Switzerland to keep conscription army

For the third time in almost a quarter-century, neutral Switzerland has overwhelmingly voted to maintain its conscription army.

Voters in all 26 cantons rejected the military service referendum Sunday — by a margin of 73 percent opposed to 27 percent in favor — that pacifists and left-wing parties had put forward to do away with a conscription army, Swiss public broadcaster SRF reported.

“It is a yes to the army and to more security,” Swiss President Ueli Maurer, who also is the defense minister, told a news conference on Sunday.

But nearly two-thirds of voters in the country’s Italian-speaking southern canton Ticino approved a right-wing populist measure to ban wearing full-face veils in public areas, in a move that mirrors bans in Belgium and France, but does not specifically mention Muslims.

It is the first such ban to be approved among Switzerland’s 26 cantons, and drew immediate condemnation from Switzerland’s Central Islamic Council and Amnesty International, which called it a victory for fear over reason and respect.