Party for the Animals wants to put internal conflict behind at conference
Members of the Party for the Animals (PvdD), plagued by internal conflicts, are meeting in Den Bosch. At the congress, the party leadership hopes to look ahead again and put the "hassle", as the very public dispute between party chair Esther Ouwehand and the former party leadership is called, behind them. The question is whether the hatchet will be buried and whether the party has not been damaged in view of the upcoming elections.
It should have been an optimistic congress: a new political generation in The Hague, and the Party for the Animals would grow again, it was expected. The party has been growing steadily for years, or "like organic cabbage," as Ouwehand called it. The party hopes to benefit from gains in the polls, despite the internal dispute.
That dispute revolved around Esther Ouwehand and the party's board, which resigned last week. The board had previously announced out of the blue that it would not nominate Ouwehand as party leader because of reports about her integrity. Ouwehand saw this as a counterattack by the board after she had been highly critical of the party leadership in an email. The board, she said, was hindering the party's development because it wanted to remain in the background as part of its "testimony policy."
Ouwehand, in turn, had far too much power, the board claimed. It was only because of the furor that arose that the board members ultimately nominated her as party leader. A publication in the NRC followed about Ouwehand's demanding and sometimes ruthless leadership campaign. Nevertheless, she enjoys great popularity among members.
According to Ouwehand, the party board has "a stubborn tendency (...) to be guided every time by the founders" of the party. MPs Marianne Thieme and Niko Koffeman founded the party in 2002. There should be a board that takes a position "independent of the founders," she said.
MP Christine Teunissen told De Telegraaf that Ouwehand "did not do anything other than express her legitimate concerns about the lack of professionalism and bad manners within the party “ According to Teunissen, there is no question of Ouwehand no longer being a party leader: "That is for the members to decide. And not the board," she told the newspaper in early September.
Party members can give their opinion on Sunday about the list that the retiring board presented. For example, Rep. Lammert van Raan is trying to get to No. 6. He was unexpectedly placed at the ineligible number 20.
Ines Kostić, parliamentary group leader in Noord-Holland, was already the highest newcomer on the list: She was placed 5th by the board. She is running for No. 2, a seat that Ouwehand's deputy and right-hand woman, Christine Teunissen, currently occupies but supports Kostić's candidacy to make way for "new emerging talent." Kostić has long been considered a new hope in the party.
PvdD members can also change the election program. On "amendment day" on Saturday, there was already extensive discussion about which proposed amendments would be discussed at the party congress. Members had submitted dozens of amendments.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times