Study Tour to Switzerland on Referendum and Popular Initiative

Local news, 21.06.2019

A Serbian delegation visited Switzerland for five days to acquire knowledge on the framework for and practice of organizing referenda and popular initiatives.

Serbian delegation visiting Switzerland
Serbian delegation visiting Switzerland © SCO Serbia

The delegation consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self Government and the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (Serbian national association of municipalities). Having received a briefing on the Swiss political system, the Delegation had the opportunity to meet representatives of all three levels of Swiss authorities: federal, cantonal and municipal.

Among many other interlocutors, the Delegation met with representatives of the Swiss Federal Chancellery, the Parliament, the Cantonal authorities of Berne, the City Government of Berne and the Municipal administration of Biel. The participants found the long-standing experience of Switzerland with this subject particularly interesting, as the country has organized over 600 popular votes since the 1848-ies.

The official voting material also drew the attention of the participants. Besides the ballot, Swiss citizens receive a booklet developed by the Federal Chancellery containing impartial information on the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed legislation or initiative, allowing them to build an informed opinion about the subject at stake.

Upon completion of the study tour, the objective of the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self Government is to prepare a new draft Law on Referendum and Popular Initiative, which strengthens citizen’s participation in public decision-making.