Recall Election - Switzerland

Switzerland

While recalls are not provided for at the federal level in Switzerland, six cantons allow them:

  • Bern: Recall of the executive and legislative is possible since 1846. 30,000 signatures (4% of all adult citizens) are required to trigger a recall referendum. There has been one unsuccessful attempt to recall the executive in 1852.
  • Schaffhausen: Recall of the executive and legislative is possible since 1876. 1,000 signatures (2% of all adult citizens) are required to trigger a recall referendum. There has been one unsuccessful attempt to recall the executive in 2000.
  • Solothurn: Recall of the executive and legislative is possible since 1869. 6,000 signatures (3% of all adult citizens) are required to trigger a recall referendum. There has been one unsuccessful attempt to recall the executive and legislative in 1995.
  • Ticino: Recall of the executive is possible since 1892. 15,000 signatures (7% of all adult citizens) are required to trigger a recall referendum. There has been one unsuccessful recall attempt in 1942. In addition, recall of municipal executives is possible since 2011. Signatures of 30% of all adult citizens are required to trigger a recall referendum.
  • Thurgau: Recall of the executive and legislative is possible since 1869. 20,000 signatures (13% of all adult citizens) are required to trigger a recall referendum. There have been no recall attempts.
  • Uri: Recall of the executive and legislative is possible since 1988. 600 signatures (3% of all adult citizens) are required to trigger a recall referendum. In addition, recall of municipal executives and legislatives is possible since 2011. Signatures of 10% of registered voters are required to trigger a recall referendum. There have been no recall attempts either at the cantonal or municipal levels.

The possibility of recall referenda (together with the popular election of executives, the initiative and the legislative referendum) was introduced into several cantonal constitutions after the 1860s in the course of a broad movement for democratic reform. The instrument has never been of any practical importance – the few attempts at recall so far have failed, usually because the required number of signatures was not collected – and it was abolished in the course of constitutional revisions in Aargau (1980), Baselland (1984) and Lucerne (2007). But the possibility of recalling municipal executives was newly introduced in Ticino in 2011, with 59% of voters in favor, as a reaction to the perceived problem of squabbling and dysfunctional municipal governments.

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