Right of initiative

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The right of initiative is the right of organs of a state - in direct democracies also the right of citizens - to submit a draft law to an institution of the legislative power (legislature) .


In Germany , the Bundestag , the Bundesrat (with an opinion from the Federal Government) and the Federal Government (with an opinion from the Bundesrat) have the right of initiative. Regardless of who took the legislative initiative, the bills are discussed in the Bundestag in the first, second and third readings , then put to a vote and, after acceptance, forwarded to the Bundesrat. If a draft is accepted by the Bundestag, at the request of the Bundesrat, the Federal Government or the Bundestag, a mediation committee can be formed from members of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat to discuss drafts together . The procedure is regulated by articles 76 to 78 of principle .

The individual members of the Bundestag have a right of initiative if the signatories are at least the size of a parliamentary group or 5 percent of all members.

At the state level, the state parliament and the state government have the right of initiative. In some countries, there is also a referendum .


In Austria there are four ways to initiate the legislative process in the National Council :

  • The federal government can propose a draft law (government bill).
  • At least five members or a committee of the National Council can submit an application.
  • At least a third of the members of the Federal Council can submit a corresponding application to the National Council.
  • At least 100,000 eligible voters or at least one-sixth of the eligible voters from three federal states can bring a bill on a referendum to the National Council for consideration.

In no case, not even in a referendum, is the National Council bound by the proposal. It can be changed in any direction or not decided at all.


In political systems with direct democracy , the right of initiative belongs not only to the rights of state organs, but also to the political rights of citizens at all levels ( political municipality , canton , federal government ).

Furthermore, every member of the communal, cantonal and national legislature has the right to a motion or a parliamentary initiative, and every canton has the right to initiate a professional status .

European Union

When it comes to legislation in the European Union , the EU Commission has the sole right of initiative in almost all areas of responsibility. In the common foreign and security policy , however, the right of initiative rests with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (also known as the EU Foreign Minister) and the member states. In police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, the right of initiative is shared between the Commission and the Member States ( Art. 76 TFEU ). The Council of the European Union and the EU Parliament can request the Commission to submit a proposal. Since the Treaty of Lisbon, EU citizens have had the same right within the framework of the European Citizens' Initiative .

Employee participation

As part of the co-determination one speaks of the right of initiative if the council , according to the Works Constitution Act in certain areas not only has the right to measures of the employer to respond but to make design proposals themselves or contribute in the decision making process. The works council has this right of initiative in all areas in which the law expressly provides for an agreement between the employer and the works council and, if the agreement fails, the decision of an arbitration board. The focus of co-determination is on social issues in Section 87 (1) BetrVG. The works council can use the right of initiative in the following ways, for example:

  • Propose a new operational regulation. Example: The works council proposes the introduction of flexible working hours instead of fixed working hours.
  • Change of existing regulations. Example: The works council cancels an existing works agreement and presents a new draft for a works agreement.
  • First introduction of a company regulation. Example: For the first time, the works council proposes parking regulations, a smoking ban or principles for a company suggestion scheme.

The obligation to agree applies to all of these areas. The employer must agree to a negotiation and an agreement on the proposals of the works council. If he refuses, the works council can bring about a decision by the arbitration board.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Art 76 GG. In: Basic Law. Retrieved June 6, 2019 .
  2. Art 77 GG. In: Basic Law. Retrieved June 6, 2019 .
  3. Art 78 GG. In: Basic Law. Retrieved June 6, 2019 .