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Join the conversation – your opportunities to have a say

Opportunities for participation for people with and without a Swiss passport in the city of Zurich

In the city of Zurich, there are many ways in which you can participate in the design and development of the city and how you can participate . For a good coexistence, it is important that as many residents of the city as possible get involved. Regardless of their origin or passport. Thus, your participation is also very welcome.

The City of Zurich strives to ensure that all people living in the city can participate in various political participation processes. The participation and influence as well as the civil society engagement of a person or a group on the decisions of politics is understood as a political participation process. 

Political participation processes

The political participation processes are about the participation and influence as well as the civil society engagement of a person or a group on the decisions of politics. A distinction can be made between political participation in the narrower sense and political participation in the broader sense.
Political participation in the narrower sense includes the right to participate in federal, cantonal and municipal votes and elections. This means that voters are allowed to vote on substantive proposals. They may also elect parliament and the government or be elected themselves. Political participation in the narrower sense also includes the right to take an initiative or a referendum. In the Canton of Zurich, only Swiss citizens of legal age and ability to judge have the right to political participation in the narrower sense.
Political participation in the broader sense involves influencing political decision-making and decision-making processes, in the sense of the "Citoyenneté" (which is synonymous with "active citizenship"). In particular, it includes the right to freedom of expression and the possibility of influencing political decisions through civil society engagement. The right to political participation in the broader sense is enshrined in the fundamental rights of the Swiss Federal Constitution (BV). It applies to the entire population, regardless of their origin or passport.

Political participation processes
Political rights
 Votes and elections
Civil rights

Right to vote and to vote

The voting and electoral law(Art. 136 of the Federal Constitution) is a political right that is linked to Swiss citizenship in the Canton of Zurich (Art. 37 of the Federal Constitution). In addition to Swiss citizenship, it requires the age of majority and the ability to judge.
According to the Federal Constitution, the cantons may decide whether to grant foreigners the right to vote and to vote in cantonal and/or municipal matters. In the Canton of Zurich, the granting of the right to vote for foreigners was last rejected in a referendum in 2013.

Political rights
Foreigners' right to vote


Depending on the personal situation, different procedures are used for obtaining Swiss citizenship . Spouses of Swiss nationals, children of a Swiss parent or stateless children are naturalised according to simplified procedures . For all others, the ordinary procedure applies to naturalization. The Naturalisation Department of the Zurich City Chancellery provides information on the requirements for naturalisation.

Dept. Naturalizations

Implement your own initiative

Through commitment, the city of Zurich can be helped to shape and develop. Personal initiatives are an important part of civil society and part of political participation, in the spirit of the "Citoyenneté". The City of Zurich particularly welcomes the initiatives and voluntary commitment of private individuals and associations that contribute to improving the living environment and coexistence in the district . Various municipal offices (Office for Social Space & City Life, Contact Point for Volunteer work and the promotion of integration) as well as the Zurich Community Centres and the Open Youth Work Zurich (OJA) can advise the population on the implementation.

Office for Social Space & City Life
Contact point for volunteering
Loans Integration Projects
Zurich Community Centres
OJA – Open Youth Work Zurich

Examples of implemented self-initiatives:
Spring Festival Mosaic
Association Röntgenareal

Participation procedure of the city administration

Today, many ideas, plans and concepts of the public sector are developed in dialogue with those affected. The Zurich City Council attaches great importance to cooperation with the population, companies and private actors. Participation procedures (participation processes) are therefore part of the administrative culture of the City of Zurich.

Within the participation procedures, you can help shape and shape the future of your district or your direct living environment. The participation procedures (for example, for the collection of ideas for the redesign of a square) are announced in the district newspapers as well as on the Internet on the pages of the Office for Social Space & City Life and the district associations (among the respective city districts and districts).

In addition, there are formal, legally regulated participation procedures for all planning and construction projects. These projects are advertised in the Tagblatt of the City of Zurich (under "Official"). Depending on the project, there are possibilities of speaking and appealing against the project for those directly affected.

