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Direct democracy What’s a people’s or citizens’ initiative?

Switzerland gives its citizens the chance to play a direct part in political decision-making. Although direct democracy is not unique to Switzerland, it is probably more highly developed here than in any other country. Swiss citizens can either propose legislation of their own, or work to defeat legislation already approved by parliament.

Any citizen has the right to propose new legislation by launching a people’s initiative. Typically these initiatives are proposed by interest groups. Once the group has gathered at least 100,000 signatures over 18 months in support of the proposal, it is put to a nationwide vote. There has to be a "double majority" (a majority of the people and a majority of the cantons), for an initiative to pass.

(Michele Andina,