The Dutch are having an election. It’s going to be fun — and there are animals.

So it’s been a while and obviously a lot has happened, but I’m not going to discuss that right now. Instead I’d like to talk for a bit about a phenomenon that used to be uniquely Dutch and still is somewhat of a political novelty: the Partij voor de Dieren (PVDD), or the Animal Party.

A few other countries have parties centered around animal rights by now, but nowhere are they as influential or politically relevant as they are in the Netherlands. Not only does the PVDD command two seats in parliament, it also has two votes in the senate, eighteen provincial seats, and one MEP.

This might seam marginal and, well, compared to some other parties it is. But it does mean that the PVDD is represented in almost all layers of Dutch politics, excluding municipal deliberative bodies. Plus, the PVDD is currently polling at anywhere between four and six seats, which would mean at least doubling the current number of seats in parliament. Not too bad for a party that formally entered the arena in 2006.

Moreover, the PVDD has been extremely active in the few years it has been in power. In October 2007 the department of agriculture reported it was forced to hire two new officials due to the absurdly large number of parliamentary questions the PVDD had sent to the department. Within less than a year the PVDD submitted 162 formal inquiries, to the tune of EUR 342,000. To put things in perspective: these 162 questions were asked by just two (!) members of parliament, while the Socialist Party (SP), which had 25 members of parliament, submitted 597 questions. Had the SP followed the same tempo as the PVDD it would have asked a ridiculous 2025 questions, or somewhere near 4 million euros in answers and only 400 short of the total number of inquiries during that period.

I’ll leave it up to you all to do the math on the number of requests the PVDD is going to make should they obtain four to six seats in parliament, but my guess is they’re not going to let up any time soon. As to the merits of the PVDD, well, at least they’re giving their constituents their money’s worth, and they’ve certainly managed to push the animal rights agenda into the public sphere. However, their unrelenting attitude and uncompromising stance will probably keep them out of a coalition in the foreseeable future. But hey, every nation needs an opposition, and the PVDD isn’t going anywhere. Till next time!