The animals are on the march. When traditional politics fractures, new parties come to the fore. And in the Netherlands, the Party for the Animals is in the running before the March 15 national election. While Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party and Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals fight it out for first place, the need for coalition partners means the Animal party could play a role in creating a working majority needed to form a government. The rise in nationalist sentiment, which has bolstered groups such as the U.K. Independence Party and Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France, threatens to disrupt the conventional order in the Netherlands, one of the core founding members of the European Union. A new governing coalition that successfully excludes the anti-Islam, anti-immigration Freedom Party — as the mainstream groups have promised — could require as many as six separate alliance members to reach a 76-seat majority in the Dutch lower house of Parliament. That’s where Marianne Thieme comes in.
Thieme, head of the Party for the Animals, which supports animal welfare and the environment, said that the traditional parties will have to court a smaller faction like hers to make the electoral math work in putting a government in place. “And that’s a very comfortable position because we can stay committed to our ideals and from that perspective we will look at the propositions made,” she said in an interview last week in her office in The Hague.
Wilders’s Freedom Party and Rutte’s Liberals are both expected to take 22 seats in the election, according to a Feb. 28 EenVandaag poll published on Tuesday. The Party for the Animals would get seven seats, the most in the group’s history and up from the two it currently controls.