• Switzerland's news in English

Sweden has 'secret plan' to tip Swiss Gripen vote

The Local/AFP · 12 Feb 2014, 08:38

Published: 12 Feb 2014 08:38 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Swedish military officials, high ranking civil servants in the government, and seven ministers were aware of the plan, public radio network Sveriges Radio reported.

The broadcaster reported that the Swedes acted after Maurer asked them for help in winning a May 18th referendum on the country's controversial multi-billion-franc purchase of Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets.

Outreach efforts are meant to reach all Swiss voters, with Maurer requesting Gripen demonstration flights every six weeks, include a showing at World Cup skiing races planned in March.

But Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Trade Minister Ewa Björling claimed they were unaware of any such plan.

Citing classified documents, Sveriges Radio claims that both Bildt and Björling, as well as Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, received a letter from the Swedish ambassador in Switzerland, Per Thöresson, describing the plan.

Among other things, the letter details how the embassy "is arranging interviews and pitching positive articles about Sweden" to the Swiss press.

However, Thöresson describes the actions as "regular embassy work".

"It's not a list to influence opinion — it's a list of events we have planned," he told SR.

In a December 17th letter to colleagues in Stockholm, Thöresson wrote, "Now it's 'only' about winning the referendum," according to Sveriges Radio.

A month earlier he wrote, "Considering how uncertain the outcome of the referendum is, our contribution can very well be what tips the scales."

In 2011, the Swiss government approved the 3.13-billion-franc ($3.47-billion) deal.

But opponents forced a referendum on the Gripen purchase after submitting more than 65,000 valid signatures expressing their disapproval.

Polls show a majority of voters oppose the deal, which cannot be blocked as such.

But under Switzerland's rules, opponents can contest the law on funding the purchase through an annual 300 million francs from the military's budget over ten years.

Story continues below…

Sweden's ambassador emphasized his letter should be interpreted "exactly as it's written".

"Everything points to this being a very close referendum," he told Sveriges Radio.. 

"It's not at all strange then that we implement our plan as planned." 

The Local/AFP (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