A popular initiative can be launched by anyone who has the right to vote in Switzerland – including Swiss citizens living abroad.
Before launching a popular initiative, please contact the Federal Chancellery, which will give you all the necessary information on how to proceed.
Swiss Federal Chancellery
Federal Palace West Wing
Tel. +41 58 462 21 11
The initiative committee needs to contact the Federal Chancellery and set out its proposed initiative. The Federal Chancellery will provide detailed information on the procedure to be followed.
The committee must draw up the text of the initiative in an official language, and give the text a title.
The text and title are submitted to the Federal Chancellery, where it is translated into the other official languages.
The committee provides the Federal Chancellery with a model signature list.
The Federal Chancellery checks to ensure that the signature lists conform with legal requirements.
The Federal Chancellery’s decision is published in the Federal Gazette, from which date the committee has 18 months to collect at least 100,000 signatures, have them validated by the communes (see below) and submit them to the Federal Chancellery. As some of the signatures are usually invalid, it is advisable to collect more than 100,000. It may take some time for the communes to check signatures, so you want to make sure you collect the signatures as quickly as possible and submit the signature lists on a continuous basis to respect the 18-month deadline.
A popular initiative can be put to the vote if at least 100,000 signatures are validated by the Federal Chancellery. The popular initiative is not voted on immediately. This is because the Federal Council and Parliament must give their opinion on the initiative: up to several years may pass between the initiative being submitted and the popular vote taking place.
Who can sign a popular initiative, and how are the signatures monitored?
Click on the link below to find out how and where to submit the signature lists at the Federal Chancellery in Bern.
Federal Chancellery - Notice: How to submit lists of signatures (pdf)