Last Wednesday, the Swiss National Council voted to withdraw the country’s dormant application to join the European Union (EU). A clear majority of Swiss voters are not interested in joining the EU. And no democratically sanctioned application was ever submitted. However, it has been “in the drawer” for some time.
Recently, the motion to withdraw that unwelcome piece of paper was finally submitted by the Swiss
Peoples’ Party (SVP). SVP won a majority in the parliamentary elections held last October. 116 out of 200 MPs supported this motion. It is also worth noting that last year, Iceland withdrew its application to join the EU.
Crippled America: How ... Best Price: $1.48 Buy New $8.97 (as of 03:40 EST - Details) Not many people know or remember that back in 1992, the Swiss Federal Council held a secret meeting where 4 out of 7 members approved to officially apply to join the EU. In what I consider a cloak-and-dagger operation, the members of the Federal Council approved the membership application without informing either their political parties or the people of Switzerland. This isolated act, which was considered an act of treason by a large number of Swiss citizens, has finally and officially been eliminated this week. Some politicians argue that the motion to repeal the application was ‘unnecessary’ to begin with because the Swiss people made it very clear in the past that joining the EU was not an option. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that this motion to dismiss the application officially constitutes a symbolic act.
Over the past few years, we have witnessed a noticeable shift in the Swiss political sentiment regarding the EU. The Swiss public has repeatedly refused anything that could compromise Swiss sovereignty and independent decision-making. It refuses to adhere to another entity’s rules, the EU included. On several occasions, the Swiss people voted against the recommendation of the Federal Council. Right-wing, pro-freedom parties like the SVP are gaining more and more ground in this regard. The Swiss citizens understand that the long legacy of Swiss independence and neutrality could be at jeopardy should it fall under the EU’s umbrella.
The SVP message is clear: the more centralization and the more federal government influence, the more the confederate system of Switzerland will be dismantled and infringements on personal freedoms will increase. What this stance underlines is the deep-rooted understanding that the people of Switzerland remain the ultimate sovereign and not their elected government representatives and professional bureaucrats. Politicians should serve one purpose only, and that is to serve the people, not to rule them.
The last parliamentary elections in November of 2015 showed that more and more people have come to understand that a more conservative and freedom-oriented policy is in their best interests. The logical conclusion, therefore, is to support the call for less state intervention and more individual freedom.
Historically, it is worth going back to the last world war when Europe was struggling in its fight against the emerging – and later prevailing – fascist movement. Switzerland was geographically positioned in the center of that war, making it rather vulnerable to any possible military attack if it did not act prudently. Here, the Swiss leadership, at the time headed up by Marcel Pilet-Golaz, who was affiliated with the dominant Free Democratic Party, struggled to balance the demands of the Germans National Socialist Regime (Nazi) with the political will of the Swiss public; his decisions were often disputed and criticized. Like the Federal Council today, he ignored the people and ruled according to what he thought was best for them. But it was the Swiss public that took a remarkable stance during these difficult times with the emergence of what was known as “Geistige Landesverteidigung” (Spiritual Defense of the Nation). This movement was significant in that it helped shape the Swiss sense of social cohesion and strong political will in its defense of the country’s independence from both military takeover and the socio-political influence from the Nazi era.
From my research on the matter, I have come to the conclusion that a successful resistance movement can only occur with natural leaders who can win the hearts and minds of their fellow citizens. One of these leaders was Federal Council member Rudolf Minger, who was a founding member of the Party of Farmers, Traders and Independents (BGB), which evolved into today’s SVP, and at the same time, the first farmer elected into the Federal Council. He served as head of the department of defense from 1930 – 1940. Without him and our great General Henri Guisan, a true Swiss patriot and a clear and determined opponent of the Nazis, I’m sure the history of Switzerland would have been quite different.
That brings us back to the situation at hand. Switzerland has certainly benefited from the free trade arrangements with the EU. But the dispute over immigration that emerged a few years ago has intensified. Ultimately, the Swiss felt this social cohesion that developed among the members of its population was at risk. Now the EU has escalated its position towards Switzerland: they only want to allow free trade if Switzerland does not limit immigration. On the one hand, the Swiss public is well aware of the costs of opening its borders and is not willing to compromise its security and interests. On the other hand, the Swiss are concerned about the potential implications if the EU actually carries out its threat and restricts future trade with Switzerland. However, the EU and Germany, in particular, benefit considerably from free trade with Switzerland as well. In the end, I am confident that the Swiss will find a solution that will allow for both free trade and self-determined immigration controls.
