World’s First Referendum To Decide Fighter Aircraft Purchase

  • Our Bureau
  • 09:11 AM, May 1, 2014
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World’s First Referendum To Decide Fighter Aircraft Purchase
World’s First Referendum To Decide Fighter Aircraft Purchase

The world’s first ever referendum to decide a fighter aircraft purchase will take place on May 18 when the Swiss vote to decide the fate of the Saab Gripen sale.


The referendum s unique as it boils down to votes that will decide a decade of negotiations and evaluations to buy 22 fighter jets from Sweden.


Opposing lawmakers have meanwhile argued that the deal say it could cost three times more than the government claims.


Campaigners who are gearing up for the May 18 plebiscite warned that the price tag could swell to 10 billion Swiss francs (8.2 billion Euros, $11.3 billion),


"As with all fighter plane deals, on top of the actual purchase price of 3.1 billion francs, you have to add operating and maintenance costs, as well as upgrades needed in the future," Green Party lawmaker Daniel Vischer, a member of the campaign coalition, said in a statement.


Meanwhile, SAAB is accused of attempting to influence a Swiss referendum that could determine whether or not the Swiss air force purchases 22 new JAS Gripen jets.


The aircraft-maker is accused of quietly funding campaigns in favor of the deal (worth $3.4 billion) by Swiss lawmakers.


Saab has neither confirmed nor denied the accusations, citing Swiss rules which "also include refraining from comment on campaign financing".


"We don't have any clear rules for referendum campaigns, as a result, foreign companies feel they can shamelessly get involved in national decisions," Swiss Social Democratic MP Evi Allemann told the TT news agency.


Polls show that two thirds of voters oppose the deal that was approved by the government in 2011 and backed by parliament last September.


According to Swiss law, opponents can contest the legislation that allowed the purchase to be funded by tapping an annual 300 million francs from the country's military budget over 10 years.


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