In political science, an initiative (also known as a popular or citizens' initiative) is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote (plebiscite). The vote may be on a proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance, or, in its minimal form, to simply oblige the executive or legislative bodies to consider the subject by submitting it to the order of the day. It is a form of direct democracy.
The initiative may take the form of either the direct initiative or indirect initiative. Under the direct initiative, a measure is put directly to a vote after being submitted by a petition. Under the indirect initiative, a measure is first referred to the legislature, and then put to a popular vote only if not enacted by the legislature. In United States usage, a popular vote on a specific measure is referred to as a referendum only when originating with the legislature. Such a vote is known, when originating in the initiative process, as an "initiative," "ballot measure" or "proposition." In New Zealand a vote initiated by the public is called a citizen initiated referendum.
Famous quotes containing the word initiative:
“You will belong to that minority which, according to current Washington doctrine, must be protected in its affluence lest its energy and initiative be impaired. Your position will be in contrast to that of the poor, to whom money, especially if it is from public sources, is held to be deeply damaging.”
—John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908)
“I am firmly opposed to the government entering into any business the major purpose of which is competition with our citizens ... for the Federal Government deliberately to go out to build up and expand ... a power and manufacturing business is to break down the initiative and enterprise of the American people; it is the destruction of equality of opportunity amongst our people, it is the negation of the ideals upon which our civilization has been based.”
—Herbert Hoover (18741964)
“A shocking crime was committed on the unscrupulous initiative of few individuals, with the blessing of more, and amid the passive acquiescence of all.”
—Tacitus (c. 55120)