Anyone from the EU or more specifically CH want to comment on this?
Oh yes I will, and let me say right away that your post is downright ridiculous and ignorant (I'm Swiss).
First of all, of course we have the right to use the streets any damn way we choose to (bound by legality). Contrary to some asian countries throwing a chewing gum or a cigarette away on the street won't land you in jail, our cities all have their fair share of graffities, and we have thriving alternative cultures (like for example the Reithaus in Bern or the Rote Fabrik in Zürich).
There are indeed some police departments with Big Brother style delusions who are trying to introduce video surveillance everywhere, but I'd advise you to look to the UK first for a better example.
What you mean by sudden huge fines I fail to understand. Speeding tickets are not more expensive (to my limited knowledge) than in France, and the police are realtively tolerant with the alcool tests (0.5 mg, as I seem to remember). <sarcasm>We have very "friendly" tax fraud laws as well.</sarcasm> We have lower taxes than most of Europe, and our VAT is quite reasonable at around 7%. Living in Switzerland is expensive but not because of government.
Like in most democracies, Demonstrations are supposed to be announced, but not all are, and those still take place. If you destroy cars or shatter windows, you'll get yourself arrested. We do value private property around here.
We have a constitution, a parliament, and a very interesting form of semi-direct democracy, as opposed to the republican style organization of government in France. The concept of initiative is very important: If a sufficient number of people subscribe to a law proposition which _anyone_ may propose, then the whole country will vote on it. Examples:
- Join the UN, yes/no? We said no, let's stay neutral.
- Join the EU yes/no? We said no, noeconomic incentive.
- Participate in peace enforcement operations along with UN nations, yes/no? We said no, let's stay neutral.
We (at least myself) are not always happy with the results, but at least the people has spoken. Interesting to note as well that Switzerland is a Confederation, meaning an aggregation of states (pretty similar to the US, in a microscopic way). The federal governement is realtively small and does not hold much power. Education, for example, is a prerogative of the states. Indeed, politics in general are relatively insignificant. Our president (which is mostly a honorific role lacking real power) is not elected, but is rotated each year among the government members, who themselves have to stick very much to their executive position, taking care of the daily business of goverment instead of defining policy. Said goverment consists of representatives of the most popular parties in parliament, which means there is strictly speaking no opposition as such... all major political voices control parts of the goverment and share responsibilities for its decisions (but once a decision is reached it has to be defended by all members of goverment, wether they be from the right or from the left. This leads to the amusing situation of a socialist minister defending the privatization of the former state telecom agency)
kein Kreuzer, kein Schweizer (no money no Swiss), referring to the days when Swiss mercenary pikemen would devastate infantry with their tactic of moving in hollow squares poking holes in all and sundry. The Swiss have -earned- the peace by continuing to bristle with armament.
Yes the good old days. It lead to such tragicomical situations were both of the opponents would have a front line of Swiss mercenaries which would thus kill each other for the benefit of a cause foreign to them. Those days are long gone however and are one reason for our neutrality.
Swiss activists who went to fight with the Republicans in the spanish civil war were arrested on their return home in 1936.
As much as I enjoy thinking that my obligation to do military service for 2 weeks every year, having an assault rifle with ammo in my locker at home, and 34(!) F-18 (purchased at exorbitant prices from the US) circle in our skies are garanteeing my freedom and liberty, let's be honest here, it's a load of bullshit. We escaped invasion by Hitler because we were doing commerce and providing a safe heaven for his stolen riches (admittedly, the rugged terrain of the alps would have been heavier on the Wehrmacht troups than the flat landascape of Belgium was).
That's what neutrality meant at that time, and today we're surrounded by the probably greatest thing to happen to Europe since the French Revolution, the EU. What sense does it make to stay neutral in such a context?
...But I'm rambling at this point.
Back to topic, Davos. There HAS been a public outcry and much controversy surrounding this meeting here. Regarding the right to demonstration, let me remind you that the demonstrators went to court after being denied that right by the local goverment for last years WEF, and they won.
In addition to this many of us disagree strongly with the security of the meeting being paid for by public money (cost being estimated at ~5 mio. CHF). Like you said we value our bucks, and if there is one thing which we Swiss all care about, it's our goverment spending money in ways we disagree with.
A final note, it has become a tradition since the late 60s for the alternative movements (far left) to demonstrate on the 1st of May and cause havoc in Zürichs financial district. So it's not like we've never seen this before.
As I'm writing this, the radio is reporting the destruction of a McDonalds restaurant in Bern...
Now what was my point again ;)
Friends are like plants. They need attention and they need to drink. -- SPYvSPY
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