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

Disclaimer: Maps presented do not imply on the part of the Institute any judgement on the legal status of any territory or the endorsement of such boundaries, nor does the placement or size of any country or territory reflect the political view of International IDEA. Maps are used in order to add visual clarity to data.