Democracy is an inseparable part of our political system. In its preamble, the Federal Constitution calls on us to strengthen our democracy. However it is not only in our own country that democracy should serve as a guiding principle at all levels of government, a method for reaching decisions acceptable to all and for legitimising power. The Federal Constitution also calls on the Swiss Confederation to promote respect for democracy in its relations with other states.
The nation state defines and provides the means for democratic participation, which can take a wide variety of forms depending on political and cultural circumstances. However, the ever closer levels of international cooperation and connectedness, which are essential to Switzerland’s cultural and economic development, bring new challenges for democracy. The need for binding and respected rules at international level is steadily growing, in line with economic and technological developments. How can democratic influence be exercised in this new dimension, beyond the borders of the nation state? Various approaches have been taken, but as yet hardly any satisfactory solutions have been found.
Switzerland should and will bring its special experience and traditions of democratic participation to bear in the search for suitable solutions.
The Federal Assembly makes its contribution to our modern and vibrant democracy, primarily through its legislative activities at national level, which can currently be observed in the 2017 autumn session. However, it also contributes by exercising its rights to have a say on foreign policy, by participating in international parliamentary organisations, and also by advising and offering technical support to states that are in the process of developing their democratic structures.