Thursday, September 13, 2007

Democracy = racism?

Der Spiegel is covering a report from the Swiss Federal Commission Against Racism that condemns Switzerland's naturalization process as racist, largely because some individual citizenship applications are subject to popular vote in the applicant's municipality. The procedure fails to protect applicants' privacy and can expose them to racial discrimination, according to the report.

Switzerland's much-vaunted practice of direct democracy reveals a dilemma for people committed to both democracy and racial equality. How can both be safeguarded while racism persists in the community? Advocates of initiative and referendum in US states should tread carefully.

The Commission's report is available in PDF format in German, French, and Italian (no English version).


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