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CONFOEDERATIO HELVETICA
The Federal Authorities of the Swiss Confederation

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Popular initiative

Citizens may seek a decision on an amendment they want to make to the Constitution. For such an initiative to be organized, the signatures of 100,000 voters must be collected within 18 months.

A popular initiative may be formulated as a general proposal or much more often be put forward as a precise new text whose wording can no longer be changed by Parliament and the Government.

The authorities sometimes respond to such an initiative with a counter-proposal (generally less far-reaching) in the hope that the people and States will give their preference to it.

Since 1987, the possibility of a double yes vote has existed in ballots on popular initiatives: voters may approve both the initiative and the counter-proposal. A deciding question determines which of the two texts will enter into force if both of them secure a popular majority and a majority of the States.

Popular initiatives do not originate from the Parliament or Government but from the citizens themselves. They are therefore regarded as the driving force behind direct democracy.

More information For more information, see german, french or italian section.