The Party for the Animals makes a powerful statement with outfit

28 September 2023

On Tuesday 19 September it was Prinsjesdag (Prince’s Day) in the Netherlands: an annual ceremonial day when the government presents its budget, and the king presents the government’s future plans. There is always a lot of press present, and the MPs of the Party for the Animals use that opportunity to share an important message via their clothing. The message this year: stop fighting a losing battle and fully commit to tackling major polluters to protect the future of humans and animals.

This year, party leader Esther Ouwehand wore bright pink overalls with a message for radical change. With her outfit, Ouwehand does away with the fables of the powerful agricultural lobby and political parties that have knowingly caused a worse climate and animal suffering. Ouwehand's overalls contain three often heard fallacies: 'Nettles are nature, too', 'They don't feel anything' and 'We still have 30 years'. With this, Ouwehand refers to the myths that those in power spread so as not to have to tackle animal suffering and the climate and biodiversity crises.

Esther Ouwehand in her pink 'fable overall'.

Explaining her choice of outfit, Ouwehand says: "We are at a tipping point of major changes with regards to animals, climate, nature and the environment. For years, conservative forces such as the agro-lobby, vested interest parties and politicians have opposed these changes. They downplayed major problems such as the climate and nature crises and ridiculed people who tried to do something about it. Animal suffering in the livestock industry got pushed aside with a few easy one-liners and the nature crisis was laughed off. Fortunately, we are now almost at a point where everyone realizes that this is becoming a losing battle. Radical change is just around the corner, and the Party for the Animals welcomes it with open arms. Every day, animals suffer in mega barns. Endless amounts of agricultural manure and toxins threaten our nature and contribute to climate change. This has to stop now."

During budget discussions, the Party for the Animals called for at least the following measures:

  1. A reduction in the number of farm animals by at least 75%.
  2. Immediate abolition of subsidies for fossil fuel companies.
  3. The most polluting companies must immediately contribute to the sustainable transition.

No going back to 'business as usual' after the corona pandemic

Since 2006, when the Party for the Animals was elected to the Dutch Parliament, Prinsjesdag has been day that politicians of the party make a political statement with their outfit. In 2020, for example, Ouwehand wore a pinstripe tailored suit with the warning that a return to the "old normal" after the COVID-19 crisis was unacceptable. With the suit, Ouwehand pointed out that the pandemic threat of zoonoses (not only COVID-19, but other human-to-animal infectious diseases such as bird flu and swine flu as well) is still not taken seriously enough. Even after the global coronavirus pandemic, those in power were still unwilling to limit the exploitation of animals and therefore the risk of new zoonoses.

Esther Ouwehand in the pinstripe suit of Mediha Kaplan in 2020. Photo: Thomas Slijper.

'Every little critter helps'

A year prior, former party leader Marianne Thieme wore a dress that focused on the smallest members of our society: the insects. The motto: 'Every little critter helps'. The dress symbolized the importance of non-human life on earth. Humans make up only 0.01 percent of life on Earth. And yet government plans barely pay attention to the 99.99 percent of the rest of life on Earth and mainly focus on short-term human interests. According to the Party for the Animals, politics should not be self-centred, but eco-centred.

Marianne Thieme in Achmed Oso's 'Every little critter helps' dress in 2019. Photo: Jeroen Moerdijk.