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Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The 30% rule..

Angola is the latest country to follow Rwanda's example with implementation of the 30% rule in the upcoming elections - a third of candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections are female, thanks to the government quota - read more here . The impact of the 30% rule on Rwanda is unclear, but the latest report suggests that the high presence of women in the Rwandan parliament has led to positive policy outcomes for children. If Angolan women MPs can have the same effect, I am sure future generations would be thankful, though I hope such quotas have "sunset clauses".

14 comments:

  1. I hope such quotas have "sunset clauses".

    Why ?

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  2. Because I don't believe in quotas...in any area of life..

    The best people should represent the country...

    So my hope is that in time people will see female MPs can be MPs and they would elect them on merit...no on some political fix.

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  3. Because I don't believe in quotas...in any area of life..

    But you don't oppose geographic base quotas, do you ?

    The best people should represent the country...

    Nobody represents the country in parliament.

    MPs represent constituencies.

    And because of that, the best people aren't necessarily seating in parliament as some constituencies or regions or ethnic groups are more "endowed" in good people than others. Having women constituencies is not anymore unfair than having geographic ones.

    So my hope is that in time people will see female MPs can be MPs and they would elect them on merit...

    That's what usually happens. And that's why countries that have them elected more much more women in non-gendered constituencies.

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  4. ”But you don't oppose geographic base quotas, do you ?”

    The two are not similar, because you can overcome geography by moving.

    ”Nobody represents the country in parliament. MPs represent constituencies.”

    You know what I meant..lol!

    ”And because of that, the best people aren't necessarily seating in parliament as some constituencies or regions or ethnic groups are more "endowed" in good people than others. Having women constituencies is not anymore unfair than having geographic ones.”

    I refer to the above. People can move. Also a PR system can overcome that constraint. Incidentally, why not just let parties retain these constraints? I mean if people value female MPs, then parties will choose female candidates. They don’t because literacy levels are lower among women than men, so the chances of finding a woman pushing for high office is slim. This really should be seen as a short term measure which is meant to improve signalling. In the long term investment in female education and better laws that encourage equality are the best way to go. That is why I prefer such quotas to have sunset clauses. Infact you could even argue that having quotas probably makes government lazy in implementing policies that are pro women. They see affirmative action as the be it and end all.

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  5. I refer to the above. People can move. Also a PR system can overcome that constraint. Incidentally, why not just let parties retain these constraints? I mean if people value female MPs, then parties will choose female candidates. They don’t because literacy levels are lower among women than men, so the chances of finding a woman pushing for high office is slim.

    First of all, as I said before, the job of a parliament is to represent. It has always been about having a reflection of the different shades of the country. Whether you go by geography, ethnic groups, income groups or gender, it's arbitrary.
    It doesn't really matter if people can move. There's little chance someone from one ethnic group could be elected in a constituency populated by another. It happens but it's rare.

    Second, your reason for why people don't choose women is problematic for two reasons:

    1. average litteracy rates don't matter and nobody cares about them. There's at least a hundred competent Zambian women out there. Furthermore, assuming there's some regional differences in litteracy rate (and I bet they are, I just don't know who is the "special" guys in Zambia), people will still vote for one of them, not some guy from the other side of the country or some Indian because their group litteracy rate is higher.
    The reason why people don't vote for women is simply prejudice.

    2. The lower litteracy rate is a result of what exactly ? Some biological difference ? It is pretty clear that a society that failed to educate its girls as much as its boys has a gender problem. And using the result of the problem to justify why the disavantaged group is not represented doesn't make sense.

    This really should be seen as a short term measure which is meant to improve signalling. In the long term investment in female education and better laws that encourage equality are the best way to go.

    Yeah, but those happen when you have people that actually think it's an issue.

    That is why I prefer such quotas to have sunset clauses. Infact you could even argue that having quotas probably makes government lazy in implementing policies that are pro women.

    The government cannot get lazy because it will be much much much harder to pass discriminatory laws or to ignore the problem when 1/5 of parliament is women. They will push the agenda.

