This month Switzerland is holding a referendum on instituting a Basic Income for all citizens. Each adult citizen will receive $2,555 and about a third of that for children. This will be treated as a wage, whether you work or not.

But this article isn’t about that.

America is not a Democracy (yes it has some democratic elements) any more than it is a Socialism (it has some of those elements too). America is a Republic. There are, in fact, no real “true” democracies to be found among modern nations. Switzerland. however, may come the closest.

That a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government.
-Alexander Hamilton

Switzerland’s voting system is unique among modern democratic nations in that it is a Direct Democracy. The citizens regularly vote to effect government policy, bypassing their elected officials.

Swiss Caucus

Swiss Caucuses are just like American caucuses! Just less smelly.

Approximately four times a year the Swiss go to the polls to vote one measures, referendums to the Constitution, or to elect government officials. “Go the polls” is not actually the way most Swiss vote, as they can mail in their vote. Or in some cannons (states) now vote online.

In the case of the referendum for a Basic Income not a single politician was involved. The minimum of 100,000 citizens (roughly 2.5% of the electorate) demanded a change in the constitution. And onto the ballot it went.

Currently the Basic Income measure has the support of about 25% of the electorate. So there is very little chance that it will pass. But it is a textbook example of Democracy for and by the People in action. The Swiss don’t need a Bernie Sanders to bring the power back to the many.

In fact, the only place that you are likely to see a “Feel-the-Bern” is on a poorly worded Swiss Tourist Board poster.

Worst Tourist Board Slogan ever!

Questionable Tourist Board Slogan ever!

*Sidenote: according to polls only about 2% of the Swiss would actually stop working if the Basic Income Referendum passed.