Political rights in the Swiss Confederation: Summary
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.
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