    And as far as the sunset clause, it's not so much that it's undesirable since hopefully, there will come a time when quotas won't be needed. My problem is the urgency of the concern. What bad thing could happen because there's no sunset clause ? 30 women seats in parliament ? What kind of damage could they do if you don't say "we'll get rid of this after 3 elections" ?

    There's one reason one shouldn't have a sunset clause or at least a time-defined one: it takes a long time to change attitudes and it would be a bad thing to give any hope to those who actually wish that the change doesn't happen.

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  6. ”First of all, as I said before, the job of a parliament is to represent. It has always been about having a reflection of the different shades of the country. Whether you go by geography, ethnic groups, income groups or gender, it's arbitrary. It doesn't really matter if people can move. There's little chance someone from one ethnic group could be elected in a constituency populated by another. It happens but it's rare.”

    That argument, if accepted, and that is a big if, surely only applies to our rural areas? I mean we look at urbanization percentages of 40%+ these days.

    ”The reason why people don't vote for women is simply prejudice.”

    Prejudice plays a role, and yes literacy was probably the wrong word. However, the truth remains that few woman are educated and therefore few of them come forward. There are simply by and large casualties of normal political competition. But even where they are educated, they don’t signal to the population enough that they can run and compete. Its partly in terms of choices they make in terms of careers….and not always an issue of discrimination from the opposite sex.


    ”This really should be seen as a short term measure which is meant to improve signalling. In the long term investment in female education and better laws that encourage equality are the best way to go.” Yeah, but those happen when you have people that actually think it's an issue.”

    I am sure you know that is an argument that refers to itself…lol! The bottom line is that in your world change can never come…because no one would ever suggest that we should have women MPs in the first place…

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  7. That argument, if accepted, and that is a big if, surely only applies to our rural areas? I mean we look at urbanization percentages of 40%+ these days.

    That's because the constituency itself is diverse not because there's less bigotry (or whatever you call it).

    And furthermore, it's not like they're voting for that super educated indian or white Zambian anyway.

    For a reason too.

    Prejudice plays a role, and yes literacy was probably the wrong word. However, the truth remains that few woman are educated and therefore few of them come forward. There are simply by and large casualties of normal political competition. But even where they are educated, they don’t signal to the population enough that they can run and compete. Its partly in terms of choices they make in terms of careers….and not always an issue of discrimination from the opposite sex.

    Once again, there's 2 issues:

    - women being less educated on average is in itself PROOF of discrimination and prejudice. It cannot be used as an alternative explanation.
    - women on average being less educated only matters so much. The issue is whether there are 50 women competent for the job. And there are.

    And once again, the choices they make as far as careers are at least partially determined by the society they live in. A country that fails to deliver gender equality in education cannot really be surprised women don't make those career choices. It's as simple as that.

    I am sure you know that is an argument that refers to itself…lol! The bottom line is that in your world change can never come…because no one would ever suggest that we should have women MPs in the first place…

    I'll bet the suggestion came from women or men sympathic to women's issues. And the measure hasn't passed yet. And if left to the parliament, it will end up like the land issue.. Male MPs will quietly get rid of it. Period.

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  8. ”women being less educated on average is in itself PROOF of discrimination and prejudice. It cannot be used as an alternative explanation.”

    I think this is subjective. Not one we can prove either way. I just happen to think it’s a circular argument that does not get the thinking further.

    ”women on average being less educated only matters so much. The issue is whether there are 50 women competent for the job. And there are.”

    I actually find the basis for representation for gender a bit odd. We don’t do it for pensioners or young people or babies or any other grouping. So the representation argument only goes so far :)

    ”And once again, the choices they make as far as careers are at least partially determined by the society they live in. A country that fails to deliver gender equality in education cannot really be surprised women don't make those career choices. It's as simple as that.”

    I can expect that as a generic and value based inference, but not really as a strong empirical and highly objective assessment.

    ” I'll bet the suggestion came from women or men sympathic to women's issues.”

    Perhaps women aren’t so voiceless after all. It’s a bit counterintuitive isn’t?

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  9. ”women being less educated on average is in itself PROOF of discrimination and prejudice. It cannot be used as an alternative explanation.”

