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Mandatory referendums and optional referendums in Switzerland

When are people called to vote on laws, and when not?

Most laws passed by Parliament come into force without having to ask the People to vote on them. A vote (referendum) can, however, be held in two cases:

  • When citizens disagree with the decision of Parliament and they gather 50,000 valid signatures within 100 days of the official publication of the act, or eight cantons submit a request, the act is submitted to a vote of the People (an optional referendum). The act only comes into force if it is accepted by the majority of the People.
How to launch an optional referendum at federal level
  • Certain laws passed by Parliament, including amendments to the Federal Constitution, must be put a the vote of the People and the cantons (mandatory referendum). Amendments to the Federal Constitution only come into force if they are accepted by a majority of the People and the cantons.
Art. 140 of the Federal Constitution – Legislation put to the vote (mandatory referendum)
Popular majority and majority of the cantons