I got the Dutch ballot lists for the European elections in the mail a few days ago. In the List Vote system, I can vote for any of several hundred candidates whose votes will primarily be assigned to the party list. If a candidate gets more than an X number of votes, he or she may get a seat in preference to the candidtates higher up the list. Political parties put their most important personalities at the top, giving them the best chance at gaining a seat in Parliament, but they like putting interesting or famous characters at the bottom of the list to gain attention and show these characters' endorsement of the party.
The list on the left takes this idea to extremes! The Partij voor de Dieren, "Party for the Animals", is a party whose platform is entirely based on animal rights, animal welfare and support for organic farming. "Kooks", I hear you say? If they are, then the Netherlands has quite a few kooks. The party narrowly missed getting a seat (out of 150) in the Dutch parliament. "Pig-hugging PETA members?" I hear you say...
Well, let's look at the bottom of the list. Who are these people?
At number 1, we find the party leader, Marianne Thieme. She's 30-ish and is the same person who nearly got a seat in the Dutch parliament last year. Other than that, I don't know that much about her. Let's go further down the list...
At 13, we find Paul Cliteur, formerly of the right-wing VVD. A jurist, columnist and philosopher known for his critique of Islam and multiculturalism. Not known as a woolly thinker, generally.
At 14, we find writer and painter Gerti Bierenbroodspot. I'm unfamiliar with her work.
At 15, we find another writer: Mensje van Keulen.
At 16: Belinda Meuldijk, a songwriter (the party's own page lists Maarten 't Hart, another writer, who unfortunately had to be scrapped from the list because he couldn't show a passport in time).
Seeing a pattern here?
At 17: Martin Gaus, owner of several dog training schools, writer of several books about dogs, and a presenter of animal programs on Dutch television. When Jeroen saw the list, he said "It's tempting to vote for Martin Gaus, just so I can say I did".
At 18: Jan Wolkers, one of the Netherlands best-loved writers, known internationally for Turks Fruit (Turkish Delight).
And at 19: Rudy Kousbroek, writer and essayist.
Now, one of my favorite statesmen, Vaclav Havel, is a writer, and he has done a great job as one of communist Czechoslovakia's foremost dissidents and the Czech Republic's first President. But this list looks like the party is aiming exclusively at support from the nation's literati. Are they the only ones who support animal rights, or just the only ones who will base their vote on that one issue to the exclusion of everything else?
(Note: while I was, uh, ruminating on this posting, I found out that this weblog had been added to the blogroll of A Fistful of Euros, in its "Living in Europe" section. I hope those of you coming here from there enjoyed this little Euro-political oddity!)