“But are the other parties ready for us?”

Jonas van Lammeren, leader of the Animal Party in Amsterdam, would like to join the board of directors after March 16.Mark Driessen’s photo

Jonas van Lamaren (49) is the winner. Since being elected to city council in 2010 as Amsterdam’s first-ever Animal Party politician, he has garnered more votes in every election thereafter. In 2018, he was named the best consultant in the Netherlands, which naturally boosted his self-confidence. “The question is not whether we are ready to rule but whether the other parties are ready for us,” he said.

It looks like a fourth win is in the pipeline. If the polls are correct, the Animals Party will grow again during the mayoral elections on March 16. It remains to be seen whether it is sufficient to secure an additional fourth seat in the Council. But Van Lamaren’s Amsterdam division is clearly in an upward direction.

Highly educated and urban, there are more women than men

The success of the party in Amsterdam is not only due to Van Lammeren, but also to the target group with a rich representation in the capital. Election research by Matisse Rodwin, associate professor of political science at the UvA, shows that the Animals Party attracts a higher-than-average number of highly educated, civilian voters than other parties. Remarkably also, Rodwin wrote on the political blog Stukroodvlees.nl, it is also remarkable that more women vote for the party (almost 70 percent of women), compared to other parties. Moreover, in terms of positions, the Animals Party is essentially an alternative to PvdA, GroenLinks and SP voters, parties that already have many supporters in urban areas. If a party has to do well somewhere, it is in Amsterdam.

Although the Animals Party has always been an opposition party since its inception in Amsterdam, van Lammeren and his group have managed to bring about a lot of change. His first major achievement was a ban on the release of helium balloons, and later innovative regulations such as a ban on the distribution of advertising materials without permission, a festival tax and a citywide ban on fireworks. This is a much better result than the other opposition parties.

According to the head of the National Party, Ruud van der Velden, it has been a conscious choice for the Animals Party not to participate in coalitions since its founding in 2002. We have conducted expressive policies from the opposition. We launch ideas, stimulate discussion, and create awareness of new visions that other parties then embrace,” says van der Velden. “We’ve been incredibly successful in that. Just look at the ban on selling live lobsters in Amsterdam. At first Jonas was ridiculed, now there is no longer a discussion about it.”

The party is now involved in 29 municipalities, but according to van der Velden, coalition formation is possible in places where a progressive coalition is possible, such as Utrecht, Amsterdam and Leiden. “When the Progressive Alliance is an option, we can participate in allowing the city council to make fundamentally different choices.”

no promises

Van Lammeren also announced that he will be available in Amsterdam to participate in the orientation. “It’s simple for me, there are more trees to be saved from the alliance than the opposition.” According to van Lamaren, this means that the Animal Party, after 20 years of hard-line politics, must also defend the policies of other parties. Will we save all the trees as a coalition party? I doubt it. Can I guarantee that we are protecting Lutkemeerpolder against project developers? I can say that, but after March 16 this may fall to the negotiating table. That’s why I don’t promise you.”

Even van Lamaren keeps the door open for cooperation with the liberals. “I don’t expect it to happen quickly, but you shouldn’t judge VVD Amsterdam for what this party is doing nationally.” But party chief Van der Velden remains wary of that. This is not obvious, because their climate ambitions are much lower. This is possible in terms of content, provided they are ready to carry out our ambitions.”

If Party for the Animals only wants to take part in management under this condition, various files emerge in which Van Lammeren has to involve other parties. A ban on sport hunting, for example, which van Lammeren has been calling for for some time, or an end to the administration’s hunt for fallow deer in Amsterdam’s Waterleidingduinen. If van Lamaren wants the other parties to show an understanding of his far-reaching views on animal welfare, warm personal relationships are a must between him and the leaders of the other progressive parties.

Ruthless attack on GroenLinks

But anyone who has followed the discussions in recent weeks will see that van Lammeren and the other contenders for the new alliance are essentially fighting each other. Van Lammeren ruthlessly attacks GroenLinks because this party advocates temporary use of biomass until more sustainable alternatives are available. In a one-on-one debate in De Balie, Van Lammeren accused GroenLinks leader Rutger Groot Wassink of introducing a “criminal policy” regarding the selection of high-temperature heat networks. This kind of rhetoric may be part of the campaign, but it certainly doesn’t make GroenLinks more interested in cooperating with the Animal Party after March 16th.

After the 2018 council elections, van Lammeren made strict demands to the other parties before starting negotiations, which had to be agreed in any case. As a result, the party fell forward as a coalition partner. Van Lamaren says he won’t do it now, but party chief Van der Velden is keeping an eye on it. “We make no concessions on animals, nature and the environment.”

Battle of Stupira

On Wednesday, March 16, Amsterdam will elect a new city council. Spending in the lead up to it Albarol Daily interest in political parties, campaigns, opinion polls and relationships in Stopira. Read along via parool.nl/elections

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