Initiative: Wikis

  
  
  
  

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In political science, the initiative (also known as popular or citizen's initiative) provides a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote (plebiscite) on a proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance, === Switzerland === It was included in the Swiss Federal Constitution in 1891, permitting a certain number of citizens (currently 100,000) to make a request to amend a constitutional article, or even to introduce a new article into the constitution. The right of initiative is also used at the cantonal and communal level in Switzerland; many cantons allow initiatives to enact regular non-constitutional law, but the federal system does not. If the necessary number of supporters is reached, the initiative will be put to a referendum about two or three years later; the delay helps prevent short-term political moods from getting into the constitution. The parliament and government will both issue their official opinions on whether they recommend voting for or against the proposed amendment, and these opinions will be printed on the ballot . The parliament may also pass an alternative amendment suggestion which will also be included on the ballot; in this case, the voters cast two votes, one for whether or not they want an amendment, and one for which one they want, the original one from the initiative or the one introduced in parliament, in case a majority decides for amending. A citizen-proposed change to the constitution in Switzerland at the national level needs to achieve both a majority of the national popular vote and a majority of the canton-wide vote in more than half of the cantons to pass. The vast majority of national initiatives introduced since 1891, when the system started, have failed to receive voter support.

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Ireland

Provision for the initiative was included in the 1922 constitution of the Irish Free State, but was hastily abolished when republicans organised a drive to instigate a vote that would abolish the Oath of Allegiance.

United States

The US has no initiative process at the national level. In order for any federal initiative to be ever put to voters nationwide would require Congress to propose an amendment to the US Constitution which in order to take effect would need to be ratified by three-fourths of all the state legislatures or constitutional conventions because the framers of the US Constitution, in Article I, Section I, bestowed all of the legislative power upon the legislative branch of the federal government , the United States Congress, the text states: All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.[1] The U.S. Constitution was not ratified by a direct citizens' referendum, but, pursuant to Article VII, through state conventions elected by the people. Unsuccessful attempts to get initiatives have nevertheless occurred, but since the proposals were bills, not a constitutional amendments, no initiative could have lawfully been voted on notwithstanding the bills' passage. The first attempt to get national ballot initiatives occurred in 1907 when House Joint Resolution 44 was introduced by Rep. Elmer Fulton of Oklahoma; the proposal was never put to a vote. In 1977, both the Abourezk-Hatfield National Voter Initiative and the Jagt Resolutions never got out of committee. Senator Mike Gravel was part of that effort. Gravel has since suggested an unconstitutional method to amend the Constitution without Congressional consent.

In the United States the initiative is in use at the level of state government, in 24 states, and the District of Columbia [1], and is also in common use at the local and city government level.

The modern U.S. system of initiative and referendum originated in the state of South Dakota. South Dakota adopted initiative and referendum in 1898 by a vote of 23,816 to 16,483. Oregon was the second state to adopt and did so in 1902, when the state's legislators adopted it by an overwhelming majority. The "Oregon System", as it was at first known, subsequently spread to many other states, and became one of the signature reforms of the Progressive Era (1890s-1920s).

European Union

Union level

The rejected Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE) included a limited indirect initiative right (Article I-46(4)). The proposal of introducing the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) was that 1,000,000 citizens, from minimal numbers of different member states, could invite the executive body of the European Union (EU), the European Commission, to consider any proposal "on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Constitution." The precise mechanism had not been agreed upon. Critics underlined the weakness of this right of initiative, which did not ultimately entail any vote or referendum.

A similar scheme under the same name, European Citizens' Initiative (ECI), has been put forward in the now ratified European Lisbon Treaty (which entered into force on 1 December 2009), enabling a limited indirect initiative right.[2] It follows very similar rules to the ones outlined in the European Constitution, requiring the signatures of 1,000 000 European Nationals. These citizens would thereby obtain the same right to request the Commission to submit a legislative proposal as the Council has had since the establishment of the European Communities in 1957[3]. This, however, does require that the signatures come from a "significant number" of Member States. It is suggested that this significant number will need to be around a quarter of member states, with at least 1/500 of the citizens in those member states supporting the initiative. With the variety of languages within the European Union, this creates a significant hurdle for people to navigate. The treaty also makes it clear that right of initiative should not be confused with the right to petition, particularly since a petition is directed to Parliament[4] while a citizens' initiative is directed to the Commission; whereas a petition is a method of remonstrance, usually focussing on perceived infringements of European Law, an initiative is a grassroots proposal for new legislation.

It remains to be seen if the ECI evolves into a full initiative or remains in its present state of a de facto petition.[5][6]

France

A restricted, local, indirect initiative was introduced on 28 March 2003 in the French Constitution in the frame of the decentralization laws (article 72-1, référendum d'initiative locale.) However, it is only the initiative to propose to the local assembly (collectivité territoriale) the inscription of a subject to the order of the day. The local assembly then takes the decision to submit, or not, the question to popular referendum.

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also initiative

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German

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Initiative

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Noun

Initiative f. (genitive Initiative, plural Initiativen)

  1. initiative

Synonyms

Derived terms

  • Eigeninitiative, Bürgerinitiative







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