The nerves are on fire in Bern. The vote on the change of the town of Moutier from the canton of Bern to the canton of Jura threatens to fail again. And this despite the fact that the Moutier vote from tomorrow, Sunday, is the most secure vote in Swiss history. The ballot papers are provided with watermarks, the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) supervises the entire ballot box and the counting of the ballot papers. Even election observers will be on site.
Because what happened on June 18, 2017 must not repeat itself under any circumstances: With a difference of only 137 votes, Moutier’s citizens decided to turn their backs on Bern and belong to the Jura in the future. But the joy of the Projurassier was short-lived: The vote on the change of canton was declared invalid. Not only because the city government had not behaved neutrally – there was also vote fraud.
Mayor is outraged: “It’s a huge disappointment”(02:24)
Hundreds of question marks
The Bernese government has therefore decided to monitor Moutier’s electoral register. “The aim and purpose of this control is a flawless electoral register and the removal of any doubts in relation to fictitious residence and voting tourism,” he wrote a year ago. And the federal government helps with the FOJ as a neutral body to guarantee the correctness of the vote. So it should be ruled out that what happened in June four years ago will happen again.
But now it turns out: it does repeat itself after all! With several hundred newcomers, the Bernese cantonal government doubts that they have actually decided to move their center of life to Moutier for the next few years. She wonders if they’re just doing this for the vote. Or do not live in Moutier at all, but only reported this to the authorities.
The federal government and the canton confirm the letter
VIEW is aware of a confidential letter that the Bernese government council has sent to the federal government. It contains a list of around a hundred people who have clear indications that they only registered in Moutier to influence the vote. The Bern State Chancellery confirms the existence of the letter on request: This is a response from the canton to a request from the department, said government spokesman Christian Kräuchi. This refers to the Justice Department of Karin Keller-Sutter (57), to which the FOJ belongs. But it is up to the federal government to provide information about this, said Kräuchi.
The canton of Jura was founded on January 1, 1979. The conflict between the French-speaking separatists and the canton of Bern, which flared up again after the Second World War, was supposed to come to an end – but it is not over to this day.
The dispute goes back a long way: at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, areas of the Principality of Basel went to the Canton of Bern. Since then, many in the Bernese Jura regions have felt oppressed by the German-speaking majority in the canton.
How great the anger is against the Bernese was shown in January 1993: A 21-year-old separatist wanted to plant a bomb in Bern’s town hall, but it went off too early on the edge of the old town. The young man was killed. He was Bélier, a member of the separatist militant youth organization. Material for further attacks was found.
As a result, the cantons of Jura, Bern and the federal government entered into a dialogue to resolve the Jura conflict. But efforts are still being made to bring communities in the Bernese Jura to the canton of Jura.
BJ information chief Ingrid Ryser is astonished that Bern is referring to the federal government. “After all, he classified the said letter as ‘confidential’. However, after the canton of Bern has confirmed the letter, I can do that too, ”she writes. However, since the information about the content of the letter could affect the relationship between the Confederation and the cantons or between cantons, she was not allowed to say anything about the content.
Lured unemployed people with money?
According to information from VIEW, the suspected cases involve people from different cantons of western Switzerland. For example the case of a 28-year-old who suddenly moved back in with his parents in Moutier. But because the man still has a job in another canton, one wonders why he suddenly wants to travel much further to work.
But unemployed people and very old pensioners are also said to have moved to Moutier. The seniors might want to help in their old age that their long-cherished wish comes true and that Moutier comes to the Jura. But job seekers raise a tricky question: Is there a financier who can get people with money to move and vote for a change of canton? The authorities will have to investigate this question if as few votes as in 2017 are decisive for the switch to the Jura. And if it can be proven that dozens of people on the Moutier list are wrongly registered in the electoral register, the validity of the referendum is once again highly questionable.
One has learned something
Confronted with the VIEW research, Moutiers mayor Marcel Winistoerfer (63) announced that he did not comment on questions relating to the electoral register. At least this time, Winistoerfer obviously does not want to be accused of a lack of neutrality.
Published: 03/27/2021, 1:35 a.m.
Last updated: 03/27/2021, 6:52 am