Josef Munzinger

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Josef Munzinger

Martin Josef Munzinger (born November 11, 1791 in Olten ; † February 6, 1855 in Bern , mostly called Josef Munzinger ) was a Swiss businessman , revolutionary and politician . In 1830 he brought about the overthrow of the conservative government of the canton of Solothurn and was elected one of the first federal councilors of the Swiss federal state in 1848. Munzinger belonged to the liberal faction (today's FDP ).

Two of his sons also gained prominence: Walther Munzinger (1830–1873) was a lawyer, canon lawyer and one of the founders of the Christian Catholic Church . Also known as Munzinger Pasha known Werner Munzinger (1832-1875) was Orientalist and explorer .



Portrait of Josef Munzinger (1791–1855) as a young revolutionary, painted by Martin Disteli (1802–1844).  Solothurn Art Museum
Portrait of Josef Munzinger as a young revolutionary

He was the second eldest son of the wealthy Olten businessman Konrad Munzinger and Elisabeth Schmid. His older brother Ulrich was mayor of Olten from 1831 to 1861 . Josef Munzinger, who was known to be linguistically gifted and music-loving, received his training at the college in Solothurn , at the monastery school in Muri and at the college in St. Michael in Friborg . After he had passed the Matura , he completed a commercial apprenticeship in Bologna . The hereditary patriciate of the city of Solothurn, disempowered in 1798 , overthrew the government on January 8, 1814, whereby Munzinger was politically radicalized.

The Munzinger brothers were involved in the protest movement against the conservative coup. They temporarily settled in Aargau , but after a short time surrendered and apologized. In May of the same year they were arrested and charged with civil disobedience, but were released on June 2, 1814 in the (ultimately failed) attempted coup by the liberal forces. Josef Munzinger fled into exile in Como and was sentenced to three years' expulsion from the country. Due to an amnesty arranged by the Russian envoy , he was able to return that same year. From 1817 to 1825 he held the office of town clerk of Olten and ran agriculture on his parents' property, but largely stayed out of politics.

Cantonal and federal politics

Portrait of Josef Munzinger in connection with the meeting in Balsthal on November 22, 1831

In response to the July Revolution of 1830 in France, Munzinger became politically active again and joined the liberals . On December 22nd, 1830, one month after the Ustertag in the canton of Zurich , a people's assembly was also held in the canton of Solothurn. In Balsthal , Munzinger proclaimed unconditional popular sovereignty in front of around 2500 listeners and made 17 demands. In particular, the demand for the abolition of tithe met with great approval from the rural population. The aristocratic government had to give in to pressure and resign.

On January 13, 1831, a new constitution came into force, which granted the previously disadvantaged rural population more political rights. Munzinger was then elected to the Grand Council and then delegated to the Small Council ( cantonal government ). After the elections of 1833 Munzinger was Landammann and thus chairman of the cantonal government for 15 years . Under his leadership, legal equality was achieved in the canton of Solothurn, tithe abolished, the school system reformed and the infrastructure improved. Munzinger was also President of the Grand Council in 1833/34, 1837/38 and 1840.

With the constitutional revision in January 1841, the liberal forces finally prevailed. However, Munzinger had to take legal action against the Catholic-Democratic Conservatives, led by Theodor Scherer-Boccard , under (bloodlessly) opening of cannons, in order to prevent similar events like the Züriputsch two years before. That the old liberals von Schlage Munzingers were liberal, but still remained Roman Catholic, shows the fact that Catholicism in this constitution still remained a privileged denomination. In contrast to Aargau, the monasteries remained untouched, and Solothurn also did not ratify the Baden articles .

Relief on the Munzinger monument in Olten

Munzinger represented the canton of Solothurn from 1831 at the federal diets . In 1847 he secured the approval of the Grand Council to vote for the use of armed force in the dissolution of the Sonderbund . After the liberal cantons prevailed in the Sonderbund War , Munzinger was involved in drafting the federal constitution . He successfully campaigned for a bicameral parliament, while the denominational exception article rejected. In the autumn of 1848 he stayed with Alfred Escher in the canton of Ticino to mediate between rival political camps on behalf of the daily statute. In his absence, the Grand Council delegated him to the Council of States .

Federal Council

When the Federal Assembly ran for the first Federal Council election on November 16, 1848 , Munzinger was still in Ticino. The parliamentarians elected him in absentia to the fourth Federal Council, whereby he received 71 votes in the second ballot (24 votes went to Stefano Franscini , 17 to Jakob Robert Steiger and 20 to other people). The decisive factor was the fact that Munzinger was Catholic, but represented a canton that had not belonged to the Sonderbund and had been liberal for a long time.

As the first head of the finance department , Munzinger's main tasks were to put the young state's finances in order and to create the legal basis for the introduction of a single currency. In doing so, he broke the resistance of the cantons of eastern Switzerland, which were economically closely intertwined with southern Germany and preferred the guilder . Munzinger implemented the decimal system based on the French model and was able to introduce the Swiss franc in 1850 . After Munzinger had been Vice President for a year, he took over the office of Federal President for one year in 1851 and as such, as was customary at the time, headed the Political Department .

In 1852 Munzinger temporarily returned to the finance department, and in 1853 and 1854 he was head of the post and construction department . With his ideas for the first Jura water correction , he was unable to assert himself in the entire Federal Council. He suffered increasingly from depression and from a serious, undiagnosed nervous disease. Because of months of treatment in Baden and Bad Ragaz , he was often unable to attend Federal Council meetings. Although he was already severely affected by his illness and had to rely on a wheelchair, Munzinger was re-confirmed in office in December 1854. The later Federal Councilor Jakob Dubs wrote about it in his diary: "Munzinger was re-elected out of mercy, in the hope that he would soon make way in one way or another." Munzinger only headed the Trade and Customs Department for a few weeks : he collapsed during the Federal Council meeting on January 31, 1855, and died a week later at the age of 63.


Web links

Commons : Josef Munzinger  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Altermatt, Studer: Das Bundesratslexikon. P. 51.
  2. Solothurner Zeitung of August 6, 2019: No major changes due to monument protection: This is how the Gasthof Rössli is being renovated
  3. ^ Altermatt, Studer: Das Bundesratslexikon. Pp. 51-52.
  4. ^ A b c Altermatt, Studer: Das Bundesratslexikon. P. 52.
  5. ^ Altermatt, Studer: Das Bundesratslexikon. P. 53.
  6. ^ Altermatt, Studer: Das Bundesratslexikon. Pp. 54-55.
predecessor Office successor
- Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Josef Martin Knüsel