Gains for Party for the Animals in historic regional elections in the Netherlands
The Party for the Animals has become bigger than ever in the provinces in last week's elections. The party also made gains in the Water Authorities, and it is likely to gain another seat in the Senate. And so, the Party for the Animals is maintaining the steady growth it has experienced since its foundation. "This is a fantastic election result," said party leader Esther Ouwehand, "more and more people recognize that we are the only ones who want to solve the problems we face in conjunction. Increasingly more people are looking beyond their own short-term interests and are choosing the bigger picture: nature, animals and a healthy future on a livable Earth."
The Party for the Animals has won in almost half of the provinces and therefore also gains more seats in the Senate: senators will be elected by Provincial Council members later this spring. In the province of North Holland, the party is growing rapidly – in the capital Amsterdam, it even became the third largest party with no less than 12 percent of the votes. In South Holland, Drenthe, Groningen, and Overijssel it has gained seats as well, and according to the provisional results, it will retain all existing seats in other provinces.
Since its foundation more than twenty years ago, the Party for the Animals has managed to convince more voters at every election. In fact, in last week's elections, the Party for the Animals was the only progressive, green party in many areas that grew rather than lost. "The movement that, together with us, believes that the livestock industry should end, that we should dare to choose for nature, wildlife and the animals in those horrible stables, for the climate, for a healthy living environment, for health, also of people who live in the countryside, so that they no longer have to endure the stench of mega barns or breathe in the poisonous fumes of intensive agriculture – that movement is growing like cabbage, as we say in the Netherlands, like organic cabbage!" observes party leader Esther Ouwehand.
The most important theme of the elections was the nitrogen crisis and the inevitable changes it entails for the agricultural sector in the Netherlands. In order to comply with European and national regulations, and to save nature in the Netherlands, nitrogen emissions, among other things, must be drastically reduced. Farmers' protests against government plans to reduce emissions in the agricultural sector made headlines all over the world. In last week's elections, the new Boer Burger Beweging (Farmer Citizen Movement) won a monster victory as a newcomer in politics. The 'farmers' party', which has strong ties to animal feed companies and other major players in the agro-industry, attracted many protest votes and emerged as the largest party in all provinces.
The Party for the Animals understands the concerns among farmers, who for years have been urged by failing government policies to increase scale and invest in new technological solutions that aren’t solutions at all. "The disastrous agricultural policy of recent decades condemned farmers to increasingly large-scale business operations, deluding them into thinking that the sky was the limit." But these nitrogen measures are necessary and must go even further than the current proposals: "If we don't act now, we're going to get everyone in trouble. Especially the farmers."
The Netherlands is the most livestock-dense country in the world. The emission of greenhouse gas and ammonia by this enormous livestock pile takes a toll on nature and contributes to global warming. Due to the extensive use of agricultural poison, bees and butterflies are disappearing and people who live close to farmland and flower fields are getting ill. "Nature is about to keel over, and increasingly more people are realizing that we need nature for clean air, clean water and healthy food production in the future."
That is why the Party for the Animals consistently argues for reducing the number of animals in livestock farming by three-quarters, banning mega barns, and helping farmers to switch to organic arable farming. "Politics must solve the problems that the Netherlands is experiencing. We know that there is no other option left than to fundamentally start protecting nature, and help farmers switch to a healthy form of agriculture. Which is a reality that applies to everyone, whoever gets on the board of the Provincial Council. And you bet that we will continue to fight for this, together with all those people who chose nature, animals and a healthy future for everyone."