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Sorry, I didn't have time to get back to you until now.

Unfortunaly, I don't have a crystal clear source for my claim. Art. 29 Abs. 2 of the constitution grants the right to be heard (rechtliches Gehör). Apparently, a lack of reasoning is a direct consequence from this. The federal court summarises Art. 29 BV as "rechtliches Gehör und Anspruch auf einen begründeten Entscheid" in their 1P.228/2002 ruling against the city of Emmen.

Now, about my (bold) claim that can you appeal any decision by a governmental institution. I believe that this follows directly from Art. 29 BV, because a final decision by any institution would violate the right to rechtliches Gehör. Also, every decision I've ever received from my city or canton had instructions on the right to appeal the decision. In the canton of Zurich, an appeal usually first goes to the Bezirksrat (unless for some common cases, like taxes, where there are special first-instance courts like the Steuerrekursgericht), then to the Verwaltungsgericht, and then possibly to the federal court.

by final (guest), 27 Jul 2020 13:54

Very insightful, again. I think a paragraph about the right to appeal would make nice addition to the article, however, I wasn't able to find any references. Is it an actual part of the constitution, an informal principle or just your experience? I've looked at the federal court's decision on the "Einbürgerungen vors Volk" initiative, but the argument there appears to revolve around the right to get information about why the decision was made (Begründungspflicht). Any pointers to the appeal principle would be helpful.

by martin_sustrikmartin_sustrik, 24 Jul 2020 03:46

Great second installment, looking forward to the next.

I like your example of Didier Burkhart waiting for a train. Another great example The Daily Show's interview with former president Samuel Schmid - at the "Eidgenössisches Feldschiessen", where he is literally surrounded by armed people without any personal protection, having a beer with the interviewer.

I also have the feeling that the average Swiss is very skeptical toward people with power, hence the system is designed in a way that nobody has a lot of power and that there's always somebody who can overrule a decision. This goes for both people as well as institutions. Every decision by every institution can be appealed. The only two things which are final in Switzerland are a people's vote or a ruling by the federal court.

This has lead to conflict in the past. Some municipals decided via referendum who should get citizenship and who shouldn't. This has been found incompatible with federal law by the federal court - only in 2003, in a case against the city of Emmen - because granting citizenship is an institutional act. Denying citizenship therefore has to be justified and there must be an option for appeal. But you cannot appeal against a people's decision, nor can an anonymous "no" at the urn give you a reason.

by final (guest), 23 Jul 2020 09:50

Thanks for the explanation! I wondered what the Allgemeine Volksinitiative mess was about, but never looked deep enough to find out — added to the article.

by martin_sustrikmartin_sustrik, 22 Jul 2020 08:02

If you want to further go down that rabbit hole, parliament has kind of acknowledged this problem (though they argued differently, they didn't want to "pollute" the constitution with stuff that shouldn't be in the constitution). To mitigate it, the idea was that popular initiatives should not only be able to change the constitution but also to change / create new federal law. The idea was in 2002 and the people even accepted the change to the constitution in 2003. The instrument was called "Allgemeine Volksinitiative", see

Alas, while putting the new constitutional article into law, it showed that this is a very complex matter and there wasn't a good solution because parliament could simply alter the law again without there being a required new referendum on it. Therefore, in rare unanimity, parliament proposed to the people to drop the new article of the constitution again in 2008, which the people again approved in 2009.

by final (guest), 22 Jul 2020 06:49

Oh my, I have a text about Masseneinwanderunginitiative, which deals with this problem,but forgot to add it to the article :/

by martin_sustrikmartin_sustrik, 20 Jul 2020 15:27

Reply to myself: One could argue that new laws are considered constitutional because there was no successfil referendum against it, so the highest instance - the people - did approve it, even if perhaps indirectly.

But again, if parliament just refuses to put a popular initiative into law, then there's no way to enforce that initiative - except vote for a different parliament.

by final (guest), 20 Jul 2020 09:51

This is an incredibly good article - you've really grasped the essence of Swiss semi-dierct democracy. Respect.

