Swiss Democracy: Strengths, Weaknesses and Threats

General outlines

In many countries people vote to elect the President or Members of the Parliament. Swiss people don’t vote for the President, but elect the MPs, the federal government members including the President being elected by the Parliament.

Unlike in most of other countries, Swiss citizens are requested in addition to vote quite frequently on a wide range of topics at different levels (federal, cantonal or even communal). That is called direct democracy. These votes are the consequences of either an initiative (proposal to amend the federal constitution) or a referendum (opposition to a new law voted by the Parliament). The number of valid signatures required for an initiative to be submitted to the vote is 100’000. This number is currently debated because many citizens consider it too low in comparison with the total population of the country (just above 8’000’000 inhabitants). Another point currently debated is the fact that initiatives are written in quite general terms and that the application laws have not to be designed at that stage. Continue reading