The Bicameral Federal Assembly (parliament), comprising the National Council and the Council of States. Both chambers are directly elected, but while the number of seats per canton in the National Council is apportioned according to the size of the population, each canton elects two representatives into the Council of States and each half-canton elects one representative, irrespective of the size of the population. Any law passed by both houses that modifies the constitution must be submitted to a referendum. Laws must also be submitted to a referendum if this is demanded by eight cantons or 50,000 citizens. Citizens may initiate changes to the constitution by gathering 100,000 signatures to petition for a referendum (people's initiative).
People can take direct influence by two means:
1. Initiative: 100'000 citizens can request a voting about a change or extension of the Bundesverfassung ("constitution") or the Bundesgesetzt ("federal law").
2. Referendum: If the Bundesrat wants to change or extend the Bundesverfassung ("constitution") or the Bundesgesetz ("federal law"), 50'000 citizens can request a voting about it.
All the cantons are divided into municipalities or communes of which there are at present 2903. Their number is tending to diminish as these municipalities merge.
Around one-fifth of these municipalities have their own parliament; in the other four-fifths,