GENEVA - Swiss socialists want to hold a referendum on the government's 3.1 billion franc (2.5 billion euro) purchase of a new fighter jet fleet if the deal affects spending elsewhere, it was reported Dec. 3.
The Federal Council revealed on Nov. 30 its proposal to buy 22 Swedish-made Gripen planes to replace its aging F5 fighters.
Socialists fear the deal will mean a rise in military spending that could translate into budget restrictions in other departments, notably education, transport and agriculture.
Meeting in Lucerne on Dec. 3, party members unanimously passed are solution on the matter after a document outlining the group's position was approved in October, ATS news agency reported.
The party rejects the prospect of a spending rise all the more because there was no public vote on the plane deal, described as a "scandal" by National Council (parliament) member Eric Voruz.
It will launch a referendum if parliament seeks a legal base to justify budgetary restrictions or requests a rise in military spending to cover the acquisition.
If such a referendum does not halt the deal the, socialists will call for a moratorium on the purchase until 2025.
The Gripen deal will be put to parliament as part of the government's 2012 arms program. Parliamentary decisions can be put to a public vote in Switzerland if a sufficient number of votes are collected.