About the IRI Europe's Briefing Tour to Switzerland

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Swiss Parliamentary building in Bern
The Initiative and Referendum Institute is hosting a five day tour of Switzerland which will focus on the procedures and practices of direct democracy within Switzerland.

The institute is based in Germany but has offices in Belgium and Switzerland. The main goal of the briefing tour is to give participants a first hand experience in how the initiative and referendum process works in Switzerland and also how the process works on a larger scale within the European Union. Members of the tour will visit the cities of Bülach, Zurich, Rapperswil, Lucerne and Bern. Notable people that will be met by the group include city council members of Zurich, Andi Gross a member of the Swiss Parliament, Rapperswil-Jona city council member, Adrian Schmid who is a environmental campaigner, The head of the Politforum group, European Union Ambassador Michael Reiterer, the Swiss Secretary of State and also the Federal Chancellor of Switzerland, Corina Casanova.

While American democracy has used the Swiss model to form their direct democracy practices, the two countries are still very different in their views of the process. It is hoped that on the trip, members will obtain a greater understanding of what makes Swiss democracy work and maybe potentially seek changes in the American system. Though the Swiss people are able to petition for referendums on nearly any law their government enacts, seeing first hand why the referendum process is so important to the Swiss people could foster a slow shift in new ideas for the Americans who are attending the tour.

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