The public appeal of people’s initiatives – a political tool allowing Swiss citizens to amend the constitution – appears to be stagnating.
They include plans for a nationwide ban on burkas, transparency of political funding, a 20-day paternity leave, lower prices for imported goods or a ban on synthetic pesticides as well as a proposal to reduce drastic sanctions against speeding.
In 2016, seven initiatives succeeded in collecting at least 100,000 signatures needed to force a nationwide vote. In the previous year, only four initiatives passed the bar.
The figures are nowhere near the more than 20 initiatives launched in 2011 and seem to fly in the face of those politicians who complained about a “flood of initiatives”.
In addition to the people’s initiatives, Swiss citizens can also challenge parliamentary decisions to nationwide votes – in so-called referendums.
Enough signatures - more than the 50,000 threshold - were handed in for three such challenges this year– against an amended asylum law, a controversial corporate tax reform and extra powers for the defence ministry’s intelligence service.
On Wednesday, an individual citizen also began gathering the support for a plan to bring down parliament’s compromise law to implement the divisive immigration curbs for European Union citizens, while the rightwing Swiss People’s Party is trying to win enough signatures to block a major energy policy reform.
In 2016, voters decided on a total of 13 different issues in a series of four nationwide ballots, but none of the people’s initiatives nor any of the challenges of a parliamentary decision were successful.