Fact sheet on the ’preliminary examination of a popular initiative’

Bern, 24.08.2010 - 

Formal preliminary examination (Responsibility: Federal Chancellery)

In order to pass the formal preliminary examination by the Federal Chancellery, a popular initiative must contain the following points:

  • a title, which is neither misleading nor which gives rise to confusion, and which contains no commercial advertising or personal publicity;

  • the text of the initiative in full;

  • the names and addresses of at least 7 and a maximum of 27 authors of the initiative committee;

  • a signature list with the details of the canton and political commune in which the signatory is eligible to vote; this list has to allow the signatory to enter his/her name, full address and signature;

  • reference to the possibility to withdraw the popular initiative;

  • date of publication in the Federal Gazette.

The Federal Chancellery therefore declares in a ruling before the collection of signatures is begun, whether the signature list corresponds to the form prescribed by law. (Art. 69 Political Rights Act).

2.Drafting of a dispatch (Responsibility: Federal Council)

Following the submission of a valid popular initiative (bearing at least 100‘000 valid signatures) the Federal Council prepares a dispatch (report) on behalf of the Federal Assembly (parliament) with a recommendation to accept or reject the popular initiative, or to submit a direct counter proposal (at constitutional level) or indirect counter proposal (federal law level). In this context, the Federal Council may also submit a request to parliament to declare the initiative to be invalid.

3. Assessment in terms of content (Responsibility: Federal Assembly)

Parliament is responsible for assessing the validity of a popular initiative in terms of its content. If the text of a popular initiative fails to comply with the principles of cohesion of subject matter or consistency of form or violates mandatory provisions of international law, the Federal Assembly shall declare it to be invalid in whole or in part (Art. 139 and 173 Federal Constitution).


Federal Chancellery