Tight security keeps Swiss happy

Most Swiss still want compulsory service of some kind for men, preferably in the army Keystone

The Swiss feel safe at home and are optimistic about the future of their country, but don’t seem likely to give up their militia army anytime soon, according to an annual report published by Zurich’s Federal Institute of Technology.

This content was published on May 31, 2013 minutes and agencies

Nine out of ten people interviewed for a survey carried out by the school’s military academy and Center for Security Studies said they felt in secure in Switzerland, a figure that remained unchanged over the previous year’s.

The number of those who were optimistic about the country’s future rose however, with 82 per cent of respondents claiming a positive outlook, including seven per cent who were “very optimistic”.

Nearly one in two however said that they believed the international political climate could worsen in the short term.

According to the report’s authors, the optimism felt by the population runs parallel to the confidence people have in public institutions.

With a rating of 7.6 out of ten possible points, the police are the most respected institution, followed by the courts (7.1) and the cabinet (6.7). Political parties have clawed back some respect too from the previous year, even if confidence levels remain low at 5.3 points, the same as the media.

The majority of the 1,200 people polled in February said that Switzerland should remain as autonomous and neutral as possible. Most favour bilateral relations with the European Union, while closer political ties or joining the European Union get short shrift.

Only slightly more than one third of those questioned would consider a closer relationship, while just 17 per cent would be in favour of EU membership, confirming data from previous surveys.

Prized neutrality

More than 90 per cent also said they supported the country’s neutrality, while a similar number said it was important for Switzerland’s role as an international mediator. Over eight out of ten people reckoned being neutral was part of the Swiss identity, while two thirds considered it a form of protection during international conflicts.

The survey also focused on security and the armed forces. The number of Swiss in favour of a professional army fell six per cent to 37 per cent, while those who prefer to keep a militia-based organisation rose four points to 56 per cent.

A few months ahead of voting on compulsory military service for men, around 70 per cent of those polled agreed that some form of service should be maintained, be it in the army or in civilian and social services.

Seven out of ten Swiss also consider the armed forces necessary, while 62 per cent want them to be strong. The confidence rating for the army was 6.2 points, while it was given 6.1 for the tasks it carries out.

The population is however split over army funding, with only a slight majority considering that military spending was justified or insufficient.

Internal security measures such as fighting hooliganism, keeping a close eye on foreign residents and using the army to maintain law and order were viewed favourably, while extra security checks at building entrances and heightened surveillances of phones and computers were less popular.

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