21 Jan 2013

Austrians vote to keep conscription

9:21 pm on 21 January 2013

Austrians have voted to keep military conscription, bucking a trend towards replacing conscripts with professional armies in Western Europe.

It is a blow to the Social Democrat government which had argued that a smaller, professional force would be more suited to modern military reality.

Many European Union countries have got rid of the draft but Austria appears to have defied that trend, the BBC reports.

Most Austrian men serve six months in the army when they are 18 or carry out nine months of civilian service.

The issue has divided Austria's coalition government. The Social Democrats argue that a professional army would be more efficient and effective, but the Conservative People's Party warned of a shortage of recruits and more costs.

The 45,000-strong Austrian armed force is active in international peacekeeping.