Swiss parliament votes to increase military spending
Switzerland’s House of Representatives has voted to increase the country’s military spending from 5,6 to 7 billion Swiss francs. The government has pledged to increase the country’s military budget to at least 1 percent of GDP by 2030.
Switzerland’s defence spending plummeted in recent decades
After the Cold War, Switzerland’s defence spending dropped from 1,34 percent of GDP in 1990 to just 0,67 percent in 2019. By comparison, NATO members such as neighbouring Germany and Italy are encouraged to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defence.
Support for increased defence and security spending has been growing since February 2022, when Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine began. Defence ministers across Europe and North America in particular have been discussing increasing their own spending.
The Swiss House of Representatives pushed to increase spending to support the country’s armed forces, despite some opposition from several left-wing political parties. Though the house voted in favour of the new budget, there are still several legislative processes that could impede its implementation.
Ukraine war reignites Switzerland’s military debate
Andreas Wenger, Director of the Centre for Security Studies at the federal technology institute at ETH Zurich, recently explained that the Ukraine war has changed how the country’s defence policy is perceived. “Right now, the Federal Council, administration, parliament and political parties need to concentrate their efforts on preparing an in-depth analysis of how the war will affect the global and European environment for Switzerland over the medium term,” Wenger said.
He added that military alliances with the EU could be possible after the recent conflict in Eastern Europe. Though Switzerland has historically remained militarily neutral, the country may enter into conversations with neighbouring countries and alliances as part of the new focus on defence.