• Switzerland's news in English

Referendum campaign opposes new combat jets

Malcolm Curtis · 8 Oct 2013, 22:55

Published: 08 Oct 2013 22:55 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The groups, who filed their bid in Bern on Tuesday, have four months to gather the 50,000 signatures necessary to put the issue on the ballot next year, which they are expected to be able to do with ease.

The decision by the federal cabinet to acquire the Saab JAS-39 combat planes remains deeply unpopular with the public, although the upper and lower houses of parliament backed the move in separate votes last month.

A survey published by weekly newspaper SonntagsBlick in early September showed 63 percent of respondents were opposed to the purchase of the aircraft.

The government wants to use the jets to replace its aging fleet of Northrop F-5 Tiger II pursuit planes.

The Swiss air force also has 33 McDonald Douglas F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets in its fleet.

The focus of the opposition to the Gripen planes is the cost, which is earmarked to be paid over 10 years from the budget of the Swiss armed forces.

According to armament specialists “a combat plane will come back in the end to cost three times its purchase price,” Adèle Thorens, co-chairman of the Green party, is quoted as saying by the ATS news agency.

“We are therefore talking here of an expenditure of nine billion francs,” she said.

“We oppose this extravagant expense.”

Socialist MP Evi Alleman from the canton of Bern said there was no need to waste billions of francs of tax money to “satisfy the dreams of a few fans of air defence”, ATS reported.

Given that Switzerland is surrounded by friendly countries, the risk of air combat is minuscule and the air forces F/A 18 Hornets are readily sufficient to patrol Swiss air space, Alleman indicated.

The Group for Switzerland without an Army is backing the referendum drive.

Story continues below…

Right-wing politicians who were initially divided over whether the Gripen was the right combat plane to buy have subsequently closed ranks.

Defence Minister Ueli Maurer, who is also Swiss president this year, has already stated that he plans to boil the issue over the Gripen planes down to a question of whether citizens are for or against the army.

Supporters of the aircraft will point to the involvement of the Group for Switzerland without an Army as proof that a vote against Gripen is a vote against the Swiss military.

Last month, the group failed in its referendum bid to end military conscription when 73 percent of voters rejected the idea.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
‘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.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

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