With diverse constituencies (Britain, Scotland, Russia, Quebec…) dabbling in the need – or threat – to hold referendums as long as it suits their purposes, the Swiss model has proved the most successful, but also questionable. Exploring the Gripen affair on our front page, one is left wondering whether a popular vote is such a good idea.
Given that Swiss politicians and experts, some fuelled by outside agendas, cannot agree on whether the Swedish fighter is the right choice, how can ordinary citizens be expected to decide? How many will bother to go through the morass of parliamentary, technical and media accounts, including all the disinformation that aviation specialist Pascal Kümmerling believes has infiltrated the debate? Perhaps, similar to the 2008 Norwegian evaluations, an independent group not linked to parties, lobbies or commercial interests might come up with a better option for what the country really needs.
There was a lot about aviation at this year’s Geneva Book Fair, which gathered some 800 authors, plus 750 publishers and booksellers from Switzerland, France and elsewhere. But the purpose, as this year’s president Isabelle Falconnier noted, was how to make literature more lively and attractive to young readers. How does one incorporate this aim into a cultural event, imaginary worlds and the memories of people? Although better than previous years, the salon still focused more on selling than inspiring. We still have far to go to bridge the gap.
Edward Girardet, email@example.com