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Swiss in line with army support

Despite a recent vote against new fighter jets, support for the army overall is high Keystone

Despite a decision by Swiss voters to refuse the purchase of Swedish Gripen fighter jets on May 18, support for the army in Switzerland is at a high according to the latest security report by Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ).

This content was published on May 30, 2014 - 14:03
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The study, published by the institute’s Military Academy and Center for Security Studies on Friday, revealed that 80% of those surveyed considered there to be a need for the army.

“In the last 20 years this value has never been so high,” said the authors in a statement. It was also 8% more than in 2013.

In addition, 61% of respondents were in favour of a militia army and against abolishing compulsory military service, the highest percentage since the 1990s. 70% wanted a well-equipped army.

Nevertheless, the Swiss population did not feel under threat, feeling - as in previous years - safe and confident about the future.

Cyber attacks were top of Swiss security worries, followed by crime, organised crime and migration. On this latter point, the authors pointed to the campaign that led up to the acceptance of the anti-immigration initiative to cap European Union migration in another vote in February.

Autonomy

Where the population made their views particularly clear was in the realms of autonomy and neutrality.

“The desire for economic and political autonomy is particularly high,” said the authors, as was people’s desire to be responsible for their own defence. Thus, the number of those in favour of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has reached a low and joining the European Union is seen as “having no chance” with only 17% support. But 81% did say they wanted purely political and economic cooperation with the EU.

Just over half of those questioned believed that Switzerland should focus purely on national defence.

The findings are based on telephone interviews with 1,200 citizens across the country carried out in January.

The pacifist Switzerland Without an Army group responded to an issue currently on the political agenda, that of raising the army’s budget. In a statement, they said that only just about 9% of those surveyed wanted the budget to be increased.

Its secretary, Nikolai Schaffner said: “The majority will not tolerate the army being given a blank cheque, while there’s no money for old age insurance, training and reducing debt”.

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