/ 26 July 2010

Animals get a voice in Swiss politics

Swiss animal lovers have founded a political party to represent the interests of their four-legged friends, Swiss news agency ATS reported on Sunday.

The Animal Party Switzerland was established on Saturday with an economist, a lawyer and the head of the Swiss vegetarian union as founding members, said the agency, quoting Thomas Maerki, who heads the new party.

The party — which plans to contest elections next year — has set up a page on Facebook with the slogan “because animals need a voice,” and a pledge to “represent the interests of animals in politics and the economy.”

Switzerland boasts strict laws protecting animals. It is illegal to flush goldfish alive down a toilet, and owners of some animals such as budgies and hamsters must guarantee that the animals have social companions.

Even sheep and goats must have at least a “visual contact with their fellows”.

Earlier this year, enough signatures were collected to force a referendum on whether abused animals should be assigned lawyers. In the end, the initiative failed to muster a majority of votes. — AFP