Planning expert calls for nine Swiss cantons

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Malcolm Curtis - [email protected]
Planning expert calls for nine Swiss cantons

While voters in Basel-City and Basel-Country are set to vote later this month on a proposal to merge the two cantons, a former federal administration official is calling for more drastic measures to reduce the number of Swiss cantons.


Citizens in Basel’s two small cantons will decide on whether their future will be joined in a September 28th referendum.

But Pierre-Alain Rumley, former director of the federal office for spatial development, says Switzerland needs to go further to reduce its number of cantons from 26 to as few as nine.

The reduction is needed for cost and efficiency reasons, Rumley, now a professor at the University of Neuchâtel argues, according to an online report from SRF, the German-language national broadcaster.

Boundaries of cantons are no longer consistent with the reality of a country where 75 percent of the population now lives in urban areas, Rumley argues.

He has drawn up a map of Switzerland showing nine cantons, including a united Basel as the smallest.

Others would include a merged canton of Geneva and Vaud (L’arc lémanique or Genferseebogen) and a new Alpine canton dubbed Alpenbogen that would join Valais and Graubünden.

Other cantons would include an enlarged versions of Bern, Lucerne, Zurich, St. Gallen and the Jura (including Neuchâtel), along with Ticino.

Nowadays “26 cantons are too much,” Rumley said.

Already there is “very intense” cooperation among the cantons, he noted.

Rumley said his proposal for nine cantons was just one of several possibilities.

But how receptive are citizens to such regional reforms?

Not very, if we are to judge from recent history.

In 2002, voters in Geneva and Vaud massively rejected a merger proposal, with around 80 percent voting no.

In 1969, citizens in Basel-Country turned down a bid to merge with Basel-City.

The new vote later this month will show whether sentiment has changed.



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