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Engaging citizens Geneva lowers threshold for popular votes

62% of voters in Geneva opted for making it easier to propose initiatives and referendums


Voters in canton Geneva have approved a proposal calling for fewer signatures for bringing a referendum or initiative before the people. 

The number of signatures required to propose a popular initiative will fall from 5% to 4% of the canton’s voting population while legislative initiatives and referendums will require only 2% instead of 3%. So, for 2017, this amounts 7,697 signatures (instead of 10,263) for a popular initiative and 5,131 (instead of 7,697) for legislative initiatives and facultative referendums. 

Municipalities will also be affected. Those with a population of over 30,000 voters will require signatures from 4% instead of 5% to propose an initiative or referendum at the municipal level. Municipalities with between 5,000 to 30,000 voters will required 8% instead of 10% and those with less than 5,000 voters will require 16% instead of 20%. 

The mandatory referendum, that won a majority of 62%, was proposed by the extreme left and the Citizens’ Movement Party that wanted to make it easier for citizens to exercise their democratic rights. It was opposed by the Radical and Christian Democratic Parties that viewed the measure as “selling out”. 

Civic education

Meanwhile, voters in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking canton Ticino, have decided that schoolchildren could do with mandatory lessons in the Swiss political system.

A total of 63.4% of voters supported a popular initiative to introduce a minimum of two hours a month worth of civics lessons from secondary school onwards. 

The lessons will be introduced into the curriculum from the next school year.

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