sexta-feira, 8 de outubro de 2004


Switzerland has the toughest naturalization rules in Europe. If you want to become Swiss you must live in the country legally for at least 12 years—and pay taxes, and have no criminal record—before you can apply for citizenship. (...) All this is intolerable to the country’s enlightened bien-pensants who run the federal government in Berne. They want citizenship applications to be processed centrally, "along national guidelines," taking the decision out of the hands of local communities. They insist that resident aliens, a fifth of the country’s 7.5 million people, need to be "fully integrated" and that the natives must accept the "reality" of multiculturalism.
The result of the Swiss referendum should regale the heart of every true conservative for three reasons.It is, first of all, a victory for local democratic institutions of very long standing over the tendency of state bureaucracy to centralize all power. Except for a few years of centralized government of the "Helvetic Republic" during Napoleon’s occupation, Switzerland has been a confederation of local communities as established in the Pact of 1291, with most responsibility for public affairs in the hands of the local authorities and its 20 cantons and 6 half-cantons. In other words, Switzerland is still today what the United States had been before 1861. It is a little-known fact that the Swiss Constitution of 1848 was modeled on the U.S. constitution of 1787. Its adoption was preceded by a brief civil war between Protestant liberals seeking a centralized national state and Catholic conservatives clinging on to the old order. The decentralizing Catholics won, and adopted the American constitutional model as the one best suited to their country’s traditions. The Swiss have preserved that model ever since, while America has moved on.

Last but by no means least the Swiss result is encouraging because at least one civilized country in the world will continue to uphold the right of local communities to decide who will qualify for naturalization. Unique in today’s Western world, this healthy sense of Swiss citizenship reminds us of the Greek polis. It reflects an underlying assumption of kinship among citizens that cannot be fulfilled by mere residence and observance of the rules. Naturalization in Athens was possible but difficult; it was a rare privilege and anything but a right. Likewise in today’s Switzerland if you want to belong, but do not belong by blood, you have to prove a high degree of cultural and civilizational kinship with the host-society. Like in Athens, in today’s Switzerland citizenship includes the right and duty to fulfill certain functions, among which military service is very important. It is remarkable that to this day every Swiss male over 18 must be prepared to serve in the country’s citizen-army; after completing their basic training they keep their weapons at home, and refusal to perform military service is a criminal offence. The thought must have crossed the mind of a few Swiss reservists that all too many aspiring foreigners could never be trusted with those weapons. The Swiss understand, even when they do not know, that the collective striving embodied in "We the People" makes no sense unless there is a definable "people" to support it. They sense that many immigrants have no kinship with the striving and no connection to the "people

Sem comentários:

Enviar um comentário