Worldlog Week 23 – 2009
We worked hard last week to win a seat in the European Parliament. We knew it would be difficult because Dutch parliament has 150 seats (two of which are ours), whereas the Netherlands has been given just 25 seats in the European Parliament, or the equivalent of 6 seats in Dutch parliament.
Our European party leader Natasja Oerlemans and all the Party for the Animals volunteers executed an intensive campaign to achieve what many thought was an impossible task. As we watched the election night results on Thursday evening, we were extremely excited and to be honest, we still are. The exit polls predicted we would obtain 3.8% of the vote, and that ultimately climbed to more than 4%.
However, because a number of municipalities still have not released their results and the Election Council will not release the official results until 11 June, we are going to be on tenterhooks right until the very end.
Whether we, the first party in the world to not focus on people, get a seat in this international parliament or not will depend on just a few hundred votes.
I personally am optimistic, but even if we do not get a seat, it is nothing short of a breakthrough for us to have achieved the equivalent of 6 seats in parliament whereas we now only occupy 2.
We also need to keep in mind that the low turn-out rates for the European elections worked in our favour. Turn-out rates remained under 40% as the large majority of Dutch voters admitted insufficient interest and/or trust in European politics to get down to the ballot-box.
The yawning chasm between citizens and politics offers the perspective for all European countries to build bridges using our overriding interest in animal rights and to get voters interested again in politics. The ones to achieve this will be the parties that can look beyond just the interests of their constituents.
More news to come.
Last Friday I had the honour of meeting the Dalai Lama in the Dutch parliament.
I asked him what he thought about the large-scale consumption of meat in relation to such questions as hunger, animal rights and climate change.
The Dalai Lama’s spirits were high after a long elucidation on the situation in Tibet and he told me he was encouraged by the fact that there are groups that take a stand for animal rights. He believes we should scrutinise if animals are strictly necessary in medical experiments, and we need to take the laboratory animal's pain into account.
The Dalai Lama believes "All creatures have the same right to live without fear. We therefore have no right to exploit other creatures."
In response to my question, in the presence of the Dutch press and parliamentary delegation, he said that he denounces the mass production of meat.
This leader of Tibet called for the Dutch people to eat as much of a vegetarian diet as possible and to bring their children up to respect other forms of life. He himself turned vegetarian in 1956. Only, he told me, he developed immediate jaundice. ‘I turned the colour of the living Buddha’, he grinned. Under doctor’s advice he started consuming minimal amounts of animal products.
If the Dalai Lama were to vote, he told us he would vote for the Party for the Animals. He was surprised that the Netherlands had a Party for the Animals in parliament.
Hopefully next week I will have good news for you about the European elections. One little bright spot is that soon the Netherlands will receive a 26th seat in the European Parliament and just who will occupy that seat still needs discussion in Dutch parliament.
Picture: Jeroen van der Meyde
See you next week!