Citizens’ Initiative (Popular Initiative)

Citizens’ Initiative or Popular Initiative (PCI)

A direct democracy procedure and a political right that allows a given number of citizens to put their own proposal on the political agenda. The proposal may be, for example, to amend the constitution, adopt a new law, or repeal or amend an already existing law. The procedure is initiated by a prescribed number of eligible voters. The sponsors of a popular inititive can force a popular vote on their proposal (assuming that their initiative is formally adopted). The initiative procedure may include a withdrawal clause, which gives the sponsors the possibility to withdraw their initiative, for example in the event that the legislature has taken action to fulfill the demands of the initiative or some of them.

This procedure may operate as a means of innovation and reform: it allows people to step on the gas pedal, accelerating change. In principle, initiatives enable people to get what they want. In practice, popular initiatives often result in a compromise even if they are rejected; they operate as a means of synchronizing different views of organized interests that exist in society in a given historical period.


D esignates a certain type of popular vote procedures (see –> Typology). Initiative procedures are characterized by the right of a minority, normally a specified number of citizens, to propose to the public the introduction of a new or renewed law. The decision on the proposal is made through a popular vote.
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updated 11.04.2016