Bern, November 21: Direct democracy will be witnessed in Switzerland again on Sunday as the Alpine nation would go to polls to decide whether cows should be horned or not. The referendum was a result of an 8-year-long campaign by farmer Armin Capaul, demanding the government to ban the dehorning of bovines.
Capaul, 66, has received support from animal rights' groups, who argue that the horn is part of an animal's "dignity". According to Capaul -- who has been a farmer since childhood -- cows use horns for communication and body temperature regulation, whereas, dehorning turns them "sad". Cows Help Police Arrest a Criminal by Chasing and Cornering Her in a Field in Florida (Watch Video)
Those against a ban on dehorning cows argue that the bovines could cause hurt to other animals, as well as human beings, if they are left with horns. They also stress that cows with horns require more space for resort to overgrazing.
The referendum is primarily being conducted to mitigate the second concern. If the Swiss voters cast their mandate in favour of Capual's proposal, the government would have to grant an annual subsidy of 190 Swiss franc ($191.65) per horned animal.
The Swiss government, which has opposed Capaul's proposal and appealed the referendum participants to vote against it, said the overall subsidies would cost the exchequer nearly 30 million Swiss francs out of the total budget of 3 billion.
Nearly 75 per cent of total Swiss cows are dehorned across the nation, whereas, 20-25 per cent are allowed to grow horns naturally. The bovine rearers who allow their animal to remain horned claim to sustain additional expenditure as compared to their counterparts with dehorned bovines.
An opinion poll conducted GFS Bern found that nearly 49 per cent of referendum participants are likely to vote in favour of Capaul's proposal, whereas, 46 per cent are expected to vote against the roll-out of subsidies.