Justice authorities have opened an inquiry into alleged fraud during a local vote in the Swiss town of Moutier three months ago.
The SonntagsZeitung and le Matin Dimanche newspapers said the Bern attorney general’s office was examining complaints about “irregularities” in connection with a popular vote about Moutier’s plans to join canton Jura, breaking away from canton Bern.
The authorities declined to give further details, but there are reports of stolen ballot papers.
It is not clear whether the latest complaint will lead to a formal criminal investigation or even a possible re-vote.
On June 18, voters in Moutier decided in favour of the French-speaking canton of Jura, in the latest stage of a long-running territorial conflict in Switzerland. The political fight by separatists and a nationwide vote led to the creation of a 26th Swiss canton in 1979.
Three months ago, supporters of Moutier’s secession from German-speaking canton Bern won with a margin of 137 votes. A total of 4,000 citizens took part in the ballot – an unusually high turnout of 88%.
The report about the inquiry comes a week ahead of another two local votes on the same issue in the small villages of Belprahon and Sorvilier.
Complaints about alleged irregularities in popular votes and elections in Switzerland are not unusual, but they rarely lead to a new ballot.
Earlier this year, several complaints were filed following government elections in canton Valais. But parliament threw out a legal protest, saying the cases of confirmed irregularities did not have a decisive impact on the result.