Swiss senate says yes to Sweden’s Gripen jets

Swiss senate says yes to Sweden's Gripen jets
The Swiss senate voted on Wednesday to release 3.13 billion Swiss francs ($3.4 billion) to buy 22 Swedish fighter jets, following suit after the lower house approved the plan.

With 27 votes for and 17 against, the upper-house Council of States agreed to release funds to buy 22 of Saab’s Gripen JAS-39 combat jets, breathing new life into the controversial deal after it fell one vote shy of senate funding approval in March.

The deal will now likely be put to a popular vote as part of Switzerland’s direct democratic system.

Left-wing politicians have promised a referendum, though Wednesday’s vote means a popular ballot would concern only funding for the planes, and not the deal itself.

The deal has run into problems in Switzerland over concerns about the spending cuts it will entail in other areas.

Nearly two-thirds of those polled for a survey published Sunday said they were opposed to the Gripen purchase, and 60 percent said they did not want the Swiss government to buy any new fighter jets at all.

The deal is part of a larger order for the planes to be shared with Sweden in a bid to cut production costs.

AFP/The Local/og

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