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A process of a participatory democracy that empowers the people to propose legislation and to enact or reject the laws at the polls independent of the lawmaking power of the governing body.

The purpose of an initiative, which is a type of election commenced and carried out by the people, is to permit the electorate to resolve questions where their elected representatives fail to do so or refuse to proceed with a change that the public desires.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

INITIATIVE, French law. The name given to the important prerogative given by the charte constitutionelle, art. 16, to the late king to propose through his ministers projects of laws. 1 Toull. n. 39. See Veto.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
British MEP Richard Corbett (PES) says that the European Parliament "is not challenging the Commission's right of initiative, which is part of the constitutional balance, but [is challenging] the other side of the coin and, in particular, its power to withdraw proposals".
Ana Gomes (S&D, Portugal) regretted that the ESDP was not used for coordination in connection with setting up the no-fly zone and pointed out that pursuant to the Lisbon Treaty, Ashton is entitled to use her right of initiative, particularly to convince the foreign ministers.
"Citizens now have the same political right of initiative as the European Parliament and member states", declared French Conservative MEP Alain Lamassoure, co-rapporteur on the text, which has been striving towards its adoption since the draft EU Constitution.
However, Barroso said "we will use our right of initiative to present formal proposals on the EU's own resources before the end of June 2011," which elicited a warmly favourable response in the hemicycle.
Creation of this right of initiative is admittedly a small step towards direct democracy, but it is a big step for the Union, summed up the British MEP, who praised the merits of the Swiss system on which it is more or less based.
In this instance, the EP has the right of initiative. This means that once the draft proposal gets the Parliament's nod, it will be submitted to the Council, which will decide whether or not it is in favour of holding a convention involving the European Commission, EP and national parliaments.
Parliament, states Article 116 of the report, considers that the Commission, which is responsible for defining Europe's general interest, must give precedence, under its right of initiative, to acting on behalf of the Union where it has shared competences and cannot make do with defining parameters for states and market players.
It has to speed up its work." He warned that if the Commission "wishes to keep its right of initiative, it has to propose operational solutions that are better suited to the reality on the ground".
"I therefore proposed adding an article giving a right of initiative to civil society that is equal to the European Parliament's," explains the professor.