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Radicals and Christian Democrats reject initiative to cut military spending

The Radical Party and the Christian Democrats voted on Saturday to reject three people's initiatives on cutting military spending and changing the age of retirement.

The two parties met to outline their positions on the referenda due to be held on November 26.

The Radical Party voted unanimously against the people's initiative to slash military spending by 50 per cent.

Earlier, the economics minister and party delegate, Pascal Couchepin, had urged the Radical Party to reject the initiative, saying it would undermine Switzerland's capacity to insure its security.

Couchepin argued that Switzerland should be able to rapidly increase its defence capabilities in a crisis. He said that the world was not stable, and conflicts in the Balkans and Chechnya could have unpredictable repercussions for Switzerland.

Among the Christian Democrat delegates meeting in Lenzerheide, there were three votes in favour of the defence initiative with 150 votes against.

The Swiss electorate will also vote on two initiatives calling for greater flexibility within the national pension scheme including the national age of retirement, as well as for an "à la carte" retirement plan which would begin at age 62.

Only two Radical Party delegates voted in favour of the first of the retirement initiatives, while all delegates voted to reject the second initiative on the issue. The party took heed of the finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, who argued that a yes vote for the two initiatives would jeopardise the state pension scheme.

A general trend towards lowering the age of retirement, Villiger argued, would have to be financed by a tax hike, which would jeopardise economic growth and jobs.

The Christian Democrats also rejected both retirement initiatives. There were 136 votes against and 22 in favour of the initiative for greater flexibility within the national pension scheme.

Nineteen delegates voted to support the "à la carte" retirement plan, while 142 delegates voted to reject it.

Meanwhile the Green Party has voted in favour of all three initiatives.

swissinfo with agencies

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