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Local News Summary of November, 30th

  • Basel votes on Grand Council quorum and Kaserne in February
  • Government requests 13 million Swiss francs for renovation of St. Alban-Graben in Basel
  • Bird flu reaches Birsfelden near Basel

Basel votes on Grand Council quorum and Kaserne in February

Registered voters of Basel will decide on three federal and two cantonal matters on 12 February 2017: a proposed constitutional change for the annulment of the quorum when electing the Grand Council, and concerning the Kaserne reconstruction project.

The Grand Council had revised the election law in April 2016 and annulled the quorum (which had only been introduced in 2012) for mid-2017. No referendum was submitted against this decision; however, for this constitutional article, a popular vote is mandatory.

Specifically, political parties are allowed to enter seat distribution in our city canton if they gain four per cent of votes in an electoral district – which applies for every district on its own. In the elections of 2012, this caused shifts. Consequently, the Grand Council submitted a motion for a cantonal quorum of five per cent.

The government was not happy with another change in the election law within such a short time. Likewise, it was not an easy decision for the Grand Council. After a turbulent debate, the parliament then abandoned the idea of a five-per-cent election barrier and decided to annul the quorum entirely.

Regarding the Kaserne vote, the Grand Council had accepted a reconstruction project for the building in the sum of 44.6 million Swiss francs this September. The controversial project of the Basel architectural office Focketyn del Rio plans to make the main Kaserne building earthquake-safe and open it to more flexible use. A centre-liberal referendum was launched against these plans.


Government requests 13 million Swiss francs for renovation of St. Alban-Graben in Basel

The St. Alban-Graben should become safer and more attractive. A roundabout is planned for the area by the Kunstmuseum. Basel’s government requests about 13 million Swiss francs from the Grand Council for the renovation and redesign.

The newly-planned roundabout at the Kunstmuseum shall ensure higher traffic safety und improve the flow of traffic, a government notice informed on Tuesday. Tram traffic passing the roundabout is set to be controlled with a light signal system.

The project also includes a continuous bicycle lane towards Bankverein, wider sidewalks, and a renovation of tram stops. In the future, trams going to Wettsteinplatz should stop directly by the sidewalk and not on special tram islands any longer.

Parts of the road and tram lanes also need renovation, it was stated further. The location of tram lanes, which were already replaced due to their bad condition after the construction of the subterranean linking block for the Kunstmuseum, needs to be readjusted once again.

The government aims to link the renovation and redesign with the plans for the new parking lot Kunstmuseum underneath St. Alban-Graben. Construction of the parking is set to begin in early 2018 and it should open in 2021.


Bird flu reaches Birsfelden near Basel

The bird flu virus H5N8 has reached the region of Basel: a dead male mallard duck which was discovered on Friday in Birsfelden by the Rhine had been infected with the virus. The disease had first appeared in Switzerland at the beginning of November further up the Rhine in the Bodensee region.

The Department of Economic Affairs and Health (VGD) of Baselland informed on Tuesday that the virus had now arrived in the Baselbiet with the discovery of the dead duck in Birsfelden. The case confirmed the spreading of the virus in wild bird populations along the Rhine.

The highly contagious disease is carried by migratory birds that make stopovers on their way to their wintering grounds. There are currently no indicators for infections in Swiss poultry businesses, it was stated further. According to current levels of knowledge, the virus is not contagious for humans.

After first occurrences in the Bodensee region, the bird flu virus had appeared at Lake Geneva, Lake Neuchatel, Lac de Joux, and at different lakes in central Switzerland. The federal government had issued several protective measures for poultry farming in mid-November, all of which need an official registration.