I have one note of criticism: As you've correctly mentioned, Switzerland does not have a constitutional court. This leads to a de jure problem with popular initiatives: A popular initiative changes the constitution, but we do not have a court court to enforce the constitution. The federal court only enforces federal law, and federal law is made by parliament. Parliament should of course make federal law such that it respects the constitution, but there is no institution to force it to behave so.

A logical conclusion of this is that the de jure interpretation of the constitution soley lies with parliament; that is, with the legislative branch. This is a harsh contrast to most other democracies, where the interpretation of the constitution lies with the constitutional court; the judicial branch. Even the highest Swiss institution, the people, cannot change federal law (they can prevent new laws, but they cannot alter existing or create new laws). There is no instance which can force parliament to put the constitution into federal law, and there is no instance which can find a law unconstitutional.

In practice, this hardly shows, because most of the time parliament does create new laws with the content of accepted popular initiatives. But it doesn't do this always. You mentioned one example with the Ausschaffungsinitiative, the Masseneinwanderungsinitiative is another example where parliament created a federal law which would probably not stand in front of a constitutional court.

by final (guest), 20 Jul 2020 09:42

Very good article. The key take away is the correct mixture of public / government engagement. Brexit was a mess but some referendum are good. The jury system was removed in some countries because exact same challenges. Is the public competent "enough" to participate in every referendum ? This is a complex problem with multiple solutions

by Sandeep (guest), 19 Jul 2020 05:09
dr.fullhouse (guest) 16 Jul 2020 21:15
in discussion Hidden / Per page discussions » Institutional Senescence

That's what's nice about free competition — what needs to happen will happen, one way or another. If a company is not operating efficiently enough, which almost certainly will happen sooner or later, its place on the market will be taken by others, and it will quickly go out of business. And this cycle repeats. Governments, of course, are a bit more difficult a problem.

The IETF example, as far as I can tell, is not quite related to the discussed problem. The working groups are created to handle a specific *task* in a limited amount of time, and then cease to exist. Their decommission is anticipated, even planned, from the very moment they are conceived. This is not true in the general case of companies, governments, or similar such organizations, which seems to be the main focus of this article. These organizations are expected to exist as long as possible, in order to generate as much profit as possible (here "profit" is meant in game-theoretic sense, not necessarily financial profit). Nevertheless, the "work group" model *could* be a viable alternative in the context of companies / govenrments as well, e.g. one could create a work group within a government focused on solving a single transient problem. But the main issue is that most "problems" related to running a government or a company are not transient by nature, they are persistent. So in order to incorporate such "work group" model in the general context of companies or governments, one would have to employ an explicit decommissioning mechanism for these work groups (a "planned institutional death"). The obvious problem is that such decommissioning, which in IETF comes as completely natural, is usually *not* natural for companies or governments.

by dr.fullhouse (guest), 16 Jul 2020 21:15
by nisharoshan (guest), 08 Jul 2020 04:05
Apostolis Xekoukoulotakis (guest) 03 Jul 2020 08:32
in discussion Hidden / Per page discussions » Institutional Senescence

I don't understand your article that much. If we assume that there are some inefficiencies in a social organization, we need to first identify the cause of those inefficiencies.

In the case of the credit system, or what I call capitalism, we do not have equilibrium, thus we cannot talk about nash equilibrium. It is a dynamical system with specific properties, such as having economic crises.
Capitalism does not necessarily accumulate new dynamical tendencies other than the ones it already has.
It accumulates the results of those tendencies as time goes by.

I agree with you that change requires that some people have an incentive to change the system. Otherwise, the only other outcome is destruction.

But destruction does not necessarily mean that something new will come that does not have the same tendencies as before.

by Apostolis Xekoukoulotakis (guest), 03 Jul 2020 08:32
beec (guest) 09 Jun 2020 15:52
in discussion Hidden / Per page discussions » Unit Test Fetish

I just want to say that I send this article to devs I work with all the time. If I could change one thing about our industry it would be the dogma of writing microscopic unit tests and missing the big picture.

by beec (guest), 09 Jun 2020 15:52
dr.fullhouse (guest) 03 Jun 2020 18:11
in discussion Hidden / Per page discussions » The Pashalik Syndrome

Thoughtful article. But I would say it's more complicated than that.

