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Grand Chasseral: Why is a Swiss region trying to change its name?

Grand Chasseral: Why is a Swiss region trying to change its name?

The Bernese Jura region of Canton Bern could soon be known by a new name, following the news that hundreds of local businesses and political parties have adopted the name “Grand Chasseral”. Here’s what you need to know about the new name, and why people want to use it.

Grand Chasseral brand quickly adopted in Bernese Jura

Launched at the end of 2022, the name Grand Chasseral is designed to be an alternative name for the Bernese Jura - a French-speaking region located in the north of Canton Bern and bordered by Solothurn, Neuchâtel and Jura itself. The name Grand Chasseral is derived from Chasseral, the highest mountain in the area. 

Speaking to blue News, Grand Chasseral Foundation president Patrick Linder said that the results of the attempted re-branding were “beyond expectations.” So far, over 200 local businesses and tourist organisations have started using the name instead of Bernese Jura. Perhaps more significantly, the local Green, Social Democratic and FDP parties have either switched to using the name or are planning to do so in the future.

Linder added that the adoption of the new name has spread far faster than expected, noting that “according to the specialists we consulted, the creation of a new denomination [often] takes many years” before it is used so much. In fact, Bernese Grand Councillor Hervé Gullotti (SP) has announced his interest in submitting a proposal that would make the new name official within the halls of government.

Bernese Jura versus Grand Chasseral: Why make the change?

So why do some want the name changed from Bernese Jura to Grand Chasseral? Much of the desire is based on the turbulent history of the region. Following the creation of French-speaking Canton Jura out of Canton Bern in 1979, the remaining French-speaking parts of Bern have been wracked with debates over whether to remain Bernese or join Jura.

This led to what 20 Minuten described as “several votes, riots, discord and chaos” in the region, which culminated in 2021 when the town of Moutier voted to switch from Bern to Jura. Therefore, for many, the name Bernese Jura is a reminder of a divided past that the region hopes to move on from.

Grand Chasseral name faces stiff opposition

However, not all are comfortable with the new name, with the Swiss People’s Party confirming that they would be sticking with Bernese Jura out of tradition. SVP Grand Councillor Jean-Pierre Graber told blue News that the name Grand Chasseral would further isolate the region as it is still largely unheard of in major cities like Zurich and Geneva

“To achieve real visibility, a few million francs would need to be invested,” Graber claimed. Blue news also noted that some do not like the name because the Chasseral mountain is shared with Canton Neuchâtel, and that ultimately, at least for now, the majority of the population defines itself as Juran-Bernese.

Jan de Boer

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Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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