Parliament wants to retain military service

Parliament wants to retain military service
Young men will continue to be called up. Photo: Department of Defence
Parliament has rejected an initiative by the Switzerland Without an Army pressure group to scrap conscription.

The Council of States on Tuesday voted by 34 to seven votes against abolishing compulsory service. The bigger chamber – the National Council – had already rejected it.

The centre-right majority expressed the view that the Army needed the manpower provided by general conscription.

The Group for a Switzerland without an Army had handed in its initiative in January 2012 with almost 107,000 signatures. This means the initiative will still come to a nationwide vote.

Founded in 1982, the group’s main goal is to “civilize” Swiss society by abolishing its Army, it states on its website.

Reform of the compulsory military service system has also been raised by liberal think-tank Avenir Suisse, the Swiss news agency SDA reported.

Avenir Suisse would like to see a general service introduced that would also apply to women and resident foreigners.

Conscripts would have a choice of Army service, working in civilian protection or in the civilian service, for example in a care home.

Civilian service has been offered as an alternative to military conscription since 1996. It is one and a half times longer than military service, lasting 390 days.

A Demoscope survey published last week showed a majority of Swiss backed the Avenir Suisse proposal.

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