Saturday, 23 September 2023 11:05 GMT

Fighter Jet Challenge Called Off To Avoid 'Democratic Farce'

(MENAFN- Swissinfo) Switzerland has signed off an order for 36 F-35A fighter jets. © Keystone / Urs Flueeler

A people's initiative challenging the purchase of F-35A fighter jets has been withdrawn after the Swiss government signed off the deal with the United States.

This content was published on September 20, 2022 - 09:25 September 20, 2022 - 09:25

Supporters of the 'Stop F-35A' initiative said a nationwide vote would be meaningless as it could not change the course of the deal.

“We are withdrawing the initiative with a heavy heart. We do not want to offer a pseudo vote where voters can't have a real say in the actual purchase decision,” Social Democrat politician Priska Seiler Graf told Swiss public broadcaster SRF.

The Stop F-35A committee also expressed anger that the government had effectively vetoed the vote by signing a final purchase contract with the US on Monday.

Ministers had initially promised to delay the deal until the vote could be held but changed their minds when Russia invaded UkraineExternal link , saying the war made it imperative to upgrade Switzerland's air defences.

This decision has reduced Switzerland's tradition of direct democracy to a“democratic farce”, said the initiative's backers.

In 2020, Swiss voters had already approved the government's decision to spend CHF6 billion ($6.2 billion) on replacing its fighter jet fleet.

But the follow-up Stop F-35 initiative challenged the type of aircraft chosen and claimed that the real cost of the deal could spiral out of control. The initiative had gathered enough supportExternal link to force another nationwide vote.

The procurement of 36 F-35A fighter jets from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin has been plagued by allegations of ministerial incompetenceExternal link and the witholding of information to the public.

But the federal audit office and parliamentary committees have concluded that while the procurement procedure was flawed, it did not break any lawsExternal link .



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