What does the mantra do

Conscription: Pros and Cons

On January 20th the Austrians were asked about conscription. According to all the polls, those in favor of conscription were again in the lead. The race remains exciting, because the outcome also depends on the turnout.

The SPÖ is in favor of a professional army and the ÖVP is in favor of compulsory military service - but the campaign work has been taken over by two personal committees: the platform “Einsatz für Österreich” under the former head of the industrial association Veit Sorger promotes compulsory military service, the personal committee “Our Army” under the former SPÖ finance minister and vice chancellor Hannes Androsch promotes the professional army.

The arguments of the conscription advocates:

  • A professional army harbors the danger that, as a separate caste, it becomes a state within a state and becomes independent.
  • With compulsory military service, citizens take on responsibility towards society and their homeland.
  • The current system secures the armed forces personnel from all professional groups who contribute their experience.
  • Without conscription, there may be too few personnel for assistance, disaster and foreign missions.
  • A professional army is too expensive and too big in everyday life, but too small when deployed.
  • A paid social service, which is to be introduced at the same time as the professional army, undermines voluntary work. Unpaid volunteers then work with paid volunteers.

The arguments of the professional army advocates:

  • 21 out of 27 EU countries already have a professional army. After the end of the Cold War, mass armies are no longer necessary.
  • Conscription takes away young men for at least half a year from their careers and reduces their lifetime income by five percent. Without conscription, Austria's economic output would be 480 million euros greater per year.
  • Professional soldiers volunteer and are much more motivated, military service often just kills time.
  • Today's complex weapon systems need professionals. Military servants, on the other hand, disarm before they are really trained.
  • As early as 2015, Austria had too few civil servants and military personnel due to falling birth rates. The current system cannot be sustained either way.
  • The armed forces need professionals - after all, there is also a professional police force and no vigilante group.

Exciting decision

Those directly affected by compulsory military service, young men between 18 and 25 years of age, are in favor of a professional army with a two-thirds majority. The general population is currently tending towards conscription again.

debate: Armed Forces Referendum: Is a Political Battle Looming?

In any case, it will remain exciting until the referendum on January 20th. In October 2010, only 39 percent of the population were in favor of the abolition of conscription. This value rose continuously to 62 percent by May 2012. The last time it fell back to 38 percent in October 2012 - the pollsters believe that fear for community service was the decisive factor. This is how times change: When the Kreisky government introduced civil service on January 1, 1975 with this law, those who advocated compulsory military service were appalled. Today, on the other hand, community service serves as a key argument in favor of maintaining conscription.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, almost 6.4 million people in Austria are entitled to vote in the referendum on compulsory military service. In Burgenland there are exactly 232,310 people.

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