Last month’s vote on renovating the Montreux Music & Convention Centre has been declared null and void after almost 1,400 eligible local voters without Swiss citizenship did not receive their voting papers.
As a result of a computer mistake, not all the voters of Montreux had the same opportunity to exercise their political rights, explained the Vaud cantonal government.
In canton Vaud, in western Switzerland, foreigners are entitled to vote at municipal level. The computer error meant they couldn’t vote by post, so, after the mistake was discovered, the local authorities told the 1,397 foreign citizens to vote in person. Only 146 people made use of this option, the authorities said.
This means that only about 10% of eligible non-Swiss voters participated in the polling on February 10. Normally, their participation in cantonal votes is around 25%.
The cantonal government said the problem in sending out the voting documents had a “decisive impact” on the polling process. The result was extremely close with a difference of only 94 votes: 3,347 voters rejected the renovation (50.7%) and 3,253 backed it.
After the vote, the chief clerk of the Riviera-Pays-d’Enhaut district received more than 90 complaints.
The unexpected rejection of the reconstruction shocked the local authorities, the tourism industry and especially those responsible for the Montreux Jazz Festival.
The Montreux Music & Convention Centreexternal link (2m2c), built 45 years ago and host to many concerts during the Montreux Jazz Festival, no longer complies with today’s fire regulations. The renovation work was scheduled to begin after next year’s jazz festival. Montreux was set to contribute CHF27 million ($27.2 million) to the total renovation costs of CHF87 million.
What happens next is unclear. The Green Party, which welcomed the original vote result, said it was waiting for the cantonal government’s written explanation before deciding whether to appeal.