Direct and representative democracy

As a confederation of 26 cantons, Switzerland practices both direct and representative democracy. One of the most successful elements of this system is the public vote. On average, from 1981 to 2019, the Swiss voted on 8.3 national referendum topics per year.

  1. People power: any citizen can challenge any law provided they drum up 50,000 signatures on an official petition. You can even question the constitution by collecting 100,000.
  2. Trust in government: despite the strong culture of referenda, 93 per cent of all bills formally subjected to the process of an optional referendum actually go unchallenged.
  3. Strength in numbers: Switzerland accounts for 50 per cent of the world’s referendum votes.
  4. Postal vote: in cities, 90 per cent of voters cast their ballot by post three to four weeks before the official day of polling.
  5. Success stories: despite opposition from populists, Switzerland voted to relax its citizenship process in 2017, making it easier for the children of third-generation immigrants to undergo naturalization. Of these about 25,000 people, by far the largest part hails from Italy. The vote was passed at a national level with a majority of 60.4 per cent.

Did you know?

  • 250 UBS employees currently hold political office at the federal, cantonal and communal level. UBS supports the political engagement of its employees.

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