Landsgemeindeplatz in Appenzell

Landsgemeinde

The one the Landsgemeindeplatz in Appenzell. This is where it all happens, every last Sunday of April… About 3 000 eligible voters gather together for the yearly Landsgemeinde (cantonal assembly), to directly vote by show of hands on cantonal resolutions and elect the members of the highest authorities. It is one of the oldest forms of direct democracy, a long standing tradition in Switzerland. It can be traced back to the late the middle ages and seems to have been practised since the founding of the Old Swiss Confederacy in 1291. Nowadays, only Glarus and Appenzell Innerrhoden, where this picture was taken, have Landsgemeinde.

If you are a Swiss citizen and live in the canton, it is relatively easy to join the Landsgemeinde. All you have to do is show up and present your ceremonial sword or Swiss military bayonet. In case you don’t have one of these, you are allowed to use your national voting card, an option which was only made available in 1991, after the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland imposed the admission of women to the assembly.

Of course, there had to be an evocative fountain for it: a voting citizen with his sword and diligently voting…

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