Period IV newsletter

Délemont (Jura), Musée d’art et d’histoire. Photo: TES.

Exit in Switzerland

It did not receive a lot of attention outside Switzerland, but an exit drama is taking place in canton Bern. A majority of voters of Moutier voted in favour of leaving the canton of Bern and joining the canton of Jura instead, by 2 067 votes favour vs.1 930 against, a difference of 137 votes. The canton of Jura (République et Canton du Jura) is already a separation from the canton of Bern as a result of the referendum on 24 September 1978. However, Moutier, Belprahon, Perrefitte, and Sorvilier chose to remain in the canton of Bern. On 5 November 2018, however, the result of the referendum of 18 June 2017 was declared invalid because of irregularities. The highest court, the Bundesgericht in Lausanne, will give a final ordeal.

The history of these referendums goes back more than 200 years. The area of the canton of Jura and Moutier, Belprahon, Perrefitte, and Sorvilier was assigned to the canton of Bern by agreement of the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The canton of Basel was given the Birseck, which merged into the new canton of Basellandt in 1832. The Congress wanted to restore the balance and the old regimes after the Napoleonic wars and the (French) revolutionary movements. The four great powers of the time, Prussia, Austria, Russia, and England, surrounded France with powerful countries. In the north the Kingdom of the Netherlands (the Netherlands and Belgium, which separated in 1831), in the south the Kingdom of Spain and in the east the Swiss Confederation of 22 cantons and the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia (part of France in 1860) and on the Rhine the areas allocated to Prussia.

The diocese of Basel continued to exist after 1815, but the bishop lost the worldly power over his territory.  The Jura was French-speaking, but with Catholic and Protestant regions and cities. Moutier, Belprahon, Perrefitte and Sorvilier are Protestant, the northern part of the Jura is Catholic. The (legal) emotions and tensions have risen high because of Mexit.  (Source: J.-C. Rebetez, D. Bregnard, Le Jura et Berne. Bicentenaire du Congrès de Vienne 1815, Porrentruy 2015).