Any member of parliament may submit a proposal concerning pending issues with a view to rejecting, adopting or amending a draft bill (federal law, federal decree or Federal Assembly ordinance) which will be examined by the Council, or with a view to passing it to the Federal Council or to a committee. An order motion in particular enables a member of parliament to propose a modification of a procedure. Proposals are one of the main parliamentary tools.
A parliamentary initiative is a way of submitting a Federal Assembly bill or outline bill. A parliamentary committee of one of the two chambers is then responsible for the legislative work. It is not possible to submit a parliamentary initiative if it can be submitted in the form of a proposal concerning a pending issue.
A motion obliges the Federal Council to submit a draft federal assembly bill or to take appropriate measures. The approval of both chambers is required for a motion. A motion can be amended either in the second chamber at the request of the committee appointed to carry out a preliminary examination or at the request of the Federal Council. In this case, the modifications made are passed to the first chamber, which may approve them or reject the motion (but not modify it).
A postulate requires the Federal Council to examine whether it is appropriate either to submit a draft federal assembly bill or to take appropriate measures and to present a report on the subject.
In the case of an interpellation, the Federal Council is required to inform the Council about an issue of domestic or foreign policy which concerns the Confederation. A debate can be requested on the response given by the Federal Council. An interpellation can be declared urgent with the approval of the Office, requiring it to be dealt with during the current session as long as it has been submitted by the start of the third session of a 3-week session (usually the Wednesday of the first week of the session).
This is a request for information from the Federal Council on an issue of domestic or foreign policy. The question is replied to in writing and does not come before the chamber. A question can be declared urgent with the approval of the Leader of the National Council or the approval of the Office of the Council of States. It must have been submitted at least a week before the end of a 3-week session, or on the first day of a 1-week session.
In the National Council, the second and third weeks of the session start with question time devoted to topical issues. Interventions must be submitted by the close of the preceding Wednesday session at the latest. Questions have to be phrased concisely (at the most a few lines, without any grounds). A brief reply is given by the head of the relevant federal department, on condition that the member who submitted the question is present. The latter may subsequently ask an additional question on the same subject. A maximum of 90 minutes is allowed for question time.