Chronology Jura Conflict

1815 At the Congress of Vienna, the Canton of Bern receives the former principality of Basle, now known as the Jura region, in compensation for the loss of Vaud and the Aargau.

1815–1945 Five protest movements in the Jura: 1826–31, 1834–36, 1838–39, 1867–69, 1913–19. They are all of short duration and fail to mobilize the people. Other lines of conflict, which divide the Jura rather than uniting it, take precedence.

1947 The Moeckli affair. Georges Moeckli, government member from the Jura, is denied the ministry of public works by the parliament in Bern on the grounds of his supposed “defective knowledge of German”. Two thousand demonstrators protest in Delémont. The Comité de Moutier is formed. Its goal: autonomy within the Canton of Bern. The Mouvement séparatiste jurassien (MSJ) is founded. In its newspaper “Jura libre”, it demands the separation of the Jura from Bern.

1948 The Comité de Moutier addresses a 21-point memorandum to the cantonal government in Bern; it demands autonomy for the Jura und the federalization of the Canton of Bern. The government in Bern is prepared to make only some less wide-ranging concessions.

1949 The cantonal government in Bern approves the first report on the Jura drawn up by Markus Feldmann.

29.10.1950 A referendum vote endorses a change to the Bern cantonal constitution – the Jura Statute – by a clear majority. In the new constitution, the existence of a “people of the Jura” – separate from the people of the old part of the canton – is explicitly recognized.

1951 The cantonal government in Bern recognises the Jura coat of arms. The MSJ renames itself the Rassemblement Jurassien (RJ)

1952 The Comité de Moutier is wound up. The anti-separatists form the Union des Patriotes Jurassiens (UPJ).

1957 The RJ launches an initiative aimed at determining what the people of the Jura think about founding a new Canton of Jura.

5.7.1959 Referendum vote – the RJ initiative is rejected.

1961 The separatists submit 4 popular initiative proposals. The referendum ballot takes place on 27.5.1962.

1962 The “Béliers” youth wing of the RJ is founded. The “Berberat” case: first lieutenant Romain Berberat is punished for declaring – at a separatist carnival at which he is wearing civilian clothes – Bern to be “an autocratic dictatorship of politicians who have never understood us”.

1963 The “Front de libération jurassien” (FLJ – Jura Liberation Front) admits carrying out arson and bomb attacks. It consists of three men who acted independently of the RJ.

1964 The “Les Rangiers” affair: separatist demonstrators interrupt a service of commemoration for the Swiss Army.

1967 The Bern government appoints the “Commission of the 24” to study the Jura issue. Its report outlines three options for the people of the Jura: status quo, autonomy, separation.

1968 At the suggestion of the Federal Council, Bern appoints the “Good Services Commission”; it is meant to mediate between the different parties and produces its “First Report” on 13.5.1969.

1.3.1970 Popular referendum vote on the “Supplement to the constitution of the Canton of Bern in respect of the Jura region”, which grants the right of self-determination to the Jura districts. Efforts to formulate an autonomous status fail.

23.6.1974 Popular consultation among Jura electorate: “Do you wish to form a new canton?”. A slim majority votes “Yes”.

16.3.1975 Popular consultations in the districts of Courtelary, Moutier and La Neuveville: “Do you want to continue to belong to the Canton of Bern?”. A majority in all the districts votes to remain with Bern.

7 and 14.9.1975 Popular consultations in border municipalities about which canton they want to belong to. Moutier, Grandval, Perrefitte, Rebévelier and Schelten – all municipalities with a Protestant majority – vote to remain with Bern. Chétillon, Corban, Courchapoix, Courrendlin, Lajoux, Les Genevez, Mervelier and Rossemaison (all with a Catholic majority) decide to join the Canton of Jura.

14.9.1975 Popular consultation: Laufental rejects accession to Bern. A law passed in November 1975 permits the Laufental to seek accession to a different, neighboring canton. A treaty of accession to Basle Country is made, but this is rejected in 1983 by the voters of Laufental. This decision is later declared invalid, and on 12.11.1989 Laufental decides to join Basle Country.

19.10.1975 The municipality of Roggenburg (Catholic, German-speaking) decides to remain with the district of Laufen.

21.3.1976 Election of a constitutional assembly in the Jura.

20.3.1977 Approval of the constitution of the new Canton of Jura in a popular referendum vote.

24.9.1978 The Swiss electorate agrees to the Canton of Jura being accepted into the Federation (popular referendum on an appropriate change to the constitution).

1.1.1979 The “République et canton du Jura” (the Republic and the Canton of Jura) is proclaimed. This raises the number of Swiss cantons to 26.

1980 A convention of the RJ in the municipality of Cortébert (in the Bernese Jura) is violently disruptedé Subsequently, violence gradually diminishes.

1990 The Canton of Bern applies to the Federal Court for the annulment of a popular initiative “Unite” launched by the RJ to create a law on the unity of the Jura. Two years later, the court decides in favour of Bern. In 1994, the Canton of Jura formally repeals the “Unite” law passed by the cantonal parliament.

