A show of hands

DSC_0645On the weekend we went to the canton of Appenzell to watch the Landsgemeinde.  This is an annual vote for the new council among other things and in this canton it is a big deal and follows long-held traditions that are unique to this area of Switzerland.  Women were not allowed to vote in this canton until 1990!  The village of Appenzell (where the vote was held) is famous for its painted buildings.

DSC_0656I have never seen crowds like this at an election.  Most of the people here came just to watch.  We really couldn’t get anywhere near the action.

DSC_0660The other interesting thing about this election is how dressed up the voters get.  The men wear suits and the women were all dressed up in their best clothes to parade before the multitude of onlookers.

DSC_0649The male voters all have one of these.  Yes, a sword.  It is a tradition in this area that allows them entry to the vote.  The women had yellow cards.  I personally would prefer a shiny sword if I lived there.  I took this photo by sneakily holding my camera down at waist level and hoping for the best.  It turned out quite well considering…

DSC_0663And I wasn’t the only one taking photos in an unusual manner.  He caught me taking this photo of him 🙂



I could only catch a glimpse of the parade passing by complete with big band and traditional costumes.

DSC_0679But by far my favourite outfit of the day was worn by the local fire-fighters who were providing crowd control in their glamorous golden helmets.  So on-trend right now!

Voting actually was counted by a show of hands.  I had been expecting a dramatic raising of the swords but that didn’t happen.  During one vote, the number of hands raised for the two candidates was so close that the supervisor had to call for a walk through count – voters were asked to walk two different paths to show who they were voting for.   Clearly that is a slow process because I saw one voter make a mad dash into the closest restaurant (either for a toilet stop or a quick drink!).


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