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By Ben Kluvanek (5 minute read)

We all want to help animals live long, happy lives. The Animal Justice Party’s mission is to achieve this through legislation and policy change, so that we all live in a caring, compassionate society where our rights are respected. But politics is complicated, and messy, and sometimes discouraging – can we really win victories for animals in the political arena? These political parties from around the world show that the answer is a definite YES!

One of the forerunners of animal rights in the political world is from the Netherlands. The Party for the Animals was established quite early in 2002. Yet its first representatives were elected in 2006. Today, the party’s team holds four seats in the lower house, three seats in the upper house, and even one in the European Parliament. Considering the elected members at the regional and local level across the Netherlands brings the total up to 80. With this considerable presence, the Party for the Animals has won many victories, including: government support for reduced meat consumption; changes to the regulations at the European level about animal treatment during transport; and support for freeing animals from use in testing agricultural chemicals.

That party has a sister party in Belgium. DierAnimal was formed recently, and their first seat in parliament was won just last year. But if the successes in the Netherlands are any indication, then DierAnimal’s parliamentary victory is an indication of triumphs to come.

On the left, supporters of the Dutch Party for the Animals, and on the right, a marketing image from the Belgian party Dier Animal

In Portugal, the party People Animals Nature was founded in 2009. In 2015, the party won a seat in Portugal’s national parliament, which the party used to propose and pass a bill promoting vegan meals in public canteens. Since the elections last year, the party now holds a total of four seats in the national parliament, one seat in regional parliament, and one seat in European Parliament. Their increased presence in the political arena will ensure future successes for the animals.

There have also been modest successes in other countries. Like in Germany, where the Party for Human Environment Animal Protection has secured bans on goose riding and shooting, protection for and castration of wild cats, limiting the use of animals in circuses, and encouraging dog adoption from shelters. And even in Uruguay, where the Green Animalist Party now holds a seat in the lower house, which will be an asset for animals in the future.

In these countries, as with our three elected members here in Australia, people are already winning victories for the animals. The most striking part is how all of these parties were formed quite recently – in fact, most were formed after the turn of the century. In this short amount of time, these parties have succeeded in building an impressive global force of parliamentarians. These parties are showing the world that a respect for animals is at the heart of sound policy. Other countries will follow. After all, who would we have predicted these political successes ten years ago? What positive changes will the next ten years bring?

About the author

* Ben Kluvanek is a researcher in environmental policy. He has degrees in both ecology and economics, and is currently writing his doctoral thesis at the University of Adelaide. His work has been published in leading scientific journals in both ecology and general sciences.

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