How does a nation of serial voters handle a referendum?

The jewels in the crown are not just the power given to the people, but also the clear, simple, comprehensive and impartial explanations that accompany the ballot papers

By Peter Ungphakorn
MARCH 2, 2018 | UPDATED MARCH 4, 2018

• Voters in Vaud rejected the cantonal popular initiative on dental health insurance by 57.5% to 42.5% with a turnout of 55.6%
• The nationwide proposal to scrap the TV licence was rejected by all cantons, and by 71.6% to 28.4% of the popular vote, turnout 54.1%. Majorities in favour were needed on both counts
• The nationwide vote on extending the government’s authority to collect taxes was accepted by all cantons, and by 84.1% to 15.9% of the popular vote, turnout 52.9%. Again majorities were needed on both counts
• Incidentally, voters in Valais voted to rewrite their cantonal constitution.

On Sunday (March 4), the Swiss go to the first of four polls scheduled this year. It’s an opportunity to take a quick look at how referendums are handled in Switzerland. Continue reading “How does a nation of serial voters handle a referendum?”

Six things I’ve learnt since the Brexit referendum: seeing both the wood and the trees

This is long, self-indulgent, and largely a memo to self. Brexit is unprecedented. The past few months have been a huge learning opportunity for all of us, in my case even within the narrow (but important) field of WTO rights and obligations. What have I learnt?

By Peter Ungphakorn

I started writing almost a year ago (in AgraEurope) about what the UK needs to do in the World Trade Organization (WTO) as it leaves the European Union. The analysis was always somewhat tentative, even though it was based on experience of how the WTO has functioned over the decades, both legally and politically.

To a large extent it still is. The three major unknowns are still unknowns: what the UK will seek, how the EU will respond, and how the rest of the world will react.

One expert (and I mean a real expert, unlike me) prefaced a discussion about Brexit and WTO “scheduling” by more or less throwing his arms wide and exclaiming: “Nothing like this has ever been done before. No one knows what will happen.”

But some parts of the picture are sharper. Statements, analysis, leaked information, argument and counter argument — particularly since the referendum — have clarified some of the options.

This is what I’ve learnt: Continue reading “Six things I’ve learnt since the Brexit referendum: seeing both the wood and the trees”

Three thoughts on the Brexit referendum

Welcome to fantasyland. Are the toughest Brexit negotiations likely to be within the UK itself? Anyone for a ‘Swiss option’? Drug prices, bent bananas, TTIP — have the media missed a trick?

By Peter Ungphakorn
POSTED JUNE 29, 2016 | UPDATED JUNE 29, 2016


The UK has entered fantasyland after the June 23, 2016 vote to leave the European Union.

We can all fantasise. Continue reading “Three thoughts on the Brexit referendum”