Monday, 31 March 2014

A monarchist praises republics

The USA like Rome was for a long time a republic but became an imperial state while keeping the trappings of the republic. I am not a republican but I prefer republics to pseudo-republics. Switzerland seems to be the only true republic left and Switzerland is becoming less republican, less free and less democratic because of international law and, in particular, the deplorable European Convention on Human Rights.

I do remember that gallant little canton that year after year refused to give vote to women. I am sure Mrs. Clinton would have made them give women the vote, or the EU, or some body of the great and good, had they continued to defy the zeitgeist, but they held out through much of my childhood.

Charles Moore in today's Spectator makes the point that even in Switzerland the political class is attracted to the European project.

On the other hand, the Swiss people are stoutly sceptical and have become more so. In February, they voted for a referendum limiting the free movement of EU citizens into their country, and so their EU relationship is now in flux. In this remarkable country, only 5 per cent know the name of their president. This is not because they are indifferent to politics, but because most decisions are still taken at the most local level (the commune), and so the man at the top can be blessedly obscure.


  1. Despite what Reagan saiid, Switzerland might be the last best opportunity for a free polity. I hope they do better than the current trend.

  2. I think you mean Appenzell, Paul, which finally allowed women to vote in cantonal elections in I think 1990 or 1991 (the Wiki page below seems, splendidly, to have been edited by a proud local patriot with extensive interest in the early history of the canton who - as far as I can tell by scanning the page - ignores the late-20th-century controversy over women voting altogether).

    Pleased to say that for once my patchy memory didn't get the name of this one wrong. The book of a 1980s BBC series called (I think) 'Greek Fire', about the persisting importance of ancient Greece in modern history had a fab photo of the (of course male) electors of Appenzell in about 1988 standing together in a massive crowd kitted out with their ceremonial swords clashing in wonderful anachronism with plentiful numbers of bowler hats, not unlike a mountainous sect of Orangemen.

    1. I thought they gave in in around 1971.

    2. Women won the right to vote at the federal level in 1971.
      The cantons introduced the right at different times, some before and others after 1971. The last holdout, as your reader indicates, was the half-canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, which was obliged by federal court order in 1990 to accept women voters.
      marc cannizzo