Government System

Switzerland is one of the most democratic countries in the world. Switzerland is among the top 10 most democratic countries in the list of “Economist” authoritative magazine “Democratic Index – 2016” 16. Nominal GDP per capita in 2017 was $ 80,837, which is the second in the world after Luxembourg17. Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of Transparency International Anti-Corruption Authority, which is is a composite index based on various surveys conducted among businessmen and experts measuring the level of perceived corruption in the public sector in one or another country, in 2016 has given Switzerland’s the rating of 86, and it ranks fifth among 176 countries.

Switzerland’s success is not due to its natural resources, which are less significant in comparison with other  countries,  but  political  institutions  that provide citizens’  opportunities  to  participate in political decision-making, as well as allowing citizens to actively participate in the country’s governance.Citizens have an important word in ratifying international treaties. According to the country’s constitution, important treaties are put on a referen- dum so that citizens can say their word in accepting the treaty. Referendums are mandatory if the agreement implies Switzerland’s accession to the collective security or transnational organization. These treaties are not only discussed in parliament, but also among citizens. In this way, civil society engages in the process of forming a country’s foreign policy.18

It is noteworthy that taxes  in  that  country  do not constitute a high percentage. Citizens are charged for taxes on federal government level, in cantons and community budgets. In 2016, taxes made up 27.8% of GDP.19 Most taxes are direct and low taxes. In Switzerland, the taxes are low, but most of the budget is spent on education20. For comparison, taxes in Armenia in 2016 made up 23.1% of GDP21։

Good governance was established in Switzer- land when the rulers were brought to justice and accountability was provided to citizens, when citizens were given the opportunity to participate   in decision-making and to remove elected officials who abuse their mandate22:

The Factor of Neutrality

The Swiss identity is based on federalism, direct democracy and military neutrality. They have traditionally considered the country’s self- defense to be the only effective way to ensure security.23

An interesting manifestation of self-defense was the Swiss mobilization during the Second World War. In a number of ways, the Second World War seriously challenged  the  country’s  security. In 1940-41, in order to protect themselves from possible attacks of Germany and Italy, the Swiss united at an unprecedented level around General Henry Gissan and formed a self-defense system in the Alps to punish the enemy in case of a possible attack. Given the above-mentioned fact, Germany and Italy avoided attacking Switzerland, as a result of which the country escaped from occupation, something other neutral countries were unable to do, such as Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands.24

Membership in international  organizations also plays an important role in the Swiss self- defense. While the Swiss generally reject membership in supranational or collective security organizations, they  encourage  the  membership  of international organizations and contribute

additional safeguard for the country’s security25. Switzerland puts great resources for international cooperation, conflict resolution and peace. It’s no coincidence that the headquarters of a number of international organizations are here. At  present, the headquarters of 25 international organizations are in Switzerland, besides 250 international non-governmental organizations operating in the United Nations advisory organizations are also in Switzerland.26

The Swiss government system is also flexible and easily adapted to the challenges facing the country. In time, the nature of security issues  facing the country has also changed. For example, immigration, organized crime, and terrorism have become security issues for Switzerland, but power structures can not solve these problems. That’s why Switzerland has deepened its cooperation with international structures (EU, NATO, UN), which play a major role in addressing the aforementioned challenges.27

Management of the Army

Switzerland has a well-organized and controlled armed force that must protect the country from foreign invasion. The staff of the Swiss Army as greatly to those organizations because it is an  of 2017 was 160,000  soldiers  28. Military service is universal and mandatory for all males29. The military service is voluntary for women, and currently more than 1,000 women are involved in military service as volunteers, more than half of them being trained to become officers. The share of women in the armed forces is about 0.6%. For comparison, let’s note that in Germany, 12%, and in Sweden 18%.30

In 2017, the country’s authorities have announ- ced they want to introduce a Norwegian model of military recruitment to attract women. Swiss cantons also envisage making mandatory participation in the awareness of the army by 2020 for women as well, which will allow to engage more women in the army.31

Men unfit for military service are required to pay 3% extra income tax or carry out service in civilian institutions such as firefighters or hospitals. Conscripts can serve part-time for 260 days, for which they participate in various exercises and training sessions. Or to serve at once 300 days.32

The main purpose of the Swiss Army training is to teach citizens practical military skills, and non- military knowledge is secondary. All conscripts  get acquainted with the security policy and the basic provisions of the Law on the Armed Conflict.

