Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

Swiss turn their backs on military service

Up to 15% of summertime civilian service is on environmental projects Keystone

Military service is losing its appeal in Switzerland. The authorities said that in the third quarter of the year, the number of applications to do civilian service instead rose by 20 per cent in the third quarter over the same period last year.

The economics ministry said there was also a record number of applications from recruits who started military service before changing their minds.

From July to September of this year, 346 people requested to join the civilian service, a 20 per cent hike compared to the same period in 1999. Out of those applicants, 261 were accepted.

The ministry said the number of requests from army recruits was two times higher than in 1999 and 1998.

Civilian service officials have said they are unable to explain the phenomenon.

The authorities responsible for civilian service said they were unable to offer an explanation as to its popularity.

So far, a total of 5,600 people have served in the Swiss civilian service, including those who benefited from exemptions before the civilian service law came into effect in 1996.

The ministry added that about 15 per cent of days of civilian service carried out in the summer months were in environmental protection. Their tasks include preparing plant inventories or assessing the populations sizes of birds.

swissinfo with agencies

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR