Steady growth of political movement for animal rights and our planet

18 November 2020

The international political movement for animal rights, nature and the environment continues to grow. Ever more representatives get elected who explicitly put ‘the planet and all its inhabitants’ on the political agenda - most recently in Portugal and Australia. ‘A positive change is in the air’, thus Esther Ouwehand, leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals - the first such party ever to be elected into national parliament worldwide. ‘More and more people are becoming aware that we need to bring an ecocentric perspective into politics in order to create a sustainable system that benefits all, now and for future generations.’

Bruce Poon (president) and Dr. Tamasin Ramsay (policy advisor) of the Australian Animal Justice Party with Esther Ouwehand, now party leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals (middle).

The most recent sign of the political ascent of the animal rights movement, was the election of two more representatives of the Australian Animal Justice Party in local government last month. With the new seats in two local councils and the existing three seats in the regional parliaments of Victoria and New South Wales, this party firmly puts animal welfare and a more sustainable food system on the political agenda. The party also steadily campaigns for ending the live export of animals and factory farming, stopping the killing of protected native wildlife such as kangaroos and addressing the cruelty of greyhound and horse racing and puppy farming.

“With three Members of Parliament and two Councillors elected in just five years the Party is rapidly becoming a political powerhouse for animals (...), holding the government to account and introducing bills and motions to end animal cruelty,” according to a recent statement of the Animal Justice Party.

Supporters of the Portuguese party PAN for ‘People, Animals and Nature’.

A couple of days before the Australian win, the Portuguese ‘Party for People, Animals and Nature’ PAN - which has been represented in national parliament and in over thirty local councils for some years now, won its first representative to the regional parliament of the Azores region, “giving wings to a new political vision for the archipelago”, according to the party’s online announcement. Much like the Dutch Party for the Animals and its other sister parties, PAN aims to be “the voice and the political arm of civil movements and NGOs that search for an alternative and renewed society and promote the awareness towards solidarity for humanitarian, animal and ecological causes.”

These electoral gains are just two of the most recent examples of the steady rise of the animal rights movement in politics, which started with the election of the Dutch Party for the Animals into national parliament in 2006. Over twenty sister parties have been established across the globe ever since - most recently in Greece and Moldova - with over 150 representatives being elected in six different countries. In many other countries, sister parties are in formation. Their common denominator: bringing animal rights and environmental activism into politics to bring about systemic change.