The Slovenia Times

Neighbouring Austria Surprisingly Voted to Keep Military Conscription


The result is a blow to Chancellor Werner Faymann's Social Democrats, who had argued a smaller, professional force would be more suited to modern military reality, more cost-efficient and fairer to young people.

"I'm happier having people of all psychological types in the army, not just people who are really into it," said Andreas Gorbach, a 53-year-old advertising consultant who voted for the draft despite saying he did not enjoy his own time in the army.

Much of Western Europe has scrapped compulsory military service in the last two decades. Germany phased it out in 2011, following France, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands and others who have switched to voluntary forces. Slovenia scrapped conscription in 2003.

Many experts had argued that Austria, where six months in the military or nine months of community service are still compulsory for all 18-year-old men, should follow suit.

"What Austria requires is a professional army that is perhaps smaller but more capable," said Henrik Heidenkamp, research fellow in defense, industries and society at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

"You need to spend a lot of resources, not only financial resources but also human resources, in order to train these people ... and in the end basically they drop out without really having deployed these skills that they were trained for."

The Austrian armed services have a budget of about 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion), or 0.6 percent of GDP.

Many voters were swayed by warnings from emergency services organizations such as the Red Cross, who had said they would not be able to cope without the 14,000 young men who opt for community service each year.


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