According to the Law on Military Service, the purpose of military education is to enable all members of the armed forces to carry out their missions at times of war and in other crisis situations even at the risk of life.33

The army is widely used in public life as a form of organization of society, is based on the ideology of the republic where the citizen, who has certain abilities, must assume social responsibilities. According to Andreas Klei, the principle of the civilian army is taken from the revolutionary armies of France and the United States. It was enshrined  in the Constitution of the Republic of Helvetia, as well as in the Rules of Military Involvement (1804- 1817). The army management system also allows the citizens to engage in the political life at the local level.34

The constitution states that “armed forces should be fundamentally organized as a militia.” According to the Constitution, there should not be a permanent or professional army. Consequently, the Swiss Army is a non-permanent army, which, in its nature, is similar to the US National Guard. That’s why the organizational  form  of  the  army is temporary and repetitive exercises, as well as short-term training. The army, in general, operates on request.35

The concept of nation-army in Switzerland is generally based on several important factors. The active participation of citizens, compulsory service, military neutrality in the development of democracy, local, national and international politics constitute important basis of that concept.

Democracy is an important factor for the formation of legitimate government. Legitimacy helps the decisions made by the government to be acceptable to the public. If any authorities abuse the public’s trust, citizens will have the opportunity to deprive such figures from their posts by means of elections. Legitimacy is not the only basis for the authorities’ decisions. To form a common consensus, the Swiss also apply a direct democracy tool, such as a referendum. Citizens are actively involved in the development of local, national and international policies, which contributes to the formation of a common consensus.

Switzerland is one of the few countries in Europe where the service is mandatory.  The idea  of compulsory service is strongly rooted in that country. Despite the fact that Switzerland has not had a war for more than 200 years, in any case the mandatory service is part of the domestic political life. Even during the 2013 referendum, which put under question issue of lifting the mandatory service, 73% of the Swiss said “no”, thereby maintaining the principle of compulsory service.36

Switzerland has been actively involved in inter- national structures to maintain its neutrality and enhance security. Participation in international organizations also helps the country to address security challenges that its security system can not solve. Among such issues are immigration, orga- nized crime and terrorism, the solution of which is organized by Switzerland in close cooperation with international organizations.

Principles of Army Organization: Useful Parallels

In Armenia for a long time there has been circulated the idea that a professional army to be created shortly is not only able to solve the problems in the armed forces, but also become a more reliable safeguard for the security of the country and the people. In response to such suggestions, the authorities typically argue that the professional army is expensive and it takes years of effort to prepare for it. The experience of the Swiss Army shows that there is a way of reconciling these two mutually exclusive positions. Moreover, the Swiss model can be very useful in the case of Armenia and especially in the case of Artsakh, taking into account the growing problems of army replenishment under the conditions of depopulation.

The issue is that all men aged 18 to 50 are considered conscripts  in  Switzerland.  The  state  is able to make its 22,000  troops  literally  in  a  few  hours  into  650,000,  and  two  days  later,  at

1.7 million. At the same time, it does not mean “partisan” replenishment, as the army is growing at the expense of well-trained and disciplined warriors who are already armed. At the age of 18, the boys are called to the Rekrutenschule – Ecole de Recrue, where a young soldier is trained for 18-21 weeks (up to 25 weeks in elite military units) and receives a military degree. After that, the state provides the new guardian of the homeland with an inviolable food supply, three military uniforms, for all seasons of the year, a rifle, an armor and a helmet. The Swiss keep them at home and take them back during military exercises.

The Swiss are serving all their life. Under the age of 31, they participate eight times in exercises, each of which lasts for 3 weeks. From 32 to 42 years old, they take part three times, each exercise takes two weeks. Before the demobilization, during the last eight years, they only participate in a military exercise once, for two weeks. And the exercises  are not merely formality: they require great effort, and are a serious test for the military, as they are close to fighting conditions. Up to the age of 32,  the soldier is considered «auszug», under the age of 42 – «landver», and until the age of 50 “landsturm”. At the age of 51, they officially demobilized him, retrieve the gun, and an order to remain ready for conscription in case of “a great deal of trouble” or a general draft.

