Over the years some in the mainly French-speaking town of Moutier have tried to have the town removed from the canton of Bern and added to the canton of Jura, a movement dubbed “Mouxit”.
In Switzerland, changing cantons is a big deal. Many things, such as tax rates, health systems, education systems and official languages can change.
The cantonal politics of Moutier, a town of around 7,000, can be traced back to the formation of the canton of Jura, a region that broke away from Bern and became its own canton in 1979 after a vote. While a majority of those across the whole region drawn up to be included in the new canton of Jura voted in favour of breaking away, this was not so at a more granular regional level.
Moutier is a commune in one of four districts that decided to remain part of Bern, a largely German-speaking canton, rather than join the canton of Jura. However, this did not stop those with a preference to be part of the canton Jura from dreaming of trying again.
In 2017, 51.7% of voters in Moutier voted to leave the predominantly German-speaking canton of Bern and become part of the canton of Jura. The winning vote margin was only 137 ballots.
However, in 2018, the 2017 vote was invalidated based on allegations including propaganda, voting tourism and vote rigging.
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A week later, a tripartite group, including Simonetta Sommaruga of the Federal Council, concluded that the town should be allowed vote again on the issue should the Federal Tribunal definitively invalidate the referendum.
The vote was legally invalidated by the Federal Tribunal and a date set for a new vote. That date is this weekend on Sunday, 28 March 2021.
The vote will take place under strict federal government monitoring.