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Mr. Hardy to Mr. Hay.


Berne, May 28, 1902. (Mr. Hardy reports that the Swiss Government has granted permission for United States consular officers within its jurisdiction to exercise good offices in behalf of Cuban interests, and that notification of this permission has been transmitted to consuls.)

Mr. Hardy to Mr. Hay. No. 60.]


Berne, May 28, 1902. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your telegrama of May 24, and to confirm mine of this date. This telegram has been sent and consuls notified, on the assurance of the President of the Confederation that Switzerland would willingly consent to the above request of the President of Cuba, and that formal notice to that effect would be at once sent to the legation.

The formal communication from the foreign office has since been received, and a copy thereof, together with translation, is herewith inclosed. I have, etc.,



Mr. Zemp to Mr. Hardy.

Berne, May 28, 1902. Mr. MINISTER: In confirmation of our oral communications, we have the honor to inform you that the federal council has no objection to consuls of the United States of America in Switzerland being charged also to represent, each within the limits of his district, the interests of Cuba and of the citizens of that island, until the young Republic shall have appointed Cuban consuls. Please accept, etc.,



Mr. Tay to Mr. Hardy. No. 32.]


Washington, May 6, 1902. Sir: I inclose copy of a letter from Senator Wetmore requesting a full history of the initiative and referendum in Switzerland.

I should be pleased to have you give this request immediate attention, so that the information desired may reach the Department not later than July 15 next. I am, etc.,

John Hay.

a Printed, page 6.


Mr. Wetmore to Mr. Hay.


Washington, May 5, 1902. MY DEAR MR. SECRETARY: Will you be kind enough to secure for me, through the United States minister to Switzerland, the following information concerning the initiative and referendum in Switzerland, which I have been asked by a friend to obtain. He says:

“We should like to know in regard to its inception, the method of operation, the progress made, and the satisfaction given. It will be of interest to know the number of propositions submitted since its adoption and the subject or text of such propositions, the number of names placed on petitions therefor, the number of votes cast in favor or against, and a comparison between the votes given on submission with the number of names on the petition for such submission, and in general a full history of the initiative and referendum in Switzerland."

It is very much desired that this information should be in hand by the 20th of July next. Believe me, etc.,


Mr. Harily to Mr. Hay. No. 62.]


Berne, June 10, 1902. SIR: I have the honor to inclose herewith the report called for by your No. 32 of May 6 last, in compliance with the request made through the Department of State by Senator George Peabody Wetmore.

All the information asked for by Senator Wetmore is, I believe, covered by this report, except the text of the propositions submitted through the referendum and initiative. These are to be had only in the bound volumes of the official record dating from 1874, and can not be procured separately. I have, however, given in most instances a brief statement of the bills in question and the circumstances attending their rejection or adoption.

In asking for a "full history of the referendum and initiative in Switzerland” I have not supposed Senator Wetmore intended to go back of the constitution of 1848.

The subject is a very large one and its literature very voluminous, even without touching the question of historical origin. Should, however, any further specific information be required, I shall be happy to supply it so far as in my power. As my own views on the practical working and results of the referendum and initiative have not been asked for by the Department, and as I do not know to what use they might be put, I have not added them. I have, etc.,



Referendum and initiative.


Legislative power may be exercised directly by the people or delegated to a few. In the former case government is direct, in the latter, representative.

The referendum is a union of both systems, the people delegating its power to representatives, but reserving the right to approve or reject their decisions.

The initiative still further curtails delegated power, the people reserving also the right to initiate legislation. By the referendum they pass judgment on laws made by their representatives; by the initiative they propose new laws or alter or abolish those already existing.

The referendum is compulsory when all laws must be submitted to the people and optional when only certain laws are submitted or laws whose submission is desired by a certain number of voters.

More or less perfect illustrations of direct government are afforded by the town meetings of New England, by the early Swiss Republics of Uri, Appenzell, etc.; by certain old Flemish communes, the Hanseatic cities, and by ancient Gaul, Germany, Rome, and Athens. But even in small communities analysis shows that so-called direct government is never completely realized in practice. The representative principle always appears in some form in the elaboration, execution, interpretation, or revision of laws, the administration of finances or the conclusion of treaties, and the making of war or peace.

The principles of the referendum and initiative appear in the earliest forms of representative government in Switzerland as counterpoises to delegated power. For a study of the historical origin of these principles reference may be made to the works of Professor Hilty, of Berne, and to Signorel's Referendum Legislatif, Rousseau, Paris, 1896. Modern legislation on these subjects begins with the constitution of September 12, 1848, which converted a confederation of loosely associated cantons into a federal state.

