Worldwide first: Party for the Animals to join the municipal executive in at least two large cities
A first for political parties for animal rights, nature and the environment: the Dutch Party for the Animals is to join the daily executive board of two large municipalities. With this change from opposition to the daily board of an administration, the party is writing history. “We are ready to take this responsibility now. The question that remains is whether or not the other parties are ready for us”, said Kirsten de Wrede, local leader of the Party for the Animals in Groningen, after their election win in March. Apparently, the other parties are ready now, as the eco-centric and planet-wide values of the Party for the Animals shine brightly throughout the presented coalition agreements.
The Dutch Party for the Animals grew strongly at last spring's municipal elections. In many municipalities, the number of elected councillors doubled. In several large cities, the party was even able to secure an impressive 10% of the votes. Following successful negotiations, the Party for the Animals will now join the daily municipal board of two large cities in the Netherlands: Arnhem and Groningen. Elsewhere, in Amersfoort and Almere, negotiations are still ongoing: the Party for the Animals still stands a chance to co-govern in these cities as well.
The two aldermen, or vice-mayors, whom the party has brought forward to join the municipal executives are the first-ever politicians from a party for animal rights, nature, and the climate worldwide to sit on the daily board of an administration. All other of the 190 locally, regionally and nationally elected representatives of the Party for the Animals and its sister parties from around the world exert their influence as part of the opposition – and MEP Anja Hazekamp from within the European Parliament in Brussels.
The fact that the Party for the Animals has managed to leave a clear mark on the negotiations can be interred from the coalition agreements, which were presented together with various other parties in the two municipalities. In both cases, the municipal plans show a social, planet-wide vision, and strongly emphasise the importance of improving the way animals, nature and the environment are treated. Both coalitions promise to no longer chase economic growth as a goal in and of itself, but instead to focus on the well-being and prosperity for both humans and animals while keeping within the Earth’s boundaries.
Getting to work for humans, animals, and the planet on a local level
On a local level, this entails policies that promote equal opportunities for all, investing more in animal welfare, and acknowledging the severity of the climate and biodiversity crises and to act accordingly. It entails policies that reduce energy consumption, pesticides and over-fertilisation, invest in the transition towards plant-based food patterns, and shorten the chain from farm to fork. It means plans that reinforce nature, animal welfare and ecological values, and opt for animal-friendly solutions to situations where humans and animals get in each other’s way.
“A clear win for animals!”, states the Party for the Animals in Arnhem. “We are incredibly proud that our views on, amongst others, the hunt, animal cruelty, and plant-based food have been incorporated in the agreement”. On lands owned by the municipality, hunting will be banned, and elsewhere it will be discouraged. Next to this, lunches and dinners organised by the municipality will be plant-based by default.
In Groningen, the Party for the Animals even has the first-ever alderman for the “Protein transition”, part of a portfolio that also includes nature, animals and culture. She plans to stimulate the transition towards a more plant-based diet for consumers and to support farmers who want to make the change towards sustainable agriculture. After all, reducing livestock farming is crucial to tackle the climate crisis, protect public health, and restore nature.
“We are convinced that we have clearly put the need to change our relationship with animals, nature and the environment on the map”, states the Party for the Animals in Groningen . “Naturally, we will remain critical. Being a driving force for change remains a top priority.”