Swiss Reject Bid to Scrap Armed Forces

Article excerpt

Swiss citizens yesterday rejected a proposal to scrap the country's armed forces, cherished by many as vital protection for the small, long-neutral Alpine country in the heart of Europe.

The proposal was put forward by the 'Switzerland Without an Army' coalition under a Swiss law that allows anyone to force a referendum with the collection of 100,000 signatures from voters. 'The initiative... aims to abolish an outdated institution that is a man's world where blind obedience and hatred of women still rule,' the campaigners said.

With votes in from more than half the Swiss cantons (states) by midafternoon, the proposal had been formally rejected, though the majority was not yet known. The plan would have added the phrase 'Switzerland has no army' to the federal constitution, going on to say that the country's national security policy is built around reducing the injustices that lead to conflicts, both within the country and abroad.

Switzerland declared itself neutral in 1515 and the last battle against a foreign power was when Napoleon invaded in 1798. The country remained neutral throughout both World Wars and is not a member of the United Nations or Nato. …