Service Citoyen: Against the expansion of forced service

Today, the Service Citoyen association will submit its popular initiative “Für eine engagierte Schweiz” to the Federal Chancellery with an expected 102,134 signatures. Should a referendum be held, the GSoA will campaign vehemently against the extension of forced military service.

The Service Citoyen initiative wants all citizens to be required to perform forced service in the future. The idea outlined by the initiators sounds tempting: everyone serves in or outside the army, according to their strengths and preferences. However, the reality would be different.

The initiative stipulates that the continued existence of the army and civil defense must be ensured. “The army could continue to disregard the wishes of conscripts on the basis of the existing regulations. There can be no question of free choice,” says GSoA Secretary Jonas Heeb. In addition, the initiative harbors a high risk of wage dumping in those areas where service personnel in the low-wage segment represent an even cheaper option for employers than trained workers on the labor market. The initiative suggests that there is too little militia commitment in Switzerland. Yet millions of hours of unpaid work are performed in Switzerland every year. Whether this commitment would be recognized by the initiative is highly doubtful.

Women in particular perform unpaid care work worth around CHF 250 billion every year. “Extending compulsory service to women will not achieve greater equality – on the contrary. Women would merely be burdened with the additional disadvantages of compulsory service,” says GSoA Secretary Anja Gada. “Equality does not mean that women will also be forced into the military, but that men will no longer have to do so.” If the initiative is passed, the GSoA will oppose it by all means in a referendum.

In a resolution, the GSoA sets out further points on why it rejects the initiative.