Swiss German Town Votes To Go French

SWISS German town votes to go French after a landslide referendum

After a year of uncertainty, residents of a small town in northwestern Switzerland voted in a referendum on Sunday, March 28 to switch from a German-speaking canton to a French-speaking one. Switzerland is made up of 26 different cantons with four national languages. In 1978, the tiny town of Moutier, with a population of just 7,500 voted to retain the German language but the decision had become contentious and residents finally overturned the ruling yesterday.

The canton’s government leader Pierre-Alain Schnegg said that the will of the people was “extremely clear”, as a large majority voted to join French-speaking Jura. Popular opinion is that the town of Moutier will prosper more as one of the larger towns in French-speaking Jura rather than once of the smallest in German-speaking Bern, as they previously were.

There was a large turnout for the referendum with 89 per cent of residents casting their vote. The decision to move to the French canon was passed comfortably with 2,114 (55 per cent) for the change compared with 1,740 (45 per cent against).

A similar referendum actually took place in 2017 with 51.7 of residents voting to leave German-speaking Bern, but the ruling was overturned after there were allegations of propaganda and voting irregularities.

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Sarah Keane

Former teacher and health services manager with a Degree in English, Sarah moved to Spain from Southern Ireland with her husband, who runs his own car rental business, in 2019. She is now enjoying a completely different pace and quality of life on the Costa Blanca South, with wonderful Spanish and expat friends in Cabo Roig. Sarah began working with Euro Weekly News in 2020 and loves nothing more than bringing all the latest national and international news to her local community.

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