Why the coronavirus could again make Lucerne the capital of Switzerland
The fallout from the coronavirus could have an unlikely consequence, with lockdown measures forcing the government to shift the capital from Bern to Lucerne - albeit temporarily.
The Swiss national parliament is next scheduled to meet in June for its summer session - however will be unable to fit within Bern’s Bundeshaus due to official social distancing rules.
As it stands, only 41 of the 200 National Council members will be able to enter the Bundeshaus.
As reported in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, an offer from Lucerne could see the small city become the nation’s capital for the second time - albeit only for 21 days.
Sensing an opportunity, the larger Lucerne Exhibition Centre offered to host the annual gathering, providing an outline of how social distance requirements could be complied with.
The city and the canton have also signed on to support the project. Besides giving the city temporary ‘capital’ status, the move would also boost the city’s flagging hotel industry which has suffered significantly due to the coronavirus.
It is not the first time, however, that Lucerne has been the capital of Switzerland.
In 1798, Napoleon and his invading forces deemed the city to be the capital of the Helvetic Republic, before shifting the official capital to Bern in mid-1799.
Although Switzerland does not have an official capital, Bern is considered a ‘federal city’ and therefore noted to be the country’s de facto seat of government.
As reported in the NZZ, this would give Lucerne ‘federal city’ status - at least for the 21-day duration of the summer sessions.
The decision as to where the summer sessions will take place will be made on May 1st by the Federal Council.