Corona Referendum: The World is watching Switzerland

A commentary by Milosz Matuschek.

Switzerland is the only country in the world where the sovereign can vote on policies. Will a helvetian conflagration of freedom succeed?

The Corona narrative is just going off the rails: no bad mutants, falling incidences despite scaremongering, no overloading of intensive care units (#DiviGate), and misleading taskforce experts whose models turned out to be strongly speculative forecasts. For more than a year, Switzerland has also had a technocratic emergency regime in the form of the Covid law, however, the Swiss can bring an end to it now. On June 13, they are called by the “Friends of the Constitution” to a referendum regarding the Covid law.

Now every Swiss citizen can send a signal: further foreign determination or rather self-assertion of the sovereign?

No voting proposal is ever perfect, but this vote is less about details than about how to find a solution to the crisis in the future. It is ultimately a choice between a technocratic guardian state based on the Platonic model through the back door or a genuine deliberative, decentralized popular sovereignty, which the electorate now faces. The political sphere is divided between these two concepts. A split into those who supposedly always know what is to be done and dictate it from above. And those who have well-founded doubts about the guidelines imposed by the former and would like to see a process of negotiating the best solutions, only to be vilified for doing so.

Sovereign is whoever decides on the state of exception, Carl Schmitt once noted. And no matter what one may think of Schmitt, he is right on this point. But that is the end of the story. In a situation of an imposed state of emergency, there can be no sovereignty for citizens. There is a cheesecloth over the sovereign, which de facto prevents him from real participation. It is a central part of democracy that a minority can become a majority in a bloodless way. This means that they must be able to articulate themselves practically without obstacles; they must be able to speak out; they must be able to assemble. To submit their petitions without interference.

Initiatives such as the youth movement “Mass-voll”, which also receive a great deal of media attention in neighboring countries, have repeatedly been hindered in this regard. We recommend the interview by Gunnar Kaiser with Nicolas A. Rimoldi (4), the co-president of “Mass-voll”, which is linked in the article. Curiously enough, those who defend the value of democracy in Switzerland have to fight against all kinds of headwinds. On the other hand, anyone who stirs up panic in a taskforcing manner and then remains in the dark gets the red carpet rolled out and the journalists bow with a neat curtsy to the very latest wisdom in the press conferences.

The tenor of popular inquiries often is: Why aren’t the stricter measures implemented immediately? Why don’t we do more? In the corona discourse, a squad of technocrats has taken over and found its claqueurs. The Swiss are in the hands of professional escalation agents. It’s time for the sovereign to pull the plug.

For the rest of the world, the Swiss have a privilege that is normal for them: Namely, that the citizen is the boss and can directly force decisions. The vote on the Covid 19 law is particularly fateful. It is a vote on whether to continue to be under technocratic guardianship or to take one’s fate into one’s own hands. This vote is thus also a profession of faith in the power of democracy. It will recalibrate the coordinates between citizens and politics, whatever the outcome. Certainly, some people feel quite comfortable in a hygienically sterile spectator democracy with an authoritarian coating right now.

The health dictatorship is there when the sovereign allows himself to be persuaded that he is first and foremost a patient.

The story of the Swiss Covid law can be viewed by following this link:




Thanks to the author for the right to publish the article.


This article first appeared as a column in the satirical magazine Nebelspalter on May 17, 2021, and on the blog Freischwebende Intelligenz on May 18, 2021.


Image source: OlegRi / shutterstock


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