Another system of direct legislation is Initiative. In Switzerland 50,000 citizens can send an application to the Federal Assembly for the amendment of the Constitution. If the Federal Assembly accepts the resolution, it at once starts taking steps to convert it into a Bill. If the Federal Assembly rejects it, the proposal is sent for referendum.
If the citizens accept it, it becomes the duty of the Federal Assembly to give it the form of a Bill and again send it for the approval of the people and the states. If the proposed Bill is accepted by the majority of the people and the States, it is to be considered as amendment of the Constitution.
Advantages of initiative:
Advantages and disadvantages of initiative and referendum are more or less the same.
However, for the information of the readers we give here the advantages and disadvantages of initiative:
(1) It preserves the sovereignty of the people:
In order to make democracy real, it is necessary to grant right to the people to make laws or to place resolutions according to their needs. This right is given to the people through initiative.
(2) It removes the apprehension of revolts:
Sometimes laws passed by the majority in the legislature are not liked by people and there is apprehension of revolt. But the advantage of initiative is that it gives the right of law-making to the people. Thus, there is no apprehension of revolt.
(3) Initiative removes all the shortcomings of the laws:
In legislatures there is a dictatorship of the majority and sometimes the interests of the people and the minorities are ignored. Thus through initiative the people can compel the legislature to pay heed to their interest.
(4) Legislature becomes more responsible:
When people make a frequent use of initiative, it becomes clear that the legislature is ignoring the interests of the people. Thus the legislature loses its reputation. The legislature in order to avoid criticism tries to become more responsible and pays more attention to the demands of the people.
Arguments against Initiative:
(1) Legislature becomes insignificant. Generally this argument is advanced against initiative that it lowers the prestige of the legislature.
(2) It becomes easy for the selfish groups to fulfill their motives.
(3) It has no practical utility.
A Critical Appraisal of Initiative:
Although the laws have not been made intelligently in some states of Switzerland through this system, yet it has not proved a total failure. Bryce has written about the people who consider it a good system. He says, most of the people considered it more valuable for the reason that it keeps a control over the undesirable power of the majority party in the legislature.