Swiss voters look set to reject a proposal to subsidize farmers who let the horns on their cows and goats grow rather than removing them, Swiss broadcaster SRF said yesterday. The initiative to preserve "the dignity of livestock" was led by farmer Armin Capaul, who has sparked a national debate on animal rights following a campaign which began nine years ago after he "listened" to his herd. Preliminary results after the polls closed showed 53 percent against with 47 percent in favor, SRF reported.
Three-quarters of Swiss cows, a national symbol and tourist attraction, are dehorned or genetically hornless. Calves are dehorned with a red-hot iron which causes smoke and a burning odor in a procedure critics say causes pain.
The government had opposed the motion, which would have enshrined subsidies into the constitution, but agricultural workers were split, with even the Swiss farmers' union refraining from giving a recommendation to its 52,000 members.
The other referendum issues involve ensuring Switzerland's constitution precedence over international treaties, and whether to allow insurance providers to secretly monitor people suspected of insurance fraud. Early projections suggest Swiss voters rejected a proposal to give the country's laws clear priority over international law, a move that opponents claim would damage the neutral country's global standing. Some 67 percent of voters in a national referendum voted against the "Swiss law, not foreign judges" measure, according to SRF.
The right-wing People's Party (SVP) was behind the Self-Determination Initiative that seeks to ensure that the constitution trumps existing and future international treaties signed by Switzerland. The SVP charges that politicians have failed to implement previous constitutional referendums on curbing migration and expelling criminal migrants by hiding behind Switzerland's pacts with the EU and the European Convention on Human Rights.