CONSTITUTION OF 1848. Under this constitution the people possessed the right to demand its revision and to accept or reject a new constitution. If either Chamber pronounced for revision, the other dissenting, or if 50,000 legal voters demanded revision, then, in either case, the question whether there should be revision was to be submitted to the people. If a majority of those voting pronounced in the affirmative, the two Chambers were to be convened to proceed to the revision, and the revised constitution was to go into effect when a majority of Swiss citizens voting, and of Cantons, accepted it. On constitutional questions, therefore, the constitution of 1848 embodied both the referendum and the initiative.

Under the second French Empire and during the unification of Germany a sentiment arose in favor of still greater centralization, and revision was discussed as early as 1864. Partial revision was proposed by the federal council in its message of July 1, 1869, in eight particulars--equality of citizens; the right to vote; liberty of worship; prohibition of lotteries; protection of authors' rights; abolition of certain penalties; uniformity of weights and measures, and the right of a citizen to settle anywhere within Swiss territory. All these were rejected by the people except two-the uniformity of weights and measures being adopted by 159,202 votes to 156,396, and the extension of the right of settlement by 170,032 to 149,401.

The agitation for a complete revision, however, went on, centralization, with the referendum as a check, being the objective. The debates in the Chambers, begun in 1871, terminated in 1872, when the national council, by a vote of 78 to 36, and the council of states, by a vote of 23 to 18, declared for revision. In this project the optional referendum was provided for all laws and for resolutions not deemed urgent, and the initiative was accorded to 50,000 citizens or 5 Cantons. In accordance with the provisions of the constitution then in force this revision was submitted to the people on May 12, 1872, and was rejected by 13 out of 32 Cantons, and by 260,859 against 255,606 votes.

In the fall of the same year revision was again taken up by the Federal Assembly. In the new project the popular initiative was suppressed and the referendum accorded to 8 (instead of 5) Cantons, and to 30,000 (instead of 50,000) citizens. This measure was adopted January 30, 1874, in the House by 103 to 20, and in the Senate by 25 to 14, and on April 19 was accepted by a popular vote of 340,199, as against 198,013, and by 141, as against 74 Cantons, and the existing constitution went into force May 29, 1874.

CONSTITUTION OF 1874. In the constitution of 1874 the referendum received a wider application than in that of 1818. In the latter only questions of constitutional revision were submitted to the people; in the former federal laws and resolutions of a general nature not deemed urgent, are also submitted to popular suffrage on the demand of 30,000 citizens or 8 Cantons. The provisions of the constitution are as follows:


“Art. 89. Federal laws, enactments, and resolutions shall be passed only by the agreement of the two councils. Federal laws shall be submitted for acceptance or rejection by the people, if the demand is made by 30,000 voters or by 8 Cantons. The same principle applies to federal resolutions which have a general application and which are not of an urgent nature.

“ART. 90. The confederation shall by law establish the forms and intervals to be observed in popular votes."


“Art. 118. The federal constitution may at any time be wholly or partially amended.

"Art. 119. Complete amendment is secured through the forms required for passing federal laws.

"Art. 120. When either council of the Federal Assembly passes a resolution for the complete amendment of the federal constitution and the other council does not agree; or when 50,000 Swiss voters demand the complete amendment, the question whether the federal constitution ought to be amended is, in either case, submitted to a rote of the Swiss people, voting yes or no. If in either case the majority of the Swiss citizens who vote pronounce in the affirmative, there shall be a new election of both councils for the purpose of preparing the complete amendment.”

In execution of article 90 of the constitution, as above, a federal law was passed June 17, 1874, as follows:

Article 1 is a literal repetition of article 89 of the federal constitution.

Article 2.-The decision that a federal resolution is not of general application or is not of an urgent nature rests with the Federal Assembly, and must in each case be formally annexed to the resolution itself. In this case the federal council will order its execution and its insertion in the official register of the laws of the confederation.

Article 3.-All federal laws as also all federal resolutions which do not fall under either of the two exceptions provided for in article 2 shall be published immediately after their promulgation, and a sufficient number of copies thereof shall be communicated to the Cantonal governments.

Article 4.- The demand for the submission of a law or federal resolution to popular vote, whether emanating from the people or from the Cantons, must be formulated within ninety days of the publication of the same in the Federal Official Record

Article 5.- The demand must be addressed to the federal council in writing citizen making or supporting such demand must sign it personally. Whoever, in a demand of this nature, writes another name than his own is liable to the provisions of the penal code. The right of the signers to vote must be attested by the communal authority of the place where their political rights are exercised. No fee is to be charged for such attestation.