I think this is subjective. Not one we can prove either way. I just happen to think it’s a circular argument that does not get the thinking further.

    Come on, Cho.
    What are the alternative explanations for why there's gender unequality in education ?
    Are women dumber ? Are they less serious about their studies ? Do they choose to skip classes or not go to school more often ?

    I mean if there's something subjective or circular to the idea that a society that fails to provide equal education to his girls and women has a gender problem, please, give us an alternative explanation.

    I actually find the basis for representation for gender a bit odd. We don’t do it for pensioners or young people or babies or any other grouping. So the representation argument only goes so far :)

    You want to do for chiefs.

    And pensioners ? What's the average age of a Zambian MP ? And are babies a group that need representation ? I mean can they vote ?

    ”And once again, the choices they make as far as careers are at least partially determined by the society they live in. A country that fails to deliver gender equality in education cannot really be surprised women don't make those career choices. It's as simple as that.”

I can expect that as a generic and value based inference, but not really as a strong empirical and highly objective assessment.

    Oh please. Don't try to hide your prejudices behind empiricism.
    Once again, what are the alternative explanations for gender unequality ? Is it choices made by 7 years old girls ?

    Perhaps women aren’t so voiceless after all. It’s a bit counterintuitive isn’t?

    No, it's not.
    There's a difference between having someone speak for you and being able to speak for yourself.
    And there's a huge difference between having some groups pushing for something and having a real seat at the table.

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  10. ”What are the alternative explanations for why there's gender unequality in education ? Are women dumber ? Are they less serious about their studies ? Do they choose to skip classes or not go to school more often ?”

    Some of these inequalities exist for cultural reasons. That is not the same thing as discrimination. For me discrimination requires a conscious effort on a part of society to perpetuate inequalities.

    Many women don’t even think about going to school. Its not because someone is stopping them from doing so, its just that culturally that may not be an issue.

    I think that distinction is critical. Because if the problems are cultural, that also explains why inequalities tend to persist.

    ”You want to do for chiefs.”

    I don’t really argue for “representation”….in your sense..I argue for a local definition of development for which the role of chiefs is unavoidable…or emerges as a consequences…

    ”And pensioners ? What's the average age of a Zambian MP ? And are babies a group that need representation ? I mean can they vote ?”

    My point is that when we speak of “representation”, we have to make valued judgements about groups, this is why I think the case for having women MPs is better made not so much on the basis of “representation” but on some other framework. Or if you going to base it on “representation” you need to justify why other representations are not valid. Where do we stop ?

    Oh please. Don't try to hide your prejudices behind empiricism.
    Once again, what are the alternative explanations for gender unequality ? Is it choices made by 7 years old girls ?”


    Lol! Its not prejudices, I just question the logic of the argument. Explaining gender inequality is actually very complicated. There’s a whole field dedicated to that they even have a website!!

    ”No, it's not. There's a difference between having someone speak for you and being able to speak for yourself. And there's a huge difference between having some groups pushing for something and having a real seat at the table.”

    Granted, but my point is that many countries got there without quotas. Also a quota for women is a form of discrimination against men. Unless you can prove that increasing women’s freedom does not reduce men’s freedoms then I fail to see how one justifies quotas, atleast within the Sen paradigm.

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  11. Some of these inequalities exist for cultural reasons. That is not the same thing as discrimination. For me discrimination requires a conscious effort on a part of society to perpetuate inequalities.

    Well, I have a different definition of discrimination.
    Or rather I have something else in mind here. Sure, there's not that much legal discrimination (although the land issue is one example), but that's not all discrimination is.
    European countries or even modern America is far from having the kind of openly discriminating laws the US Southern States had against Blacks but that doesn't mean that "soft" discrimination doesn't exist.

    Culture is part of how it works.

    Many women don’t even think about going to school. Its not because someone is stopping them from doing so, its just that culturally that may not be an issue.


