According to Swedish veteran politician Kjell Torbiörn, who previously led the Council of Europe's Economic Secretariat, Europe in general and Sweden in particular should stop dismissing popular sentiment as populism. According to Torbiörn, Switzerland and its "direct democracy" can serve as a role model for how things may be done.
In February alone, the Swiss went to polls for two referendums. In one on easier naturalization of third-generation immigrants, they voted yes. In the other, on overhauling corporate tax for multinational companies, they said no.
"How dare the Swiss go against the trendy multiculturalism? However, the outrage died down when Swiss Muslims accepted the decision without a murmur, out of respect for their host country's preferences," Kjell Torbiörn wrote.
Similarly, it took the Swiss decades to reverse their government's 1945 decision on not joining the United Nations to preserve neutrality, yet they managed to do it. Likewise, the Swiss government stated EU membership as a goal in early 1980s. However, the EU was decisively rejected by 77 percent of the Swiss population in 2001. Back in 1992, Conservative Swiss even rejected the modest European Economic Area free trade agreement in favor of a series of bilateral trade agreements between Switzerland and the EU that allegedly better suited the nation's non-aligned stance.
"Indeed, a snail may get around slower than the hare. But it has more time to reflect at the crossroads," Torbiörn commented.
"What the rest of Europe, and perhaps especially Sweden, has to consider is whether the time is ripe to see the people as a source of wisdom, pragmatism and control of self-glorious elites. Switzerland may then serve as a model and example," Kjell Torbiörn concluded.
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