Animal politics on the rise in Denmark: young Veganerpartiet is winning ground
Last month’s elections in Denmark clearly marked the rise of a young party for animal rights and nature: the Veganerpartiet or Vegan Party. Running in elections for the very first time after being founded in 2017, the party won enough votes to firmly put itself on the political map. The Veganerpartiet advocates the rights of all animals, the protection of nature and human health. It now has all eyes set on national elections.
For the very first time in Danish history, people could cast their vote on an animal rights party in local and regional elections last month. Participating in all regions and a number of municipalities, the Veganerpartiet won almost 20.000 votes, lacking as little as 40 votes to obtain its very first seat. In several instances, the newcomer in Danish politics even surpassed much more established local parties as well as the Christian Democrats and the liberals, who are already represented on the national level. ‘These are great results for a new party not yet represented in national parliament!’, head of press Lars Corvinius Olesen commented.
The Danish ecocentric animal rights party is part of a growing international movement encompassing over twenty independent sister parties and more than 180 representatives on a local, regional, national and European level worldwide. Like its sister parties, it operates from an ecocentric and world-encompassing perspective and brings activism into politics to end speciesism, defend basic animal rights, protect nature and tackle the climate crisis.
Pork, poultry, and mink
Ever since its establishment, the Veganerpartiet has been relentlessly campaigning – online and out on the streets – to raise awareness of the devastating impact of Denmark’s large meat and fur industries on animal welfare, biodiversity, public health, the environment and climate. Denmark has the largest number of farmed pigs per capita and is one of the biggest exporters of pork in Europe. Until recently, it also was one of the biggest exporters of mink fur. While the fur industry was at least temporarily put to a hold when a dangerous variant of the COVID virus was discovered in minks, the pork and poultry industries continue to grow, with all due consequences.
As the Veganerpartiet tirelessly brings to attention, the downside of all this is only too obvious. While the industry boasts cutting edge technology and high efficiency – party financed by the Danish government – mortality rates, animal suffering and environmental costs are high. As studies find, Danish farmers are responsible for more than 20% of total national CO2 emissions, natural habitats like bogs and wetlands are threatened by ammonia emissions and nitrogen from the farming sector. Meanwhile, the stark odour from the thousands of production plants can make life intolerable for neighbours of the huge animal farming complexes. Reasons for the Veganerpartiet to ‘show people the truth about animal exploitation’ and to aim for phasing out conventional livestock industry in Denmark as fast as possible.
Influence outside politics
In its most recent campaign, the party addresses the immense suffering of chicken in poultry industry, where the majority of laying hens has been bred into productivity to the point of breaking bones while laying their too large eggs. The Veganerpartiet has reported this as animal abuse with the police, and successfully urges other parties to act. By cooperating with other politicians, the party has even managed to put this issue on the agenda of Danish parliament – a clear sign of its growing influence, even without being represented in parliament itself.
‘We do not merely believe in a political future in which animals have a voice – we are actively creating that future’, the party states. This autumn the youth department of the Veganerpartiet already won enough votes to ‘get into parliament’ in the School Elections simulating national elections each year, and hopes are high the party can achieve the same in the actual national elections in 2023.