As 2015 draws to a close, we take a moment to reflect upon some of the highlights in the animal welfare politics movement over the last 12 months.
In Australia, Animal Justice Party won their first ever seat and Mark Pearson, former Executive Director of NSW Animal Liberation, took his place as a dedicated representative for animals in the New South Wales Upper House.
Thanks to a fantastic response to our fundraising campaign on crowdfunder.com, Animal Welfare Party was able to stand four vegan candidates in the UK General Election.
AWP’s Vanessa Hudson, candidate for Holborn & St. Pancras was interviewed by Andrew Neil on the BBC’s ‘Daily Politics’ show and apparently introduced him to a new concept – speciesism.
Just days before the election, Piers Morgan, writing in the Daily Mail, said that he would be voting for AWP’s candidate in Kensington, Professor Andrew Knight.
After mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman was removed from office, a new election was called for the London borough. Hot on the heels of contesting the General Election and in record time, AWP managed to secure enough signatures to stand Vanessa Hudson (resident of Tower Hamlets) as the AWP candidate for mayor.
Both election campaigns received some fantastic media coverage and feedback from the general public and, we believe, helped raise the profile of animal welfare and environmental issues.
In terms of votes received, the results of both elections showed significant growth on previous similar elections.
In Portugal, André Silva candidate for PAN (Party for People, Animals and Nature) made the headlines when he succeeded in winning the party their first seat in the Portuguese parliament. As PAN’s campaign had gathered pace the party had attracted the largest following on Facebook of any Portuguese political party.
PAN’s victory here followed the their 2011 victory in the Madeiran regional election where Rui Manuel dos Santos Almeida also won the party one seat.
PAN’s latest victory takes the number of elected representatives for animals around the world to a record number of 27.
On World Vegan Day, the Humane Party of the United States announced that Clifton Roberts had been nominated as the Humane Party’s 2016 candidate for the office of the President of the United States of America. Roberts is the first-ever Humane Party candidate for U.S. President and, we understand, the first ever vegan candidate for President.
As November drew to a close the third Animal Politics Foundation Conference took place in Tirana, Albania. Animal Welfare Party delegates joined others from the animal parties of the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Cyprus, Finland and Australia and groups from Israel, France, Serbia and Albania to discuss international animal welfare issues. Topics discussed included free trade treaties, live animal transport, stray animals, the Asian elephant crisis, social media in election campaigning, growing our parties, strengthening our network and international cooperation.
Given the successes above, 2016 looks set to be a busy year for animal welfare politics – both in the UK and around the world.