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Direkte Demokratie und Sprachminderheiten in der Schweiz und in Südtirol - Ein Vergleich

Author(s): Thomas Benedikter

Journal: European Diversity and Autonomy Papers - EDAP
ISSN 1827-8361

Issue: 2;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: direct democracy | minority rights | referendum and initiative | multilingual regions and democracy | citizens' participation and the rights of ethno-linguistic minorities

Do procedures of direct democracy involve fundamental dangers with regard to social, ethno-linguistic and religious minorities? Is there even a conflict between popular decision-making by initiative and referendum and the requirement of interethnic consociational democratic procedures? The article focuses on the existing tension and supposed contradictions between procedures of direct democracy (initiative and referendum) and the protection of rights and interests of minorities in multilingual areas. Drawing upon some recent examples of such kind in four Swiss bi- or multilingual cantons and in South Tyrol the author compares these experiences and discusses the crucial issue whether such a conflict can be solved and which special precautions should be established when it comes to apply direct democracy in multilingual areas. Eventually he presents a new approach about how civil rights to direct political participation, enshrined in Italy's constitution and South Tyrol's autonomy statute, could be brought into concordance with the need to respect the equality of fundamental rights of linguistic groups within a multilingual polity, which is currently debated in South Tyrol's politics.

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