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Eliminate shortcomings in popular rights - Federal Council welcomes proposals from the State Political Commission of the Council of States

Federal Department of Justice and Police

Bern, June 19, 2001 - The Federal Council supports the new attempt by parliament to remedy deficiencies in popular rights. In his statement on the report of the State Political Commission of the Council of States (SPK-S) on the parliamentary initiative to remedy deficiencies in people's rights, he agrees with the thrust of the proposals.

On November 20, 1996, the Federal Council presented a reform package entitled "People's Rights" as part of its message on the reform of the Federal Constitution. However, the proposal failed in the summer of 1999 in the debates of the two councils. The Federal Council welcomes the fact that the SPK-S has now adopted a report and a draft federal resolution on the elimination of deficiencies in popular rights. The main points are the introduction of the general popular initiative and an extension of the state treaty referendum.

The SPK-S also proposes to shorten the collection periods for popular initiatives and to anchor them in the constitution. The Federal Council has no objection to this.

In the opinion of the Federal Council, if the parliament decides to shorten the collection periods for popular initiatives, the hurdles for the referendum should also be reviewed so that the elements that hold back the people's rights are not privileged. Since a shortening of the collection period is not advisable in the referendum, the number of necessary signatures might have to be increased to 70,000.

General popular initiative as an attractive alternative for legislative proposals
According to the Federal Council, the number of signatures for the general popular initiative should be set at 70,000 lower than for the initiative relating to the partial revision of the Federal Constitution. This makes the general popular initiative an attractive alternative for proposals at the legislative level. The State Political Commission of the Council of States has proposed a number of 100,000 signatures.

Since it can happen that several initiatives on the same subject have to be submitted to a vote at the same time, the Federal Council suggests that this can be done according to the system of voting on an initiative and a counter-proposal. If the two initiatives are not compared according to this system, it is possible that both could be accepted, although their contents diverge. Voters who want to avoid this may feel compelled to reject one of the two initiatives, even though they may be in favor of both. This dilemma is to be avoided by the proposal of the Federal Council.

In addition, the Federal Council sets the criteria for the "importance" of the treaties and thus suitability for a referendum somewhat differently than the SPK-S. He would also like the parliament to be able to submit a state treaty and the implementing decrees to the people or the cantons as an overall package for voting.

Address for queries

Werner Bussmann, Federal Office of Justice, T +41 31 322 47 98


Federal Department of Justice and Police