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Swiss vote on scrapping compulsory military service

Published on Sep 22, 2013 3:25 PM

GENEVA (AFP) - Swiss voters headed to the ballot box on Sunday for a referendum on axing the draft, with the Alpine country expected to buck a European trend against conscription given the army's role in the national image.

Opinion polls ahead of the plebiscite showed around two-thirds of voters likely to reject the proposal to scrap conscription spearheaded by pacifists and backed by left-wing parties.

Switzerland's political right, parliament and cross-party government all oppose the plan, and not simply due to cliches about the army being as Swiss as its pocket knives.

Countries across Europe have ditched the draft in the two decades since the end of the Cold War, and pro-change campaigners say Switzerland should follow their lead.

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