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A remedy in referenda?

Alex Hudson | 13:41 UK time, Monday, 30 November 2009

At the moment, Ann Widdecombe doesn't favour direct democracy.

The system in place in Switzerland - where the public are invited to vote in referenda on a variety of issues - she says, is a "very funny business".

Her argument is that MPs are elected to make decisions and if that power is taken out of their hands then there is little point in having politicians.

If the public strongly disagree with her on any given issue, "they have a remedy in the ballot box".

This makes the weekend's story about Switzerland banning Muslim minarets all the more relevant to our little experiment.

France's finance minister Bernard Kouchner says the decision should be reversed but with around 55% voter turnout - 57% of which was in favour - the decision has been taken out of the Swiss government's hands.

Ann believes that she is there to exercise judgement - after seeking expert advice if necessary - and account for it.

The dilemma for the Swiss government to decide is whether, once they ask them, the voter is always right.

The dilemma for us is to find out if the constituents of Maidstone would like the right to be asked.


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