The Animal Welfare Party has thoroughly researched and discussed the political implications of contesting elections at different levels in different areas. The party’s former leader, Jasmijn de Boo, was heavily involved in the successful Dutch political Party for Animals from 2003 – 2004 and in 2010.

AWP regularly meets with animal protection experts, academics, philosophers, political advisors and leaders from other political parties.

Here we explain the reasons behind our past decisions, and the effects this has had on other parties.

Is there a need for a party that focuses on animal issues?

Sadly, yes. Although many animal issues are highly politicised in the UK, with advocates for animals and opponents across the political spectrum, the issues rarely rise to the the top of the political agenda. Hundreds of thousands of supporters of animal protection organisations are disappointed with the actions and achievements of mainstream political parties.  These people feel their concerns about animals are not being heard. Through direct dialogue, and by contesting seats in the same constituency, a party for animals can encourage or pressure political parties to incorporate more animal-friendly policies within their own manifestos. Losing votes to Animals Count / AWP helps other parties to understand they need to more adequately represent animal interests.

Is the Animal Welfare Party a single issue party?

In a word – no. We also support socially and environmentally progressive policies in non-animal areas. The important links between animals, people and the environment are central to our political ideology. In addition to basing manifestos on improved animal protection, AWP includes policies on a wide range of other issues, such as health, education, housing, transport, energy, justice, immigration and foreign policy. But we never lose sight of the fact that animals need a voice in politics and protection from policies that adversely affect them and we must be that voice.

Would a small party have any effect in a system without proportional representation?

Of course, the first-past-the-post system is not very conducive to smaller parties achieving election success. After conducting research and discussing the issues at Animals Count’s Third Party Conference on 19th September 2009, Animals Count decided to contest the 2010 General Elections. We targeted a marginal seat, with the aim of influencing the overall outcome in favour of animals.

Animals Count campaigned right in the heart of the political arena, with the aim of encouraging other political parties to become more animal-friendly. As long as animals are not protected adequately by existing UK political parties, a dedicated animal party needs to take the lead.

What about the Green Party?

Some argue that, by standing in elections,  Animal Welfare Party candidates may take away votes from ‘animal-friendly’ candidates – in particular Green Party candidates. Animal Welfare Party acknowledges that some Green leaders and elected members have an excellent track record when it comes to Animal Protection, and some Green policies are good for animals. However, this is far from uniform. Whilst these inconsistencies remain, we feel that we still have a duty to exist and be the voice for the hundreds of thousands of animals who suffer daily.

Why did Animals Count contest the Eastern region in the 2009 European Parliament (EP) elections?

In March 2009, the Green Party leaders requested a meeting with the Animals Count leaders. Discussions were wide-ranging and positive. However, the Greens requested us not to contest the South East (where Caroline Lucas is MEP), London (where Jean Lambert is MEP), the East and the Northwest regions; their four key targets. We had already decided not to compete against Caroline Lucas, as we appreciate her excellent work for animals in the European Parliament to date. Our calculations showed that we would not be a threat to Jean Lambert’s seat in London, but nevertheless on this occasion we decided to honour their request not to stand in London. On 7th June, the election results for London demonstrated that Jean Lambert had received in excess of 72,000 more votes than the number required for a seat. Our calculations had been correct: Animals Count would not have been a threat to the Green Party in London, had we chosen to stand there.

Examination of public policy statements revealed no mention of any policies on animal issues, by the Green Party candidate contesting the Eastern Region. For this and other reasons, we chose to contest the Eastern region. Again, our calculations informed us that Animals Count was unlikely to cost the Eastern region candidate a seat.

It is of course probable that we cost the Greens, and all other parties, a certain number of votes, but the converse is also true: by competing against us the Greens also cost us votes.  However, even if every single one of our votes had gone to the Greens – which is far from likely – the numbers show that we would not have cost them a seat anywhere.

Why don’t you join the Green Party?

Of course, we’ve given that question careful thought. We have much in common with the Green Party, far more unites us than divides us, and we are delighted to continue to work together with the Green Party leaders on policy development and raising the importance of animal issues within the Green Party. But our priority is to follow a path that leads to the best possible outcome for animals in the shortest amount of time. Right now, we don’t feel joining the Green Party would provide that opportunity.

And finally…

We live in a democracy. All parties have a right to exist (except, we believe, for those that spread hatred, racism etc.). We hope that the Animal Welfare Party will help influence the policies of other political parties. We need support from everyone in the animal protection movement to help raise the bar for animals in politics, and we hope we can count on your support too.

We are a dedicated political party that focuses on respect and compassion for all living beings. We will work for a world in which animals are not exploited for any purpose, which also brings huge benefits for people and the environment.

Other frequently asked questions about Animals Count / Animal Welfare Party

Are there any similar parties in other European countries?

The most successful party is the Dutch Political ‘Party for the Animals’ which won two seats in Dutch parliament in the general elections of 22 November 2006, 9 seats in the March 2007 Provincial State elections and one seat in the Senate. In 2008, 12 representatives were elected to provincial water board committees.

Similar parties for the animals also exist in Germany, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Turkey, Israel, Canada, Australia, India and the US.

Do you have to be a vegetarian or vegan to join the party?

No. Although many of our members are vegetarian or vegan, there is no requirement to be vegetarian or vegan to join the party.

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