There is an alternative service for pacifists and others. They are mainly dealing with sanitary and hygienic conditions in military units and settlements, and “real” military men are exempt from this.

Another, peculiarity, understandable for us. The mountainous areas in Switzerland have been turned into natural defenses. With the help of locals and mostly reservists in these areas rescuers, shelters, ammunition and food stocks, as well as fire brigades have been built. In other words, men are always ready to defend the homeland at the time of war or

“big trouble”, they have their weapons, uniforms, and food and they know the place of their necessary supplies and their firing positions.

Analyzing the dynamics of the Armenian- Azerbaijani armed conflict, as well as the tactics of the enemy’s subversive acts, willy-nilly you come  to the conclusion that the Swiss model is right for us. However, we should take into consideration the challenges of the widespread arms ownership under the conditions of the current criminal-oligarchic system and the low level of law-abidance. In the case of successful process in Armenia’s current reform process, the Swiss model would become more realistic for Armenia.


The real heroes of the April 4, 2016 war were young people aged 18-19, front-line soldiers. They were the ones who saved their land from irreversible losses at the cost of their lives or health. They did not have a patriotic training course, none of them was explained the irreplaceability of the homeland, nobody ordered or forced them to love their homeland. They did it when the concept of “nation- army” did not exist yet and the military-patriotic propaganda campaign had not begun.

The driving force of the “velvet revolution” of 2018 or the “elite force” of today were the peers of the four-day war heroes. They were the result of their civilian maturity, high level of civic and political self- consciousness, who saved the country from the claws of reaction and laid the foundation for our civilized future. They have already managed to live in the conditions of “nation-army” concept and military- patriotic aggressive and total propaganda. But they were the first and main opponents of that concept. The student movement that disputed the concept and the wise and conscious, principled and courageous behavior of its leaders once again reaffirmed that the public is much more patriotic than the government that promotes patriotism, and moreover, their ideas of patriotism are polarly different.

All this indicates that in reality there is no need for a specific concept. The special concept  and everyday loud announcements about patriotism would not have been necessary if the situation was good in the country, which meant that such measures were called to conceal the real state of affairs. It would be much more sensible for the authorities    to immediately and radically start to improve the situation. But they did not have the will and desire to do so. Therefore, they had to undergo a wave of public uprising.

The greatest lesson of what is happening,  in our opinion, is that such concepts should not have an inner political component,  moreover,  the  goal of preserving or reproducing power. Such concepts should either be based on interests of the whole community or should not be at all. The army, which is formed and organized under the principles of social justice, is invincible.

And most importantly, the experience of the civilized world  shows that, in a figurative way,  it  is impossible to build “communism” in a separate sphere, and in a sphere responsible for the security of the country and society.

In stable democracies, including the countries we studied within the framework of this program, security is provided in a multi-layered military, political, legal, economic and educational-cultural context. The role of such political institutions, which ensure participation of citizens in the political decision-making process, is also invaluable, and enables citizens to actively participate in the country’s governance.





18 Parliamentary oversight of the security sector: http://archive.


20 model-democracy/


22 model-democracy/
25 From Armed Neutrality to External Dependence: Swiss Security in the 21st Century: j.1662-6370.2011.02003.x/full

23 From Armed Neutrality to External Dependence: Swiss Security in the 21st Century: j.1662-6370.2011.02003.x/full

24 From Armed Neutrality to External Dependence: Swiss Security in the 21st Century: j.1662-6370.2011.02003.x/full

26 international-organizations/international-organizations- switzerland.html

27 From Armed Neutrality to External Dependence: Swiss Security in the 21st Century: j.1662-6370.2011.02003.x/full


29 model-democracy/

30 military-service/43822928

31 mandatory-info-session-will-attract-women-/43204190

32 Sabine Mannitz / Rabea Haß, The Swiss Concept of Soldiering in Practice The Swiss Case hsfk_downloads/Switzerland_III_01.pdf

33 Sabine Mannitz / Rabea Haß, The Swiss Concept of Soldiering in Practice The Swiss Case hsfk_downloads/Switzerland_III_01.pdf



36 conscription/ swiss-voters-reject-bid-to-scrap-military- conscription- idUSL5N0HI0MR20130922


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