    Cho.
    When do children learn how to read ? In 1st ? 2nd grade ? At that age, what kind of parent let their children decide if they want to go to school ?
    The issue when we're talking about education is that for the most part it's about children. So there's very little free choice involved.
    Beyond that, the truth is that girls simply have things going on that aren't expected of boys. The younger brothers and sisters ? It's the oldest daughter that is asked or just expected to skip classes or even not do her homework to take care of them, not the boys. Helping with the housework ? It's the girls again.
    Now surely many would do that without being forced to. But that's because our mindset is shaped by the cultural environement and because girls are better persons.


    I think that distinction is critical. Because if the problems are cultural, that also explains why inequalities tend to persist.


    So if it's a cultural issue, why are you arguing that the election market is open and fair ? Obviously the whole culture is tilted in a certain way. And quotas are a way to get past it.
    That's what I was arguing. That your alternative explanation was based on things that are the result of the problem.

    It doesn't really matter if it's legal discrimination (which one again exists) or cultural attitudes. Educational unequality cannot be used as an alternative explanation because it's the result of unequal treatment.




    I don’t really argue for “representation”….in your sense..I argue for a local definition of development for which the role of chiefs is unavoidable…or emerges as a consequences…


    Unavoidable according to you.
    You're arguing for giving them more power and giving them a status as "natural representative" of the people or something.
    Why don't they get elected like everybody else ?


    My point is that when we speak of “representation”, we have to make valued judgements about groups, this is why I think the case for having women MPs is better made not so much on the basis of “representation” but on some other framework. Or if you going to base it on “representation” you need to justify why other representations are not valid. Where do we stop ?


    A group deserves representation if it's clearly underrepresented and has specific issues facing them. Women ? yes. The disabled ? yes. The army (like they do in Uganda) ? no. The elderly ? May be. Ethnic minorities ? Certainly. Babies ? they don't vote.


    Lol! Its not prejudices, I just question the logic of the argument. Explaining gender inequality is actually very complicated. There’s a whole field dedicated to that they even have a website!!


    Cho. I'm saying it as respectfully as I can, and not as a mean to insult you or anything: it is prejudice. You've shown it again and again. Unless you provide alternative explanations not based on other discriminating practices.

    What's the website ?

    Granted, but my point is that many countries got there without quotas.


    Scandinavian countries.
    But then again, there, PARTIES have quotas.


    Also a quota for women is a form of discrimination against men. Unless you can prove that increasing women’s freedom does not reduce men’s freedoms then I fail to see how one justifies quotas, atleast within the Sen paradigm.


    Well first of all, men's freedoms in this case include severe breaches in women's freedom. Just like one shouldn't think about the slave-owner's freedoms when thinking about improving the slaves' freedom. Or just like I didn't care ONE BIT about the loss in freedom of the white southern africans caused by the end of racist regimes.
    Second, that's ONE HALF OF OUR SOCIETIES. ONE HALF. Undereducated, deprived of many rights, disencouraged from participating in the national debate or in the economic life (and oddly enough, often the most productive half). How many good ideas that may improve everybody's welfare are lost ? How much would male infants gain from say better policies about mothers and motherhood enacted by female MPs ? How many economic opportunities ?

    Men, present and future, would gain a lot by having the opinion of the ones who give birth to them, who for the most part feed them and take of them considered in the national debate.

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  12. ”Or rather I have something else in mind here. Sure, there's not that much legal discrimination (although the land issue is one example), but that's not all discrimination is. European countries or even modern America is far from having the kind of openly discriminating laws the US Southern States had against Blacks but that doesn't mean that "soft" discrimination doesn't exist.”

    Except in Europe such “soft” discrimination is part of the consciousness…the only difference is that the “consciousness” is revealed institutionally..so foreign students pay higher fees, or you have to go back to your country to get a visa…or racial profiling, etc etc…

    ”When do children learn how to read ? In 1st ? 2nd grade ? At that age, what kind of parent let their children decide if they want to go to school ?
    The issue when we're talking about education is that for the most part it's about children. So there's very little free choice involved.”


    Well there’s choice, but that choice is constrained by the decisions made by their parents. That infact is consistent with my position. Women follow those paths because it has always been that way.

