More federal oversight for Moutier vote re-run  

Passions still run high in Moutier over which canton the town should belong to. © Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

Authorities have announced a joint plan to ensure that re-run elections in the contested town of Moutier in northwest Switzerland next spring are fair, including a bigger role for the federal authorities.  

This content was published on November 6, 2020 - 15:35

In the latest chapter of one of the most divisive issues in recent Swiss politics, on March 28, 2021 the town of Moutier will decide for the second time whether to leave German-speaking canton Bern to join French-speaking Jura. 

This comes three years after the first vote, on June 18, 2017, which was narrowly won by the “separatists” wanting to join canton Jura. However, the vote aroused suspicions that some “electoral tourists” had registered themselves as eligible voters in Moutier without actually living there. Bern authorities overturned the result and this decision was later confirmed by the Bern administrative court. Besides irregularities, the court pointed to “inadmissible” propaganda by officials such as the mayor, who should have been neutral on the issue. 

The plan announced on Friday by Moutier municipality, canton Bern and the federal authorities aims to guarantee that the vote is fair and that people trust the results.   

The main novelty is a bigger role for the federal authorities. The Federal Office of Justice will have a bigger oversight role and will be responsible for verifying, securing and sending on March 6 voting material previously prepared by Moutier. As in 2017, the election and counting of the votes will also be monitored by federal observers.  

Bern Chancellor Christoph Auer said the March 28 vote must be “irreproachable so that the result is accepted by all parties”. 

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