• Switzerland's news in English

Euro countries with conscription a minority

AFP · 19 Sep 2013, 11:00

Published: 19 Sep 2013 11:00 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Compulsory since the start of the 19th century in most European countries, conscription armies have gradually been replaced by professional forces since the 1960s.
In Western Europe, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Austria, Greece and Cyprus are the only other countries to have kept their system of conscription.
Led by Britain and Luxembourg in the 1960s and followed in the 1990s and 2000s by nations including Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Poland and Germany, successive European nations have abandoned the call-up.
When it comes to those that maintain conscription, Norway has gone against the tide and is set to extend it to women, in line with a decision by the parliament voted last June.
This measure, passed in the name of equality between the sexes and expected to enter into force in 2015, is easy to exchange for civilian service.
In Finland, military service is compulsory for stints of between six and 12 months.

Civilian service, which is available for conscientious objectors, is not encouraged as it is twice as long as military service.
In Denmark military service is still in theory obligatory, but out of nearly 5,000 people in service in 2012, 95.8 percent were volunteers, with the remaining 4.2 percent being drawn out of a hat.
Estonia also maintains obligatory military service for a period of eight to 11 months.
In Austria, citizens overwhelmingly voted by 59.8 percent in January to maintain conscription. Some 22,000 every year carry out six months of military service.

Austrians who do not want to do military service can do nine months of civilian service.
In Cyprus and Greece conscription has also been maintained, while its duration has been progressively been reduced to 9-12 months.
Sunday's referendum in Switzerland marks the latest attempt by anti-military campaigners to use the Alpine country's system of direct democracy to scrap conscription.
Past efforts to do so, and even to abolish the army outright, have failed, however.

Polls show that around two-thirds of Swiss voters will support the status quo this time.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available