I've been reading that zeitgeisty book Bowling Alone, by Robert D. Putnam. You probably know of it already, if not it's about how people these days are much less likely to get involved in things than people in the past were, and how this is bad.
Anyway, there is a bit near the beginning where he talks about how low the participation rates in US elections are. The Americans have the lowest rate of voting in the developed world, with the exception of... The Swiss. It surprised me that the Swiss have such a low rate of voting, as I think of them as being very civic minded and being into doing things in the socially approved way. So I have started thinking about why they vote so little, and come up with some possible theories which I will now share with you.
1. They don't vote because they participate so much in public life through other means that the act of voting seems like an irrelevance. I'm thinking of all those military manoeuvres the blokes go on, but also all the checking on their neighbours' alcohol consumption and so on. Maybe if you are very civically engaged, marking a ballot paper seems a bit trivial.
2. They don't vote because Switzerland's weird power sharing system means that the same guys are always in power. That is, if elections change nothing, not even the faces at the top, then why vote?
3. They don't vote in national elections because the central government is relatively weak, and real power lies at the local level where people can take part in direct democratic activities. In other countries, local elections see lower turn-outs, but given Switzerland's strongly cantonal identity, maybe this is reversed there.
I don't know, can anyone come up with a better solution for this mystery?