The town of Moutier has decided to leave the canton of Berne and join the canton of Jura. This is the outcome of what was probably one of the most closely supervised votes in Swiss history. Precautions were necessary, because the 28 March vote was framed as the possible last chapter of an at times violent dispute that led to the establishment of the canton of Jura in 1977. After the creation of Jura, Moutier remained a bone of contention between the cantons of Berne and Jura. Now the recent vote may have brought the polemic to a peaceful conclusion.
The retirement age for women is now 65
Voluntary old-age and survivors’ insurance (OASI), the Swiss state pension scheme that was introduced in 1948, is in dire financial straits. The Council of States therefore decided in March to raise the female retirement age from 64 to 65 and increase VAT at the same time. However, it rejected a proposal to increase the OASI pension ceiling for retired married couples. Political rumblings over the retirement age and OASI reforms are therefore set to continue.
Divorce law clarifications
Marriage should not be reduced to an “insurance or pension vehicle”. In a press release published on 9 March 2021, the Federal Supreme Court (FSC) cemented this view by clarifying important elements of divorce law related to child maintenance payments. The FSC believes that financial autonomy must apply again when a marriage ends. In other words, each spouse must seek to support themselves financially after a divorce, say the judges. Extensive child maintenance payments extending over many years are to remain the exception.
Diplomatic bags to help people vote
Many in the “Fifth Switzerland” are unable to vote by post because their voting papers fail to arrive in time. As Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis announced in edition 2/2021 of “Swiss Review”, the use of diplomatic couriers and Swiss representations will be trialled in the June popular vote. We now know in which three countries the pilot will take place: Australia, Brazil and Thailand.
Switzerland’s population is increasing at a slower rate
In the Covid year of 2020, Switzerland recorded a 12 per cent increase in deaths as well as a reduction in the number of births. Immigration was also down. However, the population grew slightly year-on-year by 0.7 per cent to 8,667,700. This is because emigration fell even more sharply than immigration, by 15.6 per cent.
PICTURE: The town of Moutier voted on 28 March to join the canton of Jura – to much jubilation. Photo: Keystone