Categories: Popular

In the Netherlands, Esther Ouwehand and her very popular Party for the Animals

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A party for the animals, what a funny idea. In 2006, when two elected members of the Partij voor de Dieren (PvdD, Party of Animals) party entered the Chamber of Deputies in The Hague, observers spoke of a good joke by Dutch voters of the political world. Voters who are, it is true, never short of imagination to the point that the 150 elected members of the Second Chamber are today divided into… 21 different fractions.

Sixteen years ago, before the two defenders of the animal cause won their bench, their colleagues also laughed. Would they come dressed as chickens? asked one. Did they spread crumbs in their office to attract mice and, thus, “feel at home” ?, asked another. We had also found names for them, such as “the babes” Where “animal divas”.

Over time, however, the fat laughs and sexist quips have ceased. And when Esther Ouwehand, 46, recently questioned the Liberal Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, on his draft budget, an unusual silence reigned in this assembly where discussions are often very hectic. Because the MP, leader of her group, has carved out a solid reputation over the years.

Read also (2018): Article reserved for our subscribers In the Netherlands, justice is not (yet) for dogs

Its interventions, based on scientific data and precise figures, its repeated warnings – before the pandemic – on the risks of zoonoses (the transmission of infectious diseases from animals to humans) or its denunciation of the abuse of the very intensive breeding practiced in his country (the world’s second largest exporter of food products) marked the spirits and silenced sarcasm.

Numerous and detailed interpellations

In the Second Chamber, it is said that the interpellations of Mme Ouwehand are so numerous and detailed that the Ministry of Agriculture had to mobilize two full-time civil servants to enable the competent minister to respond to them.

On the day of the recent budget debate, the MP had lured the eternally jovial Mark Rutte onto ground he had little taste for. Why didn’t he lower the VAT on fruits and vegetables? Why did he not challenge, he who says he is concerned about the environment, trade agreements leading to deforestation? And what were his recommendations for energy savings in social housing?

Concentrated, Mr. Rutte responded by doing… Rutte, namely that he got away with it with a few pirouettes, pretenses and strokes of humor. Overwhelmed, Mme Ouwehand put his forehead on the shelf of his desk. The photo went around the country and will no doubt contribute to increasing the growing popularity of his party, now neck and neck with the Christian Democrats and environmentalists in the polls.

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