Bundeshaus Bern

Bearer shares have to be abolished in Switzerland within five years. But the basic problem remains: the globalisation of politics.

The bearer shares of 55,000 Swiss companies must be converted into registered shares within the next five years. Only bearer securities of listed companies and other few exceptions are permitted. This was decided by the National Council (Hause of Representatives) on Wednesday. It gave in to the Council of States (Senate) and international pressure. A piece of economic history is thus disappearing. Originally, the public limited company was an association of donors that one did not need to know, a “Société Anonyme”, as it is still called in french today.

For some years now, however, the international economic organisation OECD has seen bearer shares as a means of money laundering and in their owners malicious criminals. It ordered their abolition by the end of October. Shares that are not converted within five years will be destroyed. This represents an unprecedented encroachment on the property security of the owners and is questionable under the rule of law. It was foreseeable that the National Council would give in despite initial opposition. Many politicians like themselves in the role of the “Winkelrieds” (a well known battle hero here in Switzerland) against international interference, only to finally give in when the threatening consequences become concrete.

Without the participation of the governed

This does not change the basic problem: the globalisation of politics, which leads to diplomats working out the law in hidden circles instead of elected representatives of the people. They cannot be held accountable to the public for what they decide. And they certainly cannot be voted out of office.

In may, an OECD delegation – with the compliant support of the Finance Department – took direct influence on the parliamentary deliberations. This undermines the core of democracy: the rule of the people, the promise of the rule of law not to overrule those governed, but to enact the law with their cooperation by which everyone must abide.

Published at Tamedia on june 13th, 2019:  https://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/schweiz/standard/aushoehlung-der-demokratie/story/24816591

Picture: (fi.)

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