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Direct democracy Anti-arms trade initiative likely to come to vote

handing in the initiative in June

The initiative was handed in to the Federal Chancellery on June 21, which then checked the signatures

(Keystone)

Swiss voters are likely to have the final say on a people’s initiative to ban the financing of companies that produce war materiel.

The Federal Chancellery says enough valid signatures - handed in last month - have been collected.

The chancellery said on Fridayexternal link that 104,612 signatures were valid - 100,000 signatures are needed within 18 months of the initiativeexternal link being launched for it to be accepted.

No date has yet been set for the vote.

The initiative, launched by the pacifist group Switzerland without an Armyexternal link in April 2017, wants to ban the Swiss National Bank, foundations and pension schemes from investing in the arms industry.

It would be illegal to grant credit or make a loan or donation to a company where more than 5% of turnover comes from the production of war materiel. The same applies to the acquisition of shares and securities issued by the armaments industry.

Reaction

In a statement on Fridayexternal link, the pacifist group welcomed the fact that its initiative had been declared valid. “Quite clearly voters are pleased to finally have a say on the issue of financing of companies that produce war materiel,” said Maja Haus, co-president of the youth wing of the Green Party, which also supports the initiative.

In 2009, a similar proposal by Switzerland without an Army to ban arms exports was rejected by just over two-thirds of voters.

This latest initiative come at a time of increased debate over arms exports. Earlier this year, Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann said his ministry was considering relaxing rules on weapons exports.

Switzerland delivered war materiel worth CHF446.6 million ($477 million) to 64 countries last year, an increase of 8% on 2016 – despite a 1% drop in commodity exports as a whole. 

SDA-ATS/ilj

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