From the New York Times:
But Switzerland, which may be the world’s most direct democracy, takes fringiness to an entirely different level. Here, any citizen over the age of 18 can start a political party. To get on the ballot for Parliament’s lower house, all a party needs are 100 to 400 voter signatures, depending on the size of the canton.
Thanks to this low threshold, and an open, pluralistic political system, Switzerland has a tradition of colorful splinter parties, usually based in the larger, more urban cantons of Zurich and Bern. (A classic is the Auto Party, organized in 1985 to raise speed limits and limit traffic fines.)
While the Auto Party made it to Parliament, most splinter groups have next to no chance of winning. Still, they reflect “the will of people to actively participate in the election process,” wrote Mark Stucki, spokesman for the Swiss parliamentary services, in an e-mail.