8.3.1993 Dominique Haenni presents to the cantonal government his report on “The French speakers in the Canton of Bern”, which he drew up as a result of the Pétermann proposal of 7.9.1989. Haenni recommended a process of increasing autonomy for the French-speaking (“Jura”) areas of the Canton of Bern, as a means of improving the relationship between them and the canton.

19.1.1994 On the 19th January 1994 the Bernese parliament passes the “Law on the strengthening of political participation of the Bernese Jura and of the Frenchspeaking population of the municipality of Biel”, which continues to govern the position of the French-speaking minority in the Canton of Bern.

6.6.1993 The new Bernese cantonal constitution is approved in a referendum ballot. It enters into force on 1.1.1995. Uniquely, the Bernese Jura is granted special regional status (cf. Art. 5) within the canton. The three districts of the Bernese Jura are French-speaking and the roughly 51,000 inhabitants (5.4% of the total cantonal population) form a relatively small minority. Art. 5 (of the Bernese cantonal constitution) The Bernese Jura
1) Special status is accorded to the Bernese Jura, consisting of the districts of Courtelary, Moutier and La Neuveville. This should enable it to preserve its identity and its special linguistic and cultural character and to take an active part in cantonal politics.
2) The canton will adopt measures to strengthen the links between the Bernese Jura and the rest of the canton.

25.3.1994 An agreement between the federation and the cantons of Jura and Bern formalises dialogue between the Jura proper and the Bernese Jura and creates the Assemblée interjurassienne (AIJ) – the Inter-Jura Assembly. The Federal Council maintains regular contact with the governments of Bern and the Jura. The basic idea of the agreement is that the Jura region should work out its own proposals for solving the Jura question.

1.1.1994 Laufental joins the Canton of Basle Country.

10.3.1996 Federal popular referendum vote: the municipality of Vellerat joins the Canton of Jura.

29.11.1998 Moutier organizes a consultative vote on changing canton: 1891 voted in favor of joining the Jura and 1932 in favor of remaining with Bern.

27.9.2000 Report of the regional council (conseil régional Jura bernois et Bienne romande) on how increased autonomy for the Bernese Jura can be implemented.

20.12.2000 Resolution No. 44 of the Inter-Jura Assembly (AIJ) on how the Jura issue is to be addressed politically. It provides for a two-stage process: during the first two to three years, ways and means of creating cooperation between the Canton of Jura and the Bernese Jura are to be put in place. In the second, four-year, phase the practical results of the cooperation should be seen. There is a plan for a regional parliament with its own executive.

2003 The “Mouvement autonomiste jurassien” (Movement for the Autonomy of the Jura) (MAJ) launches the initiative “Un seul Jura” (One Jura). Their goal is a form of re-unification of the Jura: the three districts of the Bernese Jura are to be offered shared sovereignty across the whole territory of the six French-speaking districts of the Jura.

17.11.2004 The parliament of the Canton of Jura accepts the initiative “Un seul Jura” although the government had proposed to reject it mostly on legal grounds.

1.1.2006 The law on the special statute for the Bernese Jura and the French-speaking minority in the district of Biel (Special Statute Law, SstG) come into force. It is designed to enable the population of the Bernese Jura “to retain their identity within the canton, to maintain their linguistic and cultural individuality and to play an active part in the political life of the canton”.

1.7.2006 The law “Un seul Jura” comes into force. It provides a legal framework for a possible political resolution of the Jura conflict. It is the task of the Interjurassic Assembly to provide a study for the reconstitution of a new Canton of Jura of the six districts. On the basis of this study, planned to be ready in August 2008, a proposition for sharing sovereignty on the territory of the six districts will be made by the government of the Canton of Jura.

22.4.2009 Final report of the Interjurassic Assembly presenting possible solutions of the Jura conflict (

22.2.2012 The governments of the Cantons of Bern and Jura signed a memorandum of understanding to deteremine the form of procedures that are to be applied for deciding the institutional future of the Jura at the ballot box (

24.11.2013 The citizens of the Canton of Jura and the Bernese Jura voted on the proposal to launch a process aiming at creating a new canton to unite the Jura. The proposal was accepted by the voters in the Canton of Jura (76,6% voted Yes; turnout: 64,2%), but rejected by the voters in the Bernese Jura (28,15% voted Yes; turnout: 72,4%) with the exception of Moutier (55% voted Yes). In a next step, municipalities can still opt for joining the Jura by popular vote.

18.6.2017 Moutier decided to join the Canton of Jura. The referendum question was: “Voulez-vous que la commune de Moutier rejoigne la République et Canton du Jura?” (“Do you want that the municipality of Moutier joins the Canton of Jura?”).

17.9.2017 After Moutier’s decision to join the Canton of Jura, the municipalities of Sorvilier and Belprahon will vote on changing canton. In both cases a majority voted for remaining in Bern. In Belprahon 121 voters opted for Bern and 114 for Jura, only 5 citizens did not exercise their right to vote. In Sorvilier 121 voters opted for Bern and 62 for joining Jura.

Back to The Jura Conflict
uptdated 04.10.2017