University of Washington

A Better Initiative Process:
Washington State & Switzerland


Monday, October 29, 2012 in the Walker Ames Room, 225 Kane Hall, UW-Seattle

Posters for direct democracy campaigns in Switzerland and Washington State

Citizens of Washington State know well how important ballot initiatives and referenda are to governance. But few know the history of the process - and how the introduction of direct democracy 100 years ago was inspired by the example of Switzerland, a republic with the oldest continuously-operating system of initiative and referendum in the world. The processes in Switzerland and Washington are still so similar that a comparison between the two in powerful - and could be a vehicle for improving direct democracy in both places.

The Consul General of Switzerland and the Center for West European Studies at the University of Washington invite you to join a lively conversation and historic exchange, between experts and practitioners of democracy from Washington and Switzerland - and other initiative hotspots around the country and the world. For more information about the Consulate General of Switzerland, click here.


Living Voters Guide Presentation, 2:00-3:15pm
the Living Voters Guide is an interactive voters guide written by citizens, for citizens. By allowing voters to discuss the issues and candidates and to share their thoughts, the LVG promotes civic engagement and informed participation - above and beyond partisan politics.
Presented by Travis Kriplean, University of Washington

Panel discussion, 3:30-5:30pm
"What are the differences in how Washington State and Switzerland practice direct democracy? What are the similarities? And what could Washington take from the Swiss experience to improve the process? And vice versa?"
Opening remarks by Julius Anderegg, Consul General of Switzerland in San Francisco
Moderated by Professor Peter May, Department of Political Science, University of Washington

  • Tim Eyman, Political activist
  • Bruno Kaufmann, Author, IRI Europe
  • Joe Mathews, Journalist, New America Foundation
  • Mark Smith, Associate Professor, University of Washington


Center for West European Studies
120 Thomson Hall
Box 353650
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-3650
(206) 543-1675 office
(206) 616-2462 fax