Constant Fornerod

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Constant Fornerod (1880)

Constant Fornerod (born May 30, 1819 in Avenches , † November 27, 1899 in Bettens , entitled to live in Avenches) was a Swiss politician and legal scholar . In the canton of Vaud he was a member of both the Grand Council and the Council of State . From 1853 he sat in the Council of States and was President of the Council of States in 1855 . Also in 1855 he was elected to the Federal Council as a representative of the radical parliamentary group (today's FDP ) . He was a member of this until 1867 and headed four different departments. After his resignation, he ran a financial institution and had to serve a prison sentence of several years for its bankruptcy.



He was the son of Emmanuel-Rodolphe Constant and Susanne Barbey. The Constants belonged to the rural upper class, their father was a justice of the peace in Avenches. Constant Fornerod studied law and philosophy at the Academy in Lausanne from 1835 . There he was initially president of the Société d'Étudiants de Belles-Lettres , but then joined the Swiss Zofingerverein in 1836 , as was common with law students at the time. He completed further courses of study at the Eberhard-Karls-Universität in Tübingen and at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität in Heidelberg , and completed his training in Paris . He then worked as a lawyer and as a lecturer in Roman law at the Lausanne Academy.

Cantonal and federal politics

Fornerod's political career began in 1845 after the Radical Democrats took power in the canton of Vaud and introduced a new liberal constitution. Protected by Henri Druey , he was elected representative of the Avenches district in the Grand Conseil , the Cantonal Parliament of Vaud , to which he belonged until 1855. Also in 1845 the Great Council elected him state clerk . As Druey's successor, he rose to become a member of the Council of State in 1848 (executive and legislative offices were not mutually exclusive at the time). In this position, Fornerod headed the cantonal justice and police department. In 1853 the Grand Council appointed him one of the two representatives of Vaud in the Council of States . In 1855 he was President of the Council of States .

After the unexpected death of Drueys the Vaud claimed as the largest canton in French-speaking Switzerland will continue to sit in the Bundesrat . Since Louis-Henri Delarageaz showed no interest, François Briatte and Louis Blanchenay first came into focus. Although the Vaudois radicals had concerns, the 36-year-old Fornerod also ran. Jonas Furrer in particular stood up for him, while Alfred Escher had clear reservations because he had brought down the project of a national university in the Council of States, which had already been approved by the National Council . In the election on July 11, 1855, Fornerod was elected on July 11, 1855 by the Federal Assembly to succeed Drueys. In the third ballot he received 84 of 148 votes cast; 60 votes went to Briatte, 5 votes to other people.

Federal Council

Fornerod took office on the day of the election and took over the management of the Commerce and Customs Department . He had also been elected Vice President. For this reason, he was Federal President in his second year in office, 1856/57, and, in accordance with the custom at the time, temporarily headed the Political Department (Foreign Ministry). His first presidency was marked by the Neuchâtel Crisis and the relocation of federal built into the new parliament building . Fornerod was still single at the time and had a relationship with Sophie Leuzinger, who was 17 years his junior. Their child was born shortly before the end of the year and the couple secretly married in March 1858. The love affair only became public many years later and would have caused a major scandal at the time.

In 1858 Fornerod returned to the Commerce and Customs Department, after which he headed the Finance Department from 1859 to 1861 . In 1860 he allowed the use of French and Sardinian gold coins at their face value in Switzerland; this measure anticipated the Latin Monetary Union introduced five years later . During the Savoy trade , Fornerod sided with Jakob Stämpfli and advocated military intervention in Haute-Savoie , but was thus in the minority in the Federal Council. In 1862 he represented Federal President Stämpfli in the military department , although he had not done any military service in his entire life. In return, Stämpfli's supporters ensured that Fornerod could take over the office of Federal President again in 1863.

After Stämpfli's surprising resignation, Fornerod settled in the prestigious military department in 1863. In 1864, in the course of the armed conflict in the Risorgimento, he deployed troops to protect the border with Italy. The army introduced the breech-loading rifle across the board and upgraded the artillery, and the Thun barracks were also completed in 1866 . In 1867, Fornerod served a third time as Federal President. Surprisingly, on October 2, 1867, he announced his resignation on November 1, citing fatigue as the reason.

After the resignation

Soon after his hasty resignation, the public learned the real reason. Fornerod had taken over the management of the financial institution Crédit Franco-Suisse in Geneva , which moved to Paris a little later . As early as 1863 there had been rumors that he was involved in founding the Federal Bank initiated by Stämpfli . In general, the press found his entry into the lucrative banking business indecent. After the Franco-Prussian War , Crédit Franco-Suisse ran into financial difficulties and had to file for bankruptcy. Fornerod was arrested on June 27, 1873 and was placed in custody. On January 22, 1874, a court sentenced him to three years in prison and a fine of 2,000 francs as the responsible director . After his early release on September 6, 1875, he returned to Switzerland.

Fornerod's reputation was completely ruined, and the Swiss political elite ostracized and avoided him. Former Federal Councilor Paul Cérésole , now director of the Jura-Simplon Railway , showed sympathy and found him a job as a simple employee of the railway company. His brother Justin, a retired pastor, later took him in. When he died, Fornerod was living as a pensioner on a farm in Bettens , where he died alone at the age of 80.


Web links

Commons : Constant Fornerod  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Constant Fornerod. In: Alfred Escher-Briefedition. Alfred Escher Foundation, accessed on April 5, 2019 .
  2. a b Steiner, Altermatt: Das Bundesratlexikon. P. 81.
  3. ^ Steiner, Altermatt: Das Bundesratlexikon. Pp. 81-82.
  4. ^ Steiner, Altermatt: Das Bundesratlexikon. Pp. 82-83.
  5. ^ Steiner, Altermatt: Das Bundesratlexikon. Pp. 83-84.
  6. ^ Steiner, Altermatt: Das Bundesratlexikon. Pp. 84-85.
  7. a b Steiner, Altermatt: Das Bundesratlexikon. P. 85.
predecessor Office successor
Henri Druey Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Victor Luffy