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Parliament opts for bigger army and new jets

A proposal for a militia army consisting of at least 100,000 members and the purchase of new fighter jets has won a majority in parliament.

On Wednesday the House of Representatives followed the Senate in setting the minimum number of troops at 25 per cent higher than the figure proposed by the cabinet.

A majority of centre-right and rightwing parties argued that the country’s prosperity and security depended on having forces of a sufficient size.

However, their opponents on the left rejected their scenarios of a conventional military attack on Switzerland.

The chambers still disagree with each other over the details of the annual military budget and funding for 22 fighter jets to replace the current Tiger aircraft.

The government has proposed an annual military budget of SFr4.4 billion ($5.0 billion) but its wants to delay the purchase of aircraft for a few years.

The pacifist group, Switzerland without an Army, said it was considering plans to launch a new initiative next year to let voters have the final say on new fighter jets.

Since 1990 the army has been cut from 625,000 to 200,000.

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