citizens' initiative and referendum
IR+R NEWS - news about democratic reform, citizens' initiative,
referendum, recall of elected officials. A service of Citizens'
Initiative and Referendum I&R http://www.iniref.org
In this issue:
§ Swiss electorate rejects pension and tax laws.
§ Major political reforms introduced by citizen-initiated referendum
Swiss electorate rejects pension and tax laws
After a long period of public information, discussion and deliberation
Swiss citizens voted (May 2004) in referendums on three laws passed by
parliament and federal council.
In this way they vetoed a reform of the pension system and an extensive
A government backed increase in "value added" tax, intended to cover
the pension reform, was also blocked by the electorate.
Source: Press and the "More Democracy" lobby.
The procedure used here was the optional or "facultative" referendum.
On any law going through parliament a large number of citizens may
trigger a referendum by signing a demand within a defined time-period.
Major political reforms introduced by citizen-initiated referendum
Hamburgers shake up the political system by means of direct democracy
The citizens of Hamburg used citizens' initiative (law proposal) followed by binding referendum to improve the ways in which politicians are elected. The electoral list system has been reformed to give citizens much more control and the selection of candidates has been partly moved out from the party headquarters to the wards. These reforms were pushed through against the will of the city government and major political parties, who fear that fewer of their candidates will be elected as a result of the changes.
Compared with Great Britain and Northern Ireland, citizens' democratic
rights are much stronger in parts of Germany, also in Switzerland and
Italy. In GB+NI, in between elections, people have virtually no
say in policy or lawmaking.