Participation processes
Tagblatt of the City of Zurich
Neighbourhood newspapers
Office for Social Space & City Life
Neighbourhood associations of the City of Zurich

Examples of implemented participation procedures:
District workshop without borders
Upgrading of the Centre Area Albisrieden
Redesign Röschibachplatz

Parental involvement

In the city of Zurich, the schools work together with the parents of the pupils. Interested parents can get involved in the Parents ' Council or the Parents' Forum for parental participation in schools. The focus is on the well-being of the children. Interested parties can contact the schools directly. In most cases, parents' evenings provide information about the possibilities for parents to participate in the schools.

Parental participation in schools 

Membership in a neighbourhood association

Neighbourhood associations are committed to maintaining and improving the quality of life in the neighbourhoods. Within the districts, they are important carriers of integration and networking. Their events serve to form opinions and inform the local population, in the spirit of political participation.
The 25 neighbourhood associations in the city of Zurich are in dialogue with the city administration and also represent the interests of the district vis-à-vis the city administration. All interested persons can join a neighbourhood association. Through active membership in a neighbourhood association, you will receive important information and can have a say in the concerns of the district.

Neighbourhood associations of the City of Zurich 

Membership in a political party

Parties associate politically interested people with similar attitudes and values. They are usually organized per city district. The local parties deal with various political issues and represent the concerns of their members in the political discourse. Its tasks also include attracting and supporting candidates for public office as well as participating in consultation procedures on new laws.

Membership in a party is also possible for people without a Swiss passport. Through active membership in a party, you can bring your opinion into the political discourse. Membership can be applied for directly from the parties.

Political parties
Parties represented in the city parliament
Parties in the City of Zurich


With your concerns, you can contact the competent authority directly.

You also have the option of submitting a petition. A petition is a written request, suggestion, complaint or request to an authority. It is considered a fundamental right (Art. 33 of the BV) for every person capable of judgement. With this right, the population can address its interests directly to the competent authority.

In the city of Zurich, any person capable of judgement can launch a petition, collect signatures for it and submit it in writing to the city council or to the competent authority. The competent authority must examine the petition submitted and comment on it within six months.

If your request is a conflict between you and the city administration, you can contact the Ombudsman Office of the City of Zurich . It will examine your concerns, inform you about the applicable regulations and, if necessary, look for mutually satisfactory solutions.

Launch a petition
Example of a petition:
"To preserve the trees on Kornhausstrasse".

Petitions are also possible vis-à-vis private individuals or legal entities. In contrast to petitions to authorities, private or legal persons do not have to comment on this.

In case of problems with the Zurich city administration:
Ombudsman's Office of the City of Zurich 

Membership in associations, trade unions, cooperatives

Associations, trade unions and cooperatives connect people with similar interests. They make a valuable contribution to integration and represent the interests of their members. Active commitment pays off, whether by helping with an event or by taking on a management function.

With a membership in such an organization, your interest receives more weight to the outside world. Membership can be applied for directly from the individual associations, trade unions or cooperatives. It is also possible to found an association yourself.
Migrant organisations and religious communities

Information on the foundation of the association:
Vitamin B 

Meeting of migrant organisations

At least once a year, the Foreigners' Advisory Council of the City of Zurich together with the Integration Promotion of the City of Zurich invites representatives of migrant organisations and religious communities to an exchange meeting . At this meeting, integration policy and specific concerns can be raised directly with the representatives of the City of Zurich .

Migrant organisations and religious communities 

Foreigners' Advisory Board

Since 2005, there has been an Advisory Council for Foreigners in the City of Zurich. This body advises the city council. It conveys to the city council the concerns and needs of the foreign resident population.
The city council appoints the advisory boards on the proposal of the mayor. Interested parties can contact the Integration Promotion Of the City of Zurich. You must live in the city of Zurich at the time of the election and must not have Swiss citizenship.

Foreigners' Advisory Council of the City of Zurich
Promotion of integration by the City of Zurich 

Language requirements

What are the language requirements for political participation?
In principle, everyone has the right to have a say, regardless of their language skills. However, experience shows that basic knowledge of the German language is an advantage for political participation in the city of Zurich. The Integration Promotion of the City of Zurich helps in the search for a suitable German course.

German Course Advice City of Zurich 

more information