    ”So if it's a cultural issue, why are you arguing that the election market is open and fair ? Obviously the whole culture is tilted in a certain way. And quotas are a way to get past it.”

    I was pointing out the problem is not the fairness of the electoral process, but the fact that individual choices influenced by culture leads to fewer women contestants. If you like woman compete where they have deemed to have had “comparative advantage”, though we concede that those decisions are driven by cultural factors. The important point is that it is culture that has led them to that position not the electoral process. Now if you want to use the electoral process to change culture, that is fine but we should recognize the trade-offs that exist in doing so…one of which is clear discrimination against other groups that may want to be represented in a similar fashion but aren’t…or indeed the men who have invested time and effort to pursue a political career but now find they can’t because of some quota….

    ”Unavoidable according to you.”

    I also said “emerges as a consequence” of the suggested framework for expressing local preferences

    ”You're arguing for giving them more power and giving them a status as "natural representative" of the people or something. Why don't they get elected like everybody else ?”

    No. I am arguing that we let localities define what power they should have...or rather how would like the chiefs to be involved in the institutional framework. This is a point I have made many times….some areas will get rid of chiefs, some will want to retain them, and have them central to development..…but these decisions should be at the local level…

    ”A group deserves representation if it's clearly underrepresented and has specific issues facing them. Women ? yes. The disabled ? yes. The army (like they do in Uganda) ? no. The elderly ? May be. Ethnic minorities ? Certainly. Babies ? they don't vote.”

    My point is that all those criteria are valued judgements…..someone else can come up based on income….that may be people should represented based on the status in society….since the rich probably contribute more to the “common good”….not saying that, but that would be a perfectly reasonable argument…which of course can be challenged…my point is that representation means different things to different people…

    ” I'm saying it as respectfully as I can, and not as a mean to insult you or anything: it is prejudice. You've shown it again and again. Unless you provide alternative explanations not based on other discriminating practices.”

    Lol!!...I am very pro women…I actually believe that narrowing inequalities is critical for society, but for different reasons from you…I believe reducing inequality produces much more stable growth, but crucial “virtue” is a public good….so whenever we express it through promote equal policies and so forth it further ensures that society is strong and sustainable…..I am a believer in the tripod : markets, democratic principles and religious and cultural institutions…..

    But that does not mean I am just going to accept every argument, because I might be judged to be prejudiced…..no that would be what my very pro-gender friend (and he is, he is the chief economic adviser on equality in the UK) calls “intellectual prostitution”…lol!

    ”What's the website ?”

    You can start with this one…
    http://www.feministeconomics.org/

    Then there’s the “Friday Academy” at the Poverty and Growth Blog
    http://pgpblog.worldbank.org/

    They have been looking at gender since I can remember…every item from them is about gender!!

    A while back I came across a paper on Gender Inequality and Macroeconomic Policy… it was produced by the feminist economists at the IMF….a good introduction to the issues

    You see, I am pro-women!!!

    ”Well first of all, men's freedoms in this case include severe breaches in women's freedom. “

    That’s only true if you look at society through historical lenses, but it is not true for individuals. Yes some may have fired women, to get there, but it is not true on average…you are not surely suggesting all African males just torture women to get the jobs are you?

    ”Second, that's ONE HALF OF OUR SOCIETIES. ONE HALF. Undereducated, deprived of many rights, disencouraged from participating in the national debate or in the economic life (and oddly enough, often the most productive half). How many good ideas that may improve everybody's welfare are lost ? How much would male infants gain from say better policies about mothers and motherhood enacted by female MPs ? How many economic opportunities ? Men, present and future, would gain a lot by having the opinion of the ones who give birth to them, who for the most part feed them and take of them considered in the national debate. “

    That does not address the question that it is actually a zero sum game in terms of “freedoms”. My point was about “freedoms” not other aspects.

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  13. Another great exchange between Cho and Random that I apparently missed last year! As usual I find myself in agreement with elements of both arguments, but am about to fly off on a tangent. Before I do, I wonder if your objections to the rule, Cho, would be relieved if the quota was reciprocal? If the rule was for at least 30% of candidates to be of both genders, with the remaining 40% of either gender, would that satisfy preservation of freedoms arguments?

