Morality Politics in Switzerland: Politicization Through Direct Democracy
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AbstractThis chapter investigates the contrasting dynamics of Swiss morality politics and shows how the politicization of morality politics and the dynamics of the religious cleavage have been sharply shaped by the multi-venue features of the political system.1 Indeed, next to parliamen- tary politics, the instruments of direct democracy (i.e. popular initiative and optional referendum) constitute a crucial institutional venue for both politicization of morality issues and policy change. Direct democ- racy has encouraged greater participation by non-party actors such as feminists and religious groups who have struggled against each other in the religious conflict. At the initial stage of the process, several popular initiatives were launched that greatly contributed to placing morality issues on the political agenda and significantly increasing their politicization. At its final stage, the ultimate step of the decision mak- ing process on morality issues also often took place through popular referendums on parliamentary decisions. In a nutshell, the Swiss case illustrates how party competition between Christian Democrats and their secular competitors, the great institutional openness of the polit- ical system and the late secularization of Swiss society interact to push morality issues onto the ‘high politics’ agenda.