In 2017, 51.7% of voters in Moutier, a French-speaking Swiss town of around 7,000 people, voted to leave the predominantly German-speaking canton of Bern and become part of the canton of Jura, a process expected to be completed by 1 January 2021.
In Switzerland, changing canton is a big deal involving changes in tax rates, health and education systems, along with many other things affecting everyday life such as the official language.
Vote du 18 juin à #Moutier invalidé: le Gouvernement jurassien prend acte et pointe une décision manquant de preuves et de nature politique #CantonduJura https://t.co/v0ckZ6pquC pic.twitter.com/ndxyG7sbJ3
— Canton du Jura (@CantonduJura) 5 novembre 2018
However, last weekend an official from the Bernese Jura, the town’s current administration, declared the 2017 vote result, dubbed “Mouxit”, invalid based on allegations including propaganda, voting tourism and vote rigging. In a statement the regional executive council said: in the circumstances, negotiations for transferring the town will not be initiated.
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Some in favour of the town leaving the canton of Bern cried foul and describing the move as politically motivated.
The executive called for calm, pointing out that the decision is open to appeal.
What happens next is unclear. An appeal is one option, but this is likely to become a lengthy process. Another option would be to repeat the vote.
Meanwhile the town remains divided.