Animal Protection > Worldwide Actions > Netherlands
Political Party For Animals Not a Fad

AMSTERDAM, Dec 12 (Reuters) - It's not every day the leader of a political party with seats in parliament gives an interview with a goat nibbling at her coat and hair and surrounded by chickens.

This is 34-year-old law graduate Marianne Thieme whose party for animal rights aims to double its vote in the next Dutch election as people become more sensitive to the plight of animals on factory farms and after recent food scares.

"We are the first political party for animal rights in the world to be elected to parliament," Thieme, who has been compared to movie star turned animal rights icon Brigitte Bardot, said in an interview on an organic farm in Amsterdam.

The Party for Animals, founded in October 2002, won two seats in last month's Dutch general election, which saw the ruling Christian Democrats remain the largest party.

She quoted Mahatma Gandhi to underline animal rights groups are more than just a fad. "Like Gandhi said, the greatness of a nation can be measured by the way it treats its animals."
Many single-issue parties have sprung up in the Netherlands in recent years, fuelled in part by the country's liberal roots and as people become more aware of environmental issues.

Thieme said recent food crises -- bird flu, swine fever, mad cow, foot-and-mouth and blue tongue diseases -- and the culling of millions of animals made people more aware of where their food comes from and animals' living conditions on factory farms.

The Netherlands, Europe's second-biggest poultry producer after France and a top world poultry exporter, culled 30 million birds, about a third of its flock, after the H7N7 strain of avian flu hit the country in 2003.

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