Monday, November 30, 2009

Swiss Missed

Now that I have had a chance to think a bit about the Swiss constitutional change, I have a few thoughts.
  • Direct democracy is a bad idea.  Surprisingly, turnout was actually pretty high (53%).  So, this was not just the case of depressed turnout letting the loonies run amok.  Instead, it was a case of rabble-rousing that worked to bring out the less than moderate middle.  Perhaps, just perhaps, a political process where people were accountable for their decisions might have led to a different outcome.  Instead, we get a vote that has no real substantive impact (not too many minarets in Switzerland and they cannot blast calls to prayer due to noise ordinances) but alienates a large chunk of the world, including non-Muslims.  
  • The Swiss not only seem to hate Muslims but still love guns and want to sell them abroad, perhaps even to Muslims.  See the figures here.
  • It will be interesting to see how constitutional reforms (not all reforms are good reforms) interact with EU law.  
"Especially since Switzerland seems to be leading the EU Court on Human Rights these days."The ban contradicts the European Convention on Human Rights," Zurich daily Blick cited Widmer-Schlumpf as saying. Switzerland currently presides over the European Court of Human Rights, which rules on breaches of the convention."
  • Maybe, just maybe this might create a backlash against the Islamophobes.  
  • Last year, there were many concerns voiced before the election that people were telling pollsters lies about their real preferences because they didn't want to be seen as racists.  Well, this so-called Bradley effect did not play out much in the US but seems to have mattered a great deal--or things swung very significantly.
  • The vote might have been as much about the incumbent government, which opposed the constitutional change, as it was about Muslims.  
  • As always, check with for election analysis.  Including the following insight:
    • "As it turns out, the percentage of foreigners in a given Swiss canton explains about a third of the variation you see in the percentage of the vote in favor of the minaret ban. Those cantons who have more foreigners were less likely to back the ban, which tends to support the suggestion that the more foreigners you are around, the less xenophobic you are in your voting."
      • This is similar to Quebec's xenophobia which is mostly centered off the multiethnic island of Montreal and largely against the city of Montreal.
Sad day for tolerance, for moving beyond us and them.  While entirely non-violent, this vote is probably more destructive to relations with Muslims than the Fort Hood shootings.

1 comment:

Cynical Christian said...

Thinking back to the last US presidential election: pretty much all states were voting for or against Obama at about a 45% vs. 52%+/-. Louisiana was around 85% against Obama. I worked the polls for that election, in Louisiana.

What I can tell you:

1. The majority of the blacks and whites who did vote for the first time, were only voting on the presidential election, and were extremely racially biased.

2. They didn't come in to vote for anything else (has at least 5 ordinances and other offices up for vote at that time), and it was sometimes hard to keep them quiet in the polls. (Nothing that needed a cop for.)

3. Sometimes racially biased and racist are two different things: New Orleans had been electing inexperienced blacks into office after becoming tired of what was looked at as white corruption (good old boy). It turned out that it didn't matter the skin color, both groups (old guard and new) of elected officials were highly corrupt. In some ways, the second group was more upsetting because they came in with their "hope & change" and did just as bad as the previous regimes--sometimes worse because they were not qualified for the offices that they held, and often were quite insulting. (Re: Negan and the Chocolate City.) Many didn't want a repeat of New Orleans at the Federal level. COnsidering that Obama has gone for Federal Bailouts just like the previous Regime, just like most in this category feared, then they were spot on for their reaction. *sigh*

Although I can see a difference in this last point, there's a lot of people who will not.

But the main point: There are more blacks in every neighborhood in Louisiana than in most of the states that voted for Obama, more blacks in office here than most other states, so tolerance for another race is not always caused by mere exposure. If the "mere exposure" is negative, there will not be a positive voting correlation, regarding race.

So, I think that one more thing needs to be added to the Swiss: those who have a higher Xenophobia towards Muslims are more exposed to Jihadists in the news than the babysitter who watches your kids before you come home from work. They forget that most of the Muslims in their country are there to escape from having to live with the more extreme sects in their faith.