Despite much effort on the part of those in Switzerland who were aware of the FATCA threat, the referendum against the Swiss IGA and the unconstitutional Swiss Application Law did not obtain enough signatures to obtain immediate suspension of both and also at the same time failed to force an immediate vote of the people on the same (at least in the current operational sense). I am now all sore ears and it was much to my chagrin as I heard the radio news flash this evening. Two days from the deadline (16 January 2014), the tally of signatures was c. 31’000 (Thirty-One-Thousand of Fifty-Thousand [50’000] required) and the Referendum Comittee (www.stop-fatca.ch) announced so (according to the radio news flash I heard). A brief article appears here in French: Swiss Anti-FATCA Referendum: Will not be voted upon [Not Enough Signatures]
I shall not bother wasting time translating aforecited article, as one will undoubtably find from tomorrow at latest sufficient articles in English and German (just Google it please) relaying the same information.
What I would like to stress is that FATCA will still not be in legitimate legal force in Switzerland, no matter what now happens. This is not to say that its effects will not be felt, or that FATCA will not be applied albeit unconstitutionally by banks, government authorities, etc. What I now say is what I have said and/or alluded to here in the past at IBS many times before: the signature of the Federal Council and parliamentary approbabtion of the IGA are null and void. There is no IGA. FATCA is not applicable in Switzerland and anyone who attempts to enforce it is an enemy of the Swiss Sovereign People.
The Swiss Federal Constitution mandates that the Confederation (i.e. Swiss Federal Government) act to protect the Rights and Interests of the People. Aforesaid Constitution undisputably mandates guarantees of nondiscrimination and liberty of economic oppourtunity, as well as the right to a family and the protection of privacy, among many other things. Here at IBS, we all know that FATCA violates such guarantees, as expressed in the UDHR, as well as many constitutions around the world.
No, I do not believe that the interests of the banks and the financial sector represent those of the People in the long term. Idiots at certain Swiss banks actively looking for punters in the US to store funds in Switzerland should not be allowed to thus jeapardize the fundemental rights of average citizens. Nor may the immediate perceived needs of the economy be used as excuses for signing such Intolerable Acts as FATCA. It is the interests of the Sovereign Swiss People, as a body of Citizens, that must be upheld. And to respect this, the guarantees of rights enumerated in the Constitution must be taken seriously and without any compromise.
What is more important than upholding hundreds of years of democratic evolution that did result in Constitutions and Democratic ways of working that guarantee certain Rights for Members of Society? Ignoring what has been written amounts to a digression, a dis-evolution of the spirit of (wo)men and the ethos of human society.
Why weren’t enough signatures obtained? Because the media in Switzerland, in my opinion, did not pay enough attention to the problem (same story as to mainstream media in a lot of places…) Because most Swiss –except those who are really affected– do not understand the full and perverse effects of FATCA, FBAR, Double Taxation. Because most people thus seem to think that the whole story has to do with very rich people and nobody else.
Wrong. This present violation of the Constitution threatens everyone. It is everyone’s business.
The Federal Concil and Parliament FAILED IN THEIR DUTY to submit to MANDATORY POPULAR VOTE the adherence to a Supranational Body which the FATCA-complex is in fact. The US is attempting to operate as a Supranational Body, in violation of the sovereignty and sovereign constitutional guarantees of other nations.
The Swiss Constitution having required a mandatory vote (not an optional one, which the Referendum at issue in the present article attempted to cause) in such cases, and the acts of the government and parliament showing no sign to respect such mandate: such acts of parliament and government are null and void.
One may ask: how to bring my foregoing theses and interpretation to fruition in order to save democracy and sovereignty? I will leave it up to all of you to discuss. However, an INITIATIVE (not Referendum in the Swiss sense) is not out of bounds. There are also oppourtunities to present the relevant issues before Swiss, European, and International Courts, especially as individual cases present themselves and thus satisfy the requirement for “Standing” to bring suit.
LONG LIVE DEMOCRACY !!
VIVE LA SUISSE LIBRE ET INDEPENDANTE !!
Jefferson D. Tomas
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What a shame it did not succeed. If nothing else, this entire FATCA disaster really illustrates the powers that governments have, regardless of existing privacy laws, Constitutions and protections, to just set them aside and sacrifice their own citizens and residents in the process.
Perhaps the timing was wrong. Once FATCA starts and people are hassled by banks etc the extra 20,000 signatures may be easier to get. Please remember unless these’s a legal issue there’s nothing stopping the Swiss having another go at a referendum. This battle is a marathon not a sprint.
I’m sorry JT, but like it or not, FATCA is a legal force in Switzerland. You only have to be an American trying to get or keep a bank account to realise this. There was plenty of media coverage last year on FATCA and the IGA and if the Swiss don’t see a problem with it you’ll never get enough signatures. Yes, they don’t like the fact that Swiss banking secrecy is being eroded, but there’s not much they can do to stop it. It’s a shame the parties proposing the referendum didn’t have a petition in place straight after the parliament vote because I think things would be different if they’d been able to capitalise on the public’s feelings at that time. But the few months’ delay in getting the petition up and running has worked against them. Unless FATCA hurts the Swiss man/woman in their pockets I don’t think even an Initiative will succeed. The bird has flown and given the pressures on Switzerland to sign tax info exchange agreements with the EU, etc, I doubt we’ll hear any more on the subject really. After all there are, what, 100,000 Americans in the country or less in a total population of over 8 million.
@Medea I believe that the matter will come back into the public’s attention. Despite the refusal of the initiative 18 months ago to force popular vote on all treaties, there is yet another initiative in the works to offer the possibility of ex-post facto anullation of international agreements via an initiative-like process. I believe that it is the UDC sponsoring this.
What happened with the present referendum is that attention was focused on FATCA back in June when the Swiss Senate ratified it, the lower house postponed the debate (it was supposed to be not until November if I recall correctly) then voted on it anyway in September, then it had to go back to the Senate to resolve some discrepancies (such as the postponement of implementation to July).
The second vote of the Senate only occured in late September or early October, and it was at that point, in a matter of days, that the Vaud League and others raised the referendum. In the meantime, many had lost focus on the issue, and quite frankly not much goes on in Switzerland in December or early January, people take vacations.
There are still many avenues for legal challenge in order to reveal FATCA for the illegitimate and unconstitutional mess that it is. One has to remember that the Constitution also affords the citizen the right to sue the government for damages due to its acts.
I have already written several pieces over the last two years on the Swiss Constitution, so I will not provide the citations here again, but I may create a new article in the next few days revisiting the question of unconstitutionality.
For the record — is this the source of Raaflaub’s resignation?
In the comments section it mentions:
“In den 60er Jahren erschien ein Buch “the gnomes of Zurich”. Ein Satz darin ist immer präsent: “the swiss are not responsible for the financial irresponsibilities of other countries””
More on the origin of the Gnomes of Zurich.
including … “as Donald Rumsfeld might have put it, so many “gnome unknowns”.”
But wait, that’s not all…
There are known gnomes. These are gnomes we know that we know. There are gnome unknowns. That is to say, there are gnomes that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown gnomes. There are gnomes we don’t know we don’t know. Or, to quote Frank Sinatra; Only the Lonely Gnome.
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