The inquiry is the result of a partnership between the National Defense Institute (IDN), the National Defense Resources Directorate (DGRDN), the Social Sciences Institute of the University of Lisbon (ICS-ULisboa) and the Institute Portuguese in International Relations (IPRI-Nova) and seeks to understand the views of the Portuguese population on National Defense and the Armed Forces.
National service has not been mandatory in Portugal since 2004 and the majority of respondents (59.7 percent) agree with this model. However, a “relevant part” of around 40 percent shows a preference for a mandatory military service.
"Although the preference for a non-mandatory service is greater in all age groups, it is possible to see that as age increases, so does the percentage of the population in favour of mandatory military service", the study highlights.
There are significant variations in the analysis by age groups: the overwhelming majority of young people between 18 and 24 years old are in favour of the optional regime (74.1 percent) and between 25 and 44 years old this number drops to 65.1 percent.
It is from the age of 45 that the percentage of respondents who preferred mandatory military service surpasses the average (42.9 percent), with those over 65 years of age represents 50 percent.
By gender, it is women who often prefer the optional nature of military service and, in terms of education levels, “the percentage of the population in favour of optional military service increases at higher levels of education, exceeding 70 percent among who has higher education”.
When asked about National Defense Day (DDN), a mandatory civic activity that aims to sensitise young people who reach adulthood on the theme of National Defense and the role of the Armed Forces, most are in favour (72 percent), especially the younger ones, up to 24 years old.
As for the financing of the Armed Forces, 67 percent of those questioned consider the State Budget for Defense to be "insufficient", a contrasting figure with the 6.4 percent that classifies them as "excessive".
As for the size of the Armed Forces, considering the level of military personnel (which currently stands at around 23 thousand), 44.9 percent of respondents consider this number “insufficient”, 42.2 percent find it “adequate” and only 12.9 percent considers it “excessive”.
The study adds that "there is a very strong perception that the world will be more insecure in the next decade", and in the case of Portugal, respondents highlight as the most likely threats "a possible global economic crisis" and the "emergence of pandemics and epidemics”.
In this field, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, to which Portugal belongs, are well regarded and considered important for the country's security by a clear majority: 72.9 percent classify participation as “important/very important” in NATO and 83.1 percent the international leadership role of the EU.
The results are presented today at the IDN, in Lisbon, by the scientific coordinators, Pedro Magalhães, principal investigator of the ICS - University of Lisbon, and Raquel Vaz-Pinto, integrated researcher of the IPRI-Nova, in a session with the director of the IDN, Helena Carreiras, in the opening and moderation of the debate, and with the Minister of National Defense, João Gomes Cravinho, in the closing.
40% want mandatory national service to return
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