Switzerland

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Question Value
Legal provisions for mandatory referendums at national level
  • Yes
Legal provisions for optional referendums at national level
  • Yes
Legal provisions for citizens' initiatives at national level
  • Yes
Legal provisions for agenda initiatives at national level
  • No
Legal provisions for recall at national level
  • No
Legal provisions for direct democracy at the regional level
  • Mandatory referendum
  • Optional referendum
  • Citizens' initiative
  • Agenda initiative
  • Recall
Legal provisions for direct democracy at the local level
  • Mandatory referendum
  • Optional referendum
  • Citizens' initiative
  • Agenda initiative
Legal basis for direct democracy at the national level
  • Constitutional
  • Specific laws/legislation
Legal basis for administrative requirements at the national level
  • Constitutional
  • Specific laws/legislation
Who administers direct democracy mechanisms at the national level?
  • Government
  • Legislature
First referendum/initiative held
  • 1848
Has there been a national referendum since 1980?
  • Yes

Question Value
Issues in relation to which referendums are mandatory at the national level
  • Constitutional amendments
  • Transfer of authority to international bodies
  • National sovereignty, national self-determination
  • Conflict between constitutional organs
  • Emergency federal acts
Issues in relation to which referendums are optional at the national level
  • Adoption of international treaties
  • Federal acts, emergency federal acts whose term of validity exceeds one year, federal decrees as provided by law
Issues excluded from being the subject of referendums at the national level
  • Adoption of international treaties
  • Taxes and public expenditure commitments
  • See source for more excluded issues
Issues of sub-national referendums regulated at the national level
  • Creation/merger/abolition of sub-national territories
Who can initiate an optional referendum at the national level?
  • Registered electors
  • Any eight Cantons (member states)
Who drafts the referendum question?
  • Mandatory referendum - Legislature
  • Mandatory referendum - Registered electors
  • Optional referendum - Not applicable
Who decides on the final form of the ballot text?
  • Mandatory referendum - Government
  • Optional referendum - Government
Quorum requirements for a referendum to be valid
  • No quorum requirements
Requirements for a referendum to pass
  • Mandatory referendum - simple majority
  • Mandatory referendum - double majority
  • Optional referendum - simple majority
Are referendum results binding?
  • Mandatory referendum - always
  • Optional referendum - always

Question Value
Issues that can be proposed by citizens using the initiative process at the national level
  • Citizens' initiatives - constitutional amendments
Issues excluded from being the subject of an initiative at the national level
  • Initiative must not infringe mandatory provisions of international law
Who may propose the registration of an initiative?
  • Citizens' initiative - a number of individuals
Materials to accompany an application for registration
  • Proposed title
  • General explanation of the purpose
  • Full proposed text
  • Name and address of registrants
Who determines the title of an initiative?
  • Citizens' initiative - both proponents and the responsible agency
What disqualifies a proposed title of an initiative?
  • Inconsistency with proposed content
  • Commercial statement
  • Incomprehensibility
Who is responsible for checking the legality of initiatives?
  • Legislature
At which stage legality check is conducted?
  • After its submission but before the vote on the initiative
Who decides the final ballot text when the initiative is put to a vote?
  • Agency which administers direct democracy mechanisms
When does voting take place once an initiative is qualified for ballot?
  • Within a certain time limit

Question Value
Which individuals/positions may be subject to the recall?
  • Members of provincial/local legislature bodies
  • Governors, Mayors or equivalent
  • Provincial/local level elected executive positions
What are the grounds for recall?
  • No justification is required
What restrictions are there in relation to the time period in which an individual or position can be recalled?
  • In one canton (Ticino), the government may not be recalled within the first year after its election.
When is the recall put to the vote?
  • Not specified by legislation
When does the election to replace an individual who has been recalled take place?
  • Not specified by legislation
Can an individual who is the subject of a recall stand on the ballot for his/her own replacement?
  • Not specified by legislation

Question Value
How many signatures are required to start the formal decision making stage of a direct democracy mechanism?
  • Referendum - fixed number
  • Citizens' Initiative - fixed number
What is the deadline for collecting required number of signatures?
  • Referendum - fixed time period
  • Citizens' Initiative - fixed time period
Restrictions in relation to the individuals who can sign the proposal
  • Referendum - signatories must be registered
  • Citizens' Initiative - signatories must be registered
Where can proposals be signed?
  • Anywhere
What information must signatories provide when signing the proposal?
  • Personal details
Restrictions in relation to signature collection
  • Ban on payment per signature
  • Signatures cannot be falsified
What forms of checks are undertaken to verify signatures?
  • All signatures are checked
Who checks the signatures?
  • Agency responsible for the administration of direct democracy mechanisms
  • Local authorities