The answer to voter apathy is "direct democracy", giving people the right to trigger referendums as is done in countries such as Switzerland, a delegate will tell the SNP conference in Glasgow this weekend.

Alex Orr, a candidate on the party's Lothian list, will argue tomorrow for an investigation of the feasibility of introducing such initiatives.

His motion states that adopting the concept would "see the sharing of power with the people, giving them real power and a direct say over the most important issues affecting their communities.

"This would include the triggering of referendums on any national or local issue once a requisite percentage of the electorate had signed a petition on the matter, as undertaken in countries such as Switzerland, the US and New Zealand."

He points out that polls have been triggered on issues such as abortion, smoking in public places and renewable energy, and this was a way to "reconnect people to the democratic process at a time of apathy and disengagement".

Mr Orr said: "It is about giving power back to the people. It is not pie in the sky, it is a set of democratic mechanisms that are in use around the world which can make people feel more empowered and connected to the political process."

In her conference speech today, deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon will pledge £10m over four years to boost drugs education in schools. She will criticise Labour for removing the ring-fencing of drugs education, and cite evidence that half of teachers do not feel equipped to educate children about the dangers of drugs.

Apart from her address today and Alex Salmond's main speech as leader tomorrow, the conference will consider further proposals to help young people get a foothold on the property market.

A motion from MSPs Tricia Marwick and Linda Fabiani cites the average age of first-time buyers rising to 37 and the fact that four out five Scottish towns are no longer affordable for first-time buyers.

In addition to the existing party pledge of £2000 grants for first-time buyers, their motion calls for the establishment of a Scottish Housing Support Trust which would be geared to assist more than 1000 new owners enter the market and reinvest its returns on loans to help future buyers.