STA, 28 February 2020 - The security apparatus of the state will be a major priority for the incoming centre-right coalition, according to the coalition agreement, which suggests asylum procedures will be tightened, the police force strengthened, and army conscription reintroduced.
The agreement makes "efficient protection of the state border" the no. 1 priority in the chapter on security and defence. Asylum procedures will be "consistently respected" and "mandatory integration of foreigners" instituted.
The priorities are broadly in line with the agenda of the Democrats (SDS), who have long advocated a tougher stance on migrations and called for stronger border security.
The police force gets several mentions, with the coalition pledging to "sort out the situation in the police" and "sort out the status, staffing and operation of the police". Consideration will also be given to the re-establishment of a secondary school for police officers, which was shut down in 1999 and transformed into a police academy.
While other details have not been disclosed, some media have speculated that a thorough overhaul of the police may be in the works. The speculation is borne out by a point from the SDS's election platform from 2018, which states that "during the transition from the former totalitarian regime to a democratic society, the criminal police has not been entirely purged by ideologically blinded officers".
One major priority that has captured the imagination of the public is the idea to gradually phase in conscription military service, which was abolished in 2003 and replaced with a professional force; the idea was floated by the SDS in January and was immediately endorsed by the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), one of the partners in the emerging four-way coalition.
The army has for years had problems enlisting enough soldiers and some see conscription as a good way of increasing the potential pool of professional soldiers.
Critics say introducing conscription will not improve the performance of the military until there is sufficient funding since the conscription system is potentially even costlier than a professional military. Some have also questioned whether conscription makes sense from a military perspective given the advanced technological requirements of modern warfare.
The incoming government also plans to develop cyber-defence capabilities and beef up measures to protect critical infrastructure.
This is the first in a series on the new government’s plans, to be posted in the next few days, with the whole set here