There will be a showdown in Moutier on Sunday. The municipality votes on whether they want to move from the canton of Bern to the canton of Jura. The mood is tense – and the fighting spirit has long been inflamed.
The small town of Moutier in Bern will vote on Sunday to decide which canton it belongs to. Will she stay with the Canton of Bern or will she move to the Canton of Jura?
The church has been divided on this for decades.
An old question will now be answered anew on voting Sunday.
The federal government speaks of the “most complex vote ever carried out” – although it is only about the canton of the small town of Moutier. Moutier has around 7500 inhabitants and belongs – at least still – to the canton of Bern. That could change soon: a decision will be made on Sunday whether the town will belong to the canton of Jura in the future. The views of the two camps could not be more different: they contradict each other on every point.
1. The advantages of the individual cantons
“A change of canton does not bring a single advantage,” says Steve Léchot. He is head of the loyal Moutier Plus committee. For him, Bern is clearly the stronger canton: “Bern is more progressive and economically stronger than the canton of Jura,” said Léchot. In addition, many small villages are missing from Moutier: “A change of canton would represent an administrative border and block important relationships.”
The separatists, who would like to move to the canton of Jura, see it completely differently. This is not about blocked relationships, but about new opportunities: “The canton of Jura is much more dynamic than the canton of Bern,” says Valentin Zuber. As a local councilor, he is responsible for the Jura dossier. “It is a great opportunity for Moutier to become the second largest city in the canton of Jura instead of the twentieth largest city in Bern,” said Zuber. In this way one could gain political relevance. In addition: «Moutier is a French-speaking city with a Jura culture. We feel very far away from Bern. “
2. The conflicted prehistory
This distancing has its origins as early as 1815. Because Moutier has a long, conflicted history (see box). “For over a century, the people of the Jura have been fighting for their freedom,” says separatist Zuber. Moutier would have wanted to belong to the canton of Jura from the start. It is therefore time to “correct this historical error”.
For those loyal to Bern, however, this has long been history: “This debate belongs in the past,” said Léchot. It is now important to look ahead – which is apparently difficult for the other side: “The separatists want reparations for what happened in 1815. But we live in the 21st century – it is time to build new bridges instead of deepening old trenches. “
3. The current mood in Moutier
The mood on site is also perceived differently. The separatists are almost euphoric: «On Sunday we will write history! There are media from all over the world on site and everything is very exciting, ”says Zuber. They are also confident about the result: “I don’t want to make any forecasts, but there has been a Jura majority in Moutier since 1984.”
The voting struggle is perceived more gloomy by those loyal to Bern. “There can only be losers on Sunday,” said Léchot. The bitter voting battle hits everyone’s minds: “Is is no more joy to live in Moutier. ” You don’t live with each other, but against each other. Even their own election victory was frightening: “The separatists are extremists. They may not accept a no ”, fears Léchot. He does not dare to make a voting prognosis. “Anything can happen on Sunday.”
So where Moutier definitely belongs will be shown by Sunday evening at the latest. Whether this can also resolve the deeply rooted division of the town is another question.
Today’s canton of Jura used to belong to the canton of Bern. In 1815 the area of Bern was granted. The efforts of the Jurassians to found their own canton were ignored. That is why there have been repeated attempts and the conflict continues to intensify. The separatists carried out attacks and fought for their freedom. Towards the end of the 1970s, the canton of Bern then drew up an action plan: seven districts could vote on whether they would like to form their own canton. But the Jura was divided: only three of the districts voted for it.
In the other four districts, especially in Moutier, Jurassic separatism lived on. The Jurassic conflict flared up again and again. In 2017, Moutier therefore held another vote – and decided to move to the canton of Jura. However, the decision was annulled because of irregularities. The vote will now be repeated on March 28th.