Campaign for Switzerland to give up its army
Some Swiss feel that the country’s military strategy is no longer relevant. In 1982 the Group for a Switzerland without an Army was formed and in 1989 a referendum on the issue revealed that more than a third of the Swiss population is in favour of dissolution. Although the initiative was rejected, the result of the referendum influenced later reforms of Switzerland’s armed forces and in 1995, the number of troops was reduced to 400,000.
In 2001 a ballot to dissolve the army received 21.9% support and in 2004 the forces were again cut down to 220,000 men, including reserves. The current defence budget has been reduced to around 4.3bn Swiss francs ($4.5bn; £2.9bn) a year and in August 2010 parliament decided not to buy new air force fighter jets for several years.
An army cannot deal with terrorism or social problems and disorder
Zurich University history student and anti-conscription campaigner Adrian Feller says his spell in the army convinced him it was a thing of the past, “I just learned to shoot and this was more or less all I learned . . . An army just gives some kind of false security. You feel safe, but I saw what the army can do. They can’t do anything against terrorism. They can’t do anything against the social problems and disorder. So why should we lose every year about 5 billion Swiss francs for something that didn’t help us solve the problems we have?”
Activist Christophe Barbey from the Group for a Switzerland without an Army sees no reason for keeping an army:
“There’s no more Cold War, we’re totally surrounded by the European Union, which is, militarily speaking, totally friendly. So we have no more enemies. The army has no reason for being.”