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Politicians push to give public its say
Photo: DPA

Politicians push to give public its say

Published: 10 Mar 2013 11:37 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Mar 2013 11:37 GMT+01:00

Following the successful referendum in Switzerland over manager salaries, there is growing pressure in Germany from leading politicians to give citizens a direct say on key issues, the Bild am Sonntag reported.

“A little bit more of Switzerland would be good for us,” Bavaria’s state president Horst Seehofer told the newspaper.

Last Sunday Swiss voters, in a referendum, overwhelmingly backed measures that will severely restrict executive pay and eliminate golden parachutes.

Seehofer said his party – the Christian Social Union – is pushing for a direct vote on fundamental European questions, he said.

Those questions, according to Seehofer, include whether or not to transfer important powers to Brussels, which countries to admit to the European Union and how much financial help it should get.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s junior coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party, is also in favour of this. Parliamentary leader Rainer Brüderle said, “I recognize representative democracy but want to enhance it with elements of direct democracy.”

He said he is pushing for citizens’ decisions and participation on the federal and state levels.

According to a poll, Germans would most like a direct say when it comes to the elimination of nuclear power and changes in energy policy. They would also like a direct vote on the minimum wage question and on whether to limit managers’ salaries, among other topics.

The Greens, Social Democratic Party and the Left have all come out in favour of more decisions made directly by Germans. Green Party leader Claudia Roth said citizens should decide which topics they want to vote directly on.

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Your comments about this article

12:22 March 10, 2013 by Bigfoot76
It is hard for me to imagine that we could actually limit the salaries of managers. I would be all in favor for it as long as there are no hidden snares or tricks to it. It is fare that the higher ups make more money but not the ridiculous amounts some of them are earning.
16:48 March 10, 2013 by lucksi
Not going to happen. If the people had any say in key issues -as it should be- we wouldn't have gotten the Euro, or that stupid reform of the German language. But hey, elections are coming up and we need the popular vote, so we will totally promise to give the plebes a say.
05:12 March 11, 2013 by owlguard
Comment: Democracy in its pure form is tyrrany of the majority. Maybe Germany is different but in the USA when a jury of average citizens is randomly called togather they look a lot more like the huddled masses than educated, leveled headed decision makers. The founding fathers of the USA did not trust the masses and they did not trust the elite so they came up with a constitutional republic. Referendums are good but to think that significant policy decisions for the country would be made by "John Q. Public" is wrong.

Putting a cap on executive compensation might sound wise. Just be advised that there are people who are really good at being an executive and you don't want to run them off to another country. Freedom is in he ability to choose, to aspire. What about sports figure salaries? What about actors salaries? What about the lawyer (who spends $250,000 and eight years in universities) salaries? What about the writter who hits it big with fiction books like Harry Potter? Who among you is qualified to determine what is "fair" compensation for these professions? Socialists would disconnect compensation for the job from the quality of the job done. Each would receive according to their need and would be expected to perform according to their ability. George Orwell 1984, or better yet, Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged.
11:45 March 11, 2013 by twisted
Regarding compensation, there is a big difference between independent persons who can command big salaries like writers, actors or sports figures and those who lead publicly-held companies. In the latter, the stockholders should have a say in the salary and bonuses paid to the executives of the company. Boards of Directors are too incestuous to award salaries. Too many of the members of the boards just sit on other boards and give each other huge salaries. No, that has to stop and I support the idea of a LAW that says how much difference can exist between the highest paid executive and the lowest paid employee. The more you pay your lowest paid employee, the higher the salaries for the top executives. If the €83 million that was to be paid as a golden handshake to the Novartis executive were to be shared among the employees, that money would quickly enter the economy whereas the retiring executive would just bank it or invest it. And that is exactly why the financial gap between the wealthy and the average citizen is growing.

As for sportsmen and women, they are all overpaid and, of course, the fans are to blame…If they would stop attending matches or games and quit buying all of that junk that goes to support the team (or more the owners), salaries would come down from the sky and be more reasonable. Professional sports are not sports any longer, but just big business. I refuse to pay to attend any sporting event.

And as for a more direct democracy by the citizens of a country, I say yes. It is about time that elected politicians start reflecting the will of the people rather than lobbyists and big businesses.
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