Parliamentary initiative

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In Switzerland, a parliamentary initiative is a parliamentary initiative in which a member of the Council, a parliamentary group or a parliamentary commission can submit an independent proposal for a law or a constitutional amendment or a similar legislative decree. The parliamentary initiative contains an elaborated draft of such a decree or at least outlines the main features. It is the strongest type of parliamentary approach, even stronger than the Motion . With the parliamentary initiative, the parliament becomes legislative directly , without the government “intervening”. Taking a parliamentary initiative is a very powerful instrument that tends to be critical of the government. Developing a parliamentary initiative requires more effort than using other types of parliamentary initiative. Both chambers of the federal councils , most cantonal parliaments and some local parliaments are familiar with the instrument of parliamentary initiative .

In principle, this right of proposal is on the same level as both the Federal Council's right to make proposals and the cantons' right to make proposals ( professional initiative ).

A parliamentary initiative goes through a two-stage process in the federal councils. First of all, the responsible parliamentary commissions of both councils examine whether the proposal should be followed. It is checked whether there is a need for regulation and whether the approach based on the parliamentary initiative is appropriate. If an initiative is followed up, the responsible committee of the council in which the initiative was submitted prepares a template and submits it to the plenary.

The parliamentary initiative is excluded if a proposal has already been submitted on the same subject; then the matter can be submitted to the council with a motion. This right is partly found in cantonal legal systems.


Historically, this institute of Swiss legislation can be traced back to the draft constitution of the 1830s. For a long time, however, the councils did not actually make use of it at all. Its rediscovery goes back to the so-called " Mirage scandal ". After this matter had been investigated by a joint commission of the National Council and the Council of States (“Mirage” working group; today called the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into the PUK), the Federal Council asked the Federal Council to submit a message and draft of a federal law on administrative procedures within a year. The then Federal President Ludwig von Moos declared in 1964 at the meeting of the National Council in which the report of the commission was discussed that the government was not in a position to meet this deadline. As a result, the Zurich National Councilor Walter König ( Landesring der Independentigen ) submitted the preliminary draft of such a law, drawn up about 15 years earlier by Prof. Max Imboden, as a parliamentary initiative, based on the then Article 93 of the Federal Constitution. The move resulted in the Federal Council precisely adhering to the deadline. As a result, the Federal Parliamentary Initiative's institute developed into a tried and tested means of overcoming the government's resistance to legislation by inviting both councils directly to legislate.

See also


  • Parliamentary law and parliamentary practice of the Swiss Federal Assembly: Commentary on the Parliamentary Act (ParlG) of December 13, 2002 / ed. by Martin Graf, Cornelia Theler, Moritz von Wyss; Scientific staff: Nicole Schwager; Scientific Advisory Board: Wolf Linder, Georg Müller, René Rhinow. Basel: Helbing & Lichtenhahn, cop. 2014. XXXI, 1184 pp.; ISBN 978-3719029753