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Vote issues Initiatives: Why parties fail using this Swiss political tool

Since the people’s initiative was introduced to Switzerland in 1891, 196 initiatives made it to a public vote. In recent years political parties have turned to this tool, to little success. (SRF/

Twenty-nine initiatives are currently pending in parliament or the cabinet. Some are waiting for a vote date, others still haven’t achieved the required number of signatures. Parliament is spending more and more of its time discussing initiatives. For parliamentarians like Karl Vogler there are just too many. He has called on the government to evaluate whether to make it harder to launch an initiative.

In recent years political parties increasingly started launching their own initiatives. But most fail. The Social Democrats have launched 26 in their history, but none were successful. They were either rejected, withdrawn or declared invalid.

The Swiss People’s Party has launched eight initiatives. Their initiative for automatic deportation of foreign criminals as well as the initiative against mass immigration are currently the only two examples to have won the public vote. Since 1983 over 100 initiatives made it to a public vote. But only 14 were passed by voters.

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