Worldlog Week 24 – 2009

12 juni 2009

Last Thursday the Netherlands Electoral Council announced the results of the European elections. While the allocation of the first 25 seats went smoothly, the question of who gets the 26th has everyone pulling out their hair in The Hague (as Holland’s largest news agency put it). The Netherlands will be entitled to this 26th seat in the autumn following ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon.

It as a rather complicated and technical issue but it basically boils down to the government having failed to properly arrange the allocation of this seat before the June 4 elections.

The Electoral Council (the highest body that oversees elections) had advised the cabinet to also allow parties that achieve 75% of the electoral threshold a shot at a seat. The cabinet, however, ignored this advice and proposed allowing the Lower House to decide the allocation of the 26th seat.

It now appears that if the recommendation of the Electoral Council is adopted by the Lower House (which would be the most obvious option since the Electoral Council is the highest authority in this area), the 26th seat would go to the Party for the Animals.

But if the Lower House copies the cabinet and ignores the recommendation of the Electoral Council, the 26th seat will be awarded to the Party for Freedom.

So in fact the Lower House determines who is awarded the seat after the elections have taken place – which is awkward and inelegant to put it mildly.

The Speaker of the House has expressed her concerns and some Members of Parliament are calling for a recommendation from the Council of State (the highest body concerned with administrative law) or from the Electoral Council (which has already issued a recommendation which it cannot suddenly change).

Moreover, the Lower House has a responsibility to carefully consider laws submitted to it and a blunder on the part of the cabinet cannot change that. Whatever happens, our contesting of the European elections has again kicked up a dust and that can only be good for the rights and interests of animals.

I believe it will be a while before there is a definitive decision. I will keep you abreast of any developments.
According to the provisional results of the elections, of all the ‘new’ parties, we came out on top. We got 3.46% of the votes. Other new parties, such as Libertas of Irish multimillionaire Declan Ganley, did not get past 0.3%. This is useful to know for anyone thinking of starting a new political party. It appears that the new people-focused parties don’t have much to add to the existing political spectrum, apart from the temporary successes of populist parties based on nationalism and islamophobia.

But a party that focuses on animals, nature and the environment stands a much better chance. And something to think about: be careful about who you approach for financing/sponsorship. Libertas in the Netherlands incurred a debt of 350,000 euros. Ganley had promised in writing to pay the printing and media bills, etc. but is yet to meet his obligations. The haughty ambitions of this pan-European party went up in smoke. Only in France did the party win a single seat while they had expected to win dozens throughout Europe. There is a serious chance that the party will collapse like a house of cards as a result of miscalculations, an inflated ego and problems financing the campaign.

Our motto: only spend money that you have and not money that so far has only been promised. Spending money you don’t actually have would only hurt the cause and the people supporting it.

Another viewing tip for next week. The incredible film HOME by Yann Arthus-Bertrand shows how important to organize our society along radically different lines. Have fun watching this story from a surprising perspective!

Until next week!