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Switzerland: the referendum and initiative as a centrepiece of the political system

  • Alexander H. Trechsel
  • Hanspeter Kriesi

Abstract

Switzerland is certainly the world leader in the use of direct democratic devices. According to Kobach (1993a, p. 1), “Switzerland has held more nationwide referendums since it introduced the institution in 1848 than all other countries combined, since the emergence of the modern nation-state”. Lijphart (1984, p. 201) finds that Switzerland held more than two-thirds of the referendums that he could identify in the 21 democracies analysed in his study. The referendum and the initiative have profoundly shaped the Swiss political system and the history of this small federal state generally. Since 1848, the Swiss people have made a significant proportion of their political decisions through direct legislation. Although today an increasing number of critics are asking for a suppression, or at least a significant restriction, of the existing popular rights, the Swiss are most likely to continue to use their direct democratic institutions at least as intensively as they have done in the past.

Keywords

Federal Level Direct Democracy Constitutional Amendment Popular Vote Federal Constitution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander H. Trechsel
  • Hanspeter Kriesi

There are no affiliations available

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