    The tangent I want to take has to do with something Random said, "the job of a parliament is to represent. It has always been about having a reflection of the different shades of the country. Whether you go by geography, ethnic groups, income groups or gender, it's arbitrary." Fair enough. But what if it wasn't arbitrary?

    As information systems improve, certain previously dismissed representative forms are becoming increasingly possible. This tangent is going to assume hypothetical conditions where those information hurdles have been fully overcome. I am also assuming a constitution that supports a representative form of professional government by majority (or supermajority) rules rather than direct or unitary democracy. The voting model is drawn from corporate governance, and is well tested in that context. In the model parliamentary votes are equivalent to proxy votes at shareholder meetings, in that on the floor of the House of Commons, each and every citizen's vote is eligible to be cast on each and every issue.

    Instead of casting a vote at a specific ballot box on a specific day, citizens would instead grant the representative of their choice the proxy to vote for them in the House. This eliminates the need for the Parliament to be a "scale model" of the nation, and therefore the need to obtain a majority of seats in order to obtain a majority of votes. This allows for a greater range of political opinion to be heard in the House, without sacrificing the rights of the majority party, other than to monopolize the debate. It is possible under such a system to have as many political parties represented as there are seats available, though such total lack of coalition between members is highly unlikely.

    Instead of large, costly nationwide elections with all the coordination problems and campaign stunts, proxies could be granted or reassigned at the voter's convenience (though some sort of mandatory reaffirmation of proxy is advisable from time to time), and conducted at any one of the various constituency offices around the country (theoretically from any computer terminal assuming perfect security (unwise but this is hypothetical)). Voters could then drive the selection process to satisfy their desire for proper representation as closely to their own terms as possible. The simplest voter to satisfy is the one who comes into the office with the name of the person they wish to represent them and complete certainty that no other will do, simply have them type the name into the search window and follow confirmation procedures.

    Things get more complicated with undecided or curious voters, who want more information before making their choice. This is where advanced colloquial search technology is a prerequisite for the system to function. Uncertain voters can be given the option of choosing questions to candidates from a prepared list, or offered the opportunity to ask questions in their own words and have them matched to previously asked questions. Candidates would be responsible for providing and maintaining their official answers to all prepared questions, in short, summary, and complete form. Questions to candidates should be prepared in such a way as to allow for clarity in short form to allow for easy comparison between candidates (i.e. Yes/No, A/B/C/Other, etc.). Within a very few short answers, voters should be able to narrow the field of prospective candidates to a manageable number, each of whom is arguably closer to their true preference than the likely winner of their vote under a geographical representation system. Voter questions which find no search matches should be referred for review in preparation of additional questions to candidates. Citizens are thus encouraged to make their choice based on as much or as little information as they desire, on the subjects which they consider to be most important, and in an environment as free as possible from bias toward or against any political position.

    Proxy candidates would require only minimal funds to be effectively competitive in the selection process, provided they answer questions effectively, however the entry hurdles should be sufficient to ensure that candidates are serious in their desire to be MPs. Candidates would be able to conduct publicity on their own behalf, however the format of biography pages and answers to questions would be standardized. In a House of 150 seats, the top 150 proxy candidates will be MPs, for as long as they remain among the top 150 vote casters. All votes in the hands of proxy candidates who are not seated are automatically registered as a negative, until such time as the candidate's level of support qualifies them for a seat, or the proxy is transferred to another candidate by the voter. Likewise the votes of citizens who claim to be unsatisfied with all official candidates are to be registered as negative on all issues before the House until such time as they are satisfied with a seated representative. In this way, attempts to stifle representation of other viewpoints by a tyrannical majority could still be effectively opposed by individual voters.

    I submit that such a hypothetical system of representation deals with the issue of arbitrariness quite effectively.

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  14. Yakima,

    I suppose reciprocal quotas have something going for them.

    The model outlined is very interesting and does appear to get round the costly problem associated with the Swiss referendums.

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