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125 years of people's initiatives Pigeons, dog mess, brothels – almost anything goes

Yes, these are all actual subjects of people’s initiatives! This right, enshrined in the Swiss constitution since July 5, 1891, can certainly bring a touch of the arcane and even sensuality into politics. Its main function, however, has another aim: it enshrines the right of a minority to ask a question and get an authoritative answer from the majority.

Britain’s recent vote on leaving the European Union shows just how powerful this people’s right can prove to be. The Brexit popular initiative was not iniated from below, but from above by British Prime Minister David Cameron. The result is that the country, and Europe, is facing a shambles.

The Swiss popular initiative, which celebrates its 125th anniversary, is in principle open to any subject. But to classify direct democracy as an oddity would miss the point completely. Since 1891, it has been the driving force for developing the Swiss constitutional system - setting guidelines for government policy, parliament and sovereignty.

(Text: Renat Kuenzi)




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