Members of the Federal Council as well as of the Federal Court are ignoring the peoples’ will, fully convinced that they have the power and the wisdom to overrule those they have sworn to serve. On Friday, the Federal Council submitted its own draft law to parliament to limit immigration. Even though the Swiss had expressed their will to limit immigration in a referendum two years ago, the Federal Council wants to salvage ties with the EU. It appears that the government’s wishes are taking precedence over the will of the people. This is a critical moment for Switzerland, for the question is: who is the true sovereign here? The Swiss constitution states it clearly, but the authorities openly disregard it. However, the battle is not over yet; the trend towards increasingly centralized power over the past 20 years has been broken – the public is well aware that this does not fit the Swiss mentality and culture. In fact, I find that the destructive way the EU elite is ruling can be seen as the best accelerator for the Swiss to uphold their constitutional right and claim sovereignty.
Swiss Property Rights: A Model for All Free People
This brings us to the core element of Switzerland: the respect for private property. The country’s political system that embraces direct democracy, decentralization and that upholds personal liberties extends into the financial/economic sphere. The state may not simply expropriate or confiscate people’s assets. It is therefore that Switzerland has built a strong reputation for its private banks, offshore investment, and the creation of independent storage facilities for gold and precious metals that operate outside the traditional banking system, which in turn offer even more security.
Swiss private banking stands above its counterparts in the traditional banking realm for a number of reasons. First and foremost, real private banks operating under Swiss law in most cases have a general partner who has unlimited liability for misconduct. This serves as an indirect protection of wealth as it ensures that private bankers do not make overly risky investment decisions for their clients. Beyond that, lending in private banks, which are not involved in credit creation and fractional banking, is collateralized and, therefore, less exposed to systemic risks, which are extremely high in today’s market.
Despite potential threats, the Swiss are notorious in asserting their sovereignty over state institutions.
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Therefore, it is no wonder, that the Swiss are stockpiling privately held cash and lead to the ranking on a global scale, despite regulations barring financial institutions from such actions. Beyond that, the Swiss have resisted the cashless society movement as is experienced with the relative disdain to card payments among the retail sector. The Swiss democratic system has truly empowered its citizens with the tools to resist outsider control.
Resistance against the Establishment: A Global Movement
We can see that tension is growing in other regions worldwide. Now all eyes are set on June 23rd when Britain will hold its Brexit referendum, strongly advocated by the UK Independence Party (UKIP). In this respect, SVP MP Lukas Reimann, made an interesting statement:
This is a clear and historical message from the Swiss parliament to British voters. We wish you the best of luck for Brexit. These days, Switzerland is called Britzerland because Swiss people support the Brexit.
Even within Germany, the economic leader of the EU, there is increasing resistance to EU membership. The Alternative for Germany party (AfD) emerged in 2013 advocating Swiss-style democracy with a stance of mild Euroscepticism. Since then, it has increased in popularity and has further pushed back against the EU, advocating the dissolution of the Eurozone. The establishment has often portrayed AfD as a neo-fascist party, based on its anti-immigration stance and advocacy against political correctness. In reality, the party is gaining popularity because it promises what the people are yearning for: the people as sovereign over the establishment.
In the U.S., the primary election cycle has proven to be another battleground where the population is weary of the establishment and increased consolidation of power. In looking at Republican candidate Donald Trump, it is clear that the trend of the government encroachment on individual liberty, which reaches new heights on the back of the PATRIOT Act and increased capital controls, is facing widespread criticism. This election cycle is truly proving to be one where the U.S. public is drawing a line in the sand and standing up to centralization and increased federal government interference in people’s daily lives. In the U.S., as is the case in Switzerland, pro-establishment forces write-off these popular movements as precursors to fascism and intolerance when, in fact, they represent the opposite. Regardless of particular stances on some issues, the common theme among these movements worldwide is that the people are exercising their self-determination in showing that they, and not politicians or bureaucrats, are the ultimate sovereigns of these democratic governments.
What do all of these movements have in common? The lack of faith in the establishment; A sense of urgency in resisting centralized power. In looking at Swiss-EU resistance, UKIP’s fight for the Brexit,
AfD’s increasing Euroscepticism and Trump’s anti-establishment support, we see a common trend: An exercise of political power with the spirit of independence in the defense of liberty. Although some of these political movements might appear to have some unsavory elements – labeled as fascist by the establishment – they do share the noble principle of self-determination.
More and more people are questioning their governments; the resistance is growing. You can’t stop an idea whose time has come. With only a few months to go, it would be remarkable to see if the Swiss wave of resistance will reach the British Isles. The EU and its member states are holding onto British membership, trying to resist the force that will certainly destabilize the region and hit the integrity of this organization. The EU is already losing its grip on expansion with the withdrawal of Iceland’s and Switzerland’s applications. Conversely, the Swiss state establishment is resisting the force steered by conservative and libertarian groups such as the SVP who are adamant in their fight against centralization. Furthermore, the Republican and political establishment in the U.S. are resisting the movement that Donald Trump represents, which is a call to arms against increased state interference. All the while, the state reaches out to the media and resorts to promoting a false image to the masses aimed at destroying the image and reputation of those brave resisting individuals, we need to spread the word and reveal the reality of what is at stake – freedom or slavery! This is the key message from Switzerland as one of the world’s last bastions of liberty.
Reprinted with permission from Global Gold.