Article 6.- The demand for a popular vote, when emanating from the Cantons, must be formulated by the grand council or landrath. The right guaranteed to the people by the cantonal constitution relative to the modifications which the former may make in decisions of this nature remain in force.

Article 7.-Whenever, within ninety days following the publication of a law or federal resolution in the Official Record, no demand for a popular vote has been formulated, or if, having been formulated, an official examination and abstract of the petitions shows that it is not supported by 30,000 signatures or 8 Cantons, the federal council will decree the said law or resolution to be in force, and order its execution and its insertion in the official register of the laws of the confederation. The number of signatures supporting a demand for a popular vote shall be published by Cantong and communes in the Federal Record. So also for demands by the Cantons in conformity with article 6.

Article 8.-1f, on examination of the petitions, it appears that the demand is supported by the necessary number of Swiss citizens having the right to vote, or of Cantons, the federal council shall provide for the popular vote. It will inform the cantonal governments, and order the measures necessary for the publication of the law or Federal resolution in question.

Article 9.-The vote by the Swiss people will take place on the same day throughout the entire confederation. The day shall be fixed by the federal council. Provided, however, that the vote shall not take place within four weeks after the publication of the law or resolution in question.

Article 10.The right to vote is possessed by every Swiss who has completed his twentieth year, and who has not been excluded from the rights of active citizenship by the legislation of the Canton in which he has his domicile.

Article 11.-- Each Canton will provide for the voting within its own jurisdiction according to the provisions of the federal law on federal elections.

Article 12.-In every commune or district a report shall be prepared giving the exact

number of voters and the number of those who have accepted or rejected the law or federal resolution submitted to the popular vote.

Article 13.—The cantonal governments will submit to the federal council within ten days the reports of the vote, and shall hold the ballots at its disposal.

From these reports the federal council will verify the result of the voting.

Article 14.-The law or resolution shall be deemed adopted when it has been accepted by a majority of the Swiss citizens who have taken part in the vote. In this case the federal council shall order its execution and its insertion in the official register of the laws of the confederation.

Article 15.- If it is found that a majority of the voters have rejected the law or resolution submitted to them the said law or resolution shall be considered null and void and will not be executed.

Article 16.-In both cases the result of the votes will be published by the federal council, which shall make a report to the Federal Assembly at its next session.

Table 1.-Showing the use made of the referendum since the adoption of the constitu

tion of 1874.

No. Date of vote.

Subject of vote.

of sig-

ing ref-

cent of
signa- Affirma- Nega-
tures to tive tive

votes. votes.


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May 23, 1875 Federal law on marriage and 106, 560

civil status. 2 .do

Federal law on political rights.. 108, 674 3 Apr 3, 1876

Federal law on issue and redemp- 33, 719

tion of bank notes. 4 July 9, 1876 Federal law on exemption by tax 80,519

from military service.
5 Oct. 21, 1877 Federal law regulating labor in

54, 841
.do. Federal lawon exemption by tax

63, 300
from military service.
7 do

Federal law on political rights... 40, 207 8 Jan. 19, 1879 Federal law on subsidies to Al- 36,062

pine railways. 9 July 30, 1892 Federal law on epidemics... NO. 324 10 Nov. 26, 1842 Federal law on resolution on ex- 180, 995

ecution of article 27 of consti

tution. 11 May 11, 1884 Federal law on organization of

93,046 department of justice and po

lice. 12 Federal law on resolution supp

93,046 ressing tax on commercial trav

elers. 13

Federal resolution applying 93,016

10.000 francs to legation in

Washington. 14 do

Fedrallaw amending penal code 9?,016 15 May 15, 1887 Federal law on monopoly of al

52, 412 cohol, 16 Nov. 17, 1889 | Federal law on debts and bank

62,948 ruptcy. 17 Mar. 15, 1891 Federal law on pensions for fed- 84,572

eral functionaries. 18 Oct. 18, 1891 Federal law on tariff

51.561 19 Dec.

6, 1991

Federal resolution on purchase 91,678

of Central Swiss R. R. 20 Feb. 3, 1895 Federal law on representation 37, 010

abroad. 21 Oct. 4, 1896 Federal law regulating cattle 45, 932

trude. 22 Federal law regulating railroad

59, 706 administration. 23

137, 824 219, 728


[blocks in formation]

Federal law on army discipline.. 69, 396 24 Feb. 28. 1897 Federal law on creating state 78, 340

bank, 25 Feb. 20, 1898 Federal law on purchase of rail- 85,505

ronds 26 May 20, 1900 Federi law on insurance against 117, 161


9.3 10.9

77,162 310,938 Rejected. 195,713 451, 728 Do.



182,718 | Accepted.



312, 111


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