Swiss men should not be forced to do military service, according to an initiative launched on Monday by various leftwing groups.
The Social Democratic Party, the Green Party and the Group for Switzerland without an Army (GSoA) argue that Switzerland’s army is inordinately large and that the only things its bored soldiers learn how to do is kill time.
Such a large defence force no longer reflects the reality of a post-Cold War world, they argue, adding that greater threats are posed by climate change, hunger or economic inequality.
If they can collect 100,000 signatures in favour of the amendment and hand them to the Federal Chancellery within 18 months, the people's initiative must be put to a nationwide vote.
At present, all able-bodied Swiss men between the ages of 20 and 36 must serve 260 days of military service.
If you are declared fit for military service – as on average two-thirds of conscripts are – the only way out is to opt for civilian community service on ethical grounds. This lasts 50 per cent longer than military service.
If you are declared unfit for military service, you can still be declared fit for civilian protection service – as on average a sixth of Swiss men are.
Those declared unfit for both military service and civilian protection service – on average also a sixth – have to hand over three per cent of their taxable income, with a minimum sum of SFr200.
Military and civilian protection service is optional for women and Swiss living abroad.
The Swiss army has an annual budget of just under SFr4 billion ($3.75 billion).
swissinfo.ch and agencies
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