What is a federal popular initiative?
A federal popular initiative is a way for citizens to amend the Federal Constitution.
A popular initiative is a way to request an amendment to the Federal Constitution.
An initiative can be presented in the form of a specific draft article or a general proposal.
Of these two forms of federal popular initiatives, the most commonly used is the form of the specific draft.
For a popular initiative to succeed, those launching the initiative need to collect 100,000 signatures from people entitled to vote within 18 months. By signing such a list, people declare themselves to be in favour of the initiative.
Parliament is responsible for examining whether the initiative respects the principles of consistency of form, unity of subject matter and the mandatory rules of international law. If this is not the case, Parliament may declare the initiative totally or partially invalid.
If Parliament decides that the initiative is valid, it is put to a popular vote. The Federal Council and Parliament may propose a direct or indirect counter-proposal to the initiative.
How to launch a federal popular initiative
The initiative it is put to the vote of the People and the cantons (unless the initiators withdraw it).
No legislative initiative at federal level
At federal level, you can launch a federal popular initiative to request a full or partial amendment to the Constitution, but not the revision or the introduction of a new federal law. It is, however, possible in several cantons to request the amendment of a law. This is called a ‘legislative initiative’.