The (perceived) guarantee of perpetual access is only one of necessary conditions. Some other conditions, which must be met by the majority of users, are:
- the need or desire to use the resource in the future,
- the belief that they will *be able to* and *want to* use the resource in the future (as opposed to simply being allowed to),
- the belief that the majority of *others* meet these criteria as well.

The last point is related to the prisoner's dilemma. If I want to not over-exploit, but I simply don't believe anyone else cares, then why should I? In my experience most people tend to be rather pessimistic, and rightfully so. And some just use is as a blatant excuse for their own selfishness.

by dr.fullhouse (guest), 03 Jun 2020 18:11

It's not just proposition 3. The entire article is about looking for slack and finding not much of it anywhere.

As for sex I've meant the classic problem of throwing away 50% of your genome, not the problem of sexual dimorphism.

by martin_sustrikmartin_sustrik, 30 May 2020 06:00
dr.fullhouse (guest) 30 May 2020 01:14
in discussion Hidden / Per page discussions » In Search of Slack

"3 Proposition: Two-layer evolutionary systems can produce their own slack. The outer system can introduce rules that give inner system some slack." – correct me if I'm misunderstanding what you're trying to say, but you seem to contradict yourself in the following examples, each of which shows the opposite case – the outer system giving little or no slack to the inner system.

"If there's a mysterious question in evolutionary biology, it's the very existence of sex." – here it's not clear which aspect of "sex" do you have in mind. The existence of two distinct sexes (i.e. as opposed to hermaphroditism), or sexual replication (i.e. including hermaphroditism)? But then I guess "the very existence of sex" might very well encompass both.

by dr.fullhouse (guest), 30 May 2020 01:14

I drew them.

by martin_sustrikmartin_sustrik, 30 May 2020 00:00
dr.fullhouse (guest) 29 May 2020 14:46
in discussion Hidden / Per page discussions » In Search of Slack

How where the first four graphs generated, or where were they taken from?

by dr.fullhouse (guest), 29 May 2020 14:46
alan (guest) 26 May 2020 20:08
in discussion Hidden / Per page discussions » Does GPL hurt free software?

Don't forget that the GPL was first written in 1989. We didn't have the Internet as an essentially free mechanism for software distribution, collaboration, and advertising. Someone selling a fork of your free program was a much larger problem because there was no practical way for the end user to learn about or obtain the free version. That company would have a larger advertising budget than the independent developer that created it and could easily put his consultant service out of business. This is much less of a problem in the Internet era, thanks to services like Github that are accessible to developers with zero budget.

Also, the GPL is like a labor union. You either meet the union's demands or they all walk out, shutting your company down. This type of bully tactic hinges on the assumption that you are unwilling to call their bluff. If you can afford to throw them all out and re-hire a non-union workforce from scratch, the union has no power. That's the GPL's problem. It worked for the type of monolithic software that was written in 1989 because those programs were almost all in-house code. The modern trend towards modular, component-based designs and the Internet's ease of publishing and discovering re-usable components have drastically lowered the work required to swap out GPLed code for something with a more permissive license. Compatibility with other licenses is very important in modern software development, but not as much so in the world that created the GPL.

That's not to say that the GPL is bad, merely written with a different world in mind. If the GPL were written today, it would most likely look very different.

by alan (guest), 26 May 2020 20:08
alan (guest) 26 May 2020 19:19
in discussion Hidden / Per page discussions » Enclave Pattern

This is similar to what C# does with "Attached Properties". For example, any object placed into a Grid container automatically gains Grid.Column and Grid.Row properties that specify which grid cell that object should reside in. This is all part of the implementation of the Grid class, not the class of the object being inserted.

I suppose this is technically part of the WPF toolkit and not the C# language. WPF has been around since 2006, but I can't remember if attached properties have been around from the beginning. There's a chance this could pre-date your idea.

by alan (guest), 26 May 2020 19:19
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