The European Parliament is an immense sum of sensibilities, sometimes outlandish. There are Polish ultra-nationalists able to question whether men and women are equally intelligent, Hungarian, French or Italian populists in favor of taking from the EU the powers stolen to their countries. German or French environmentalists clamoring for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Flemish separatists, Catalans or Scots who are the founders of the birth of new nations. Also, of course, liberals, social democrats and Christian Democrats.
In 2014, for the first time, the animal movement joined the ideological maremágnum present among the 751 MEPs in the Chamber. His landing in the Chamber came with the election of a Dutch and a German MEP. Both are for now the only representatives of Europe that would prohibit hunting and bullfighting, which denies medical tests on animals and warns of their exploitation in industrial farms.
Some of the leaders of that Europe, minority but apparently in crescendo, have met this Thursday in Brussels. The animal candidates to the European elections of 11 countries – Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Cyprus and the United Kingdom – have carried out a joint act in the European Parliament, sealed with the signing of a manifesto common.
Among them has been the Spanish Silvia Barquero, leader of the Animalist Party against Animal Abuse (PACMA). "We are on the verge of obtaining representation, for the first time we have real possibilities to enter the institutions and speak in favor of the most forgotten, the animals," he said. His formation has lived in recent years an unstoppable increase in support. In the general elections of June 2016, it obtained 286,702 votes, 1.19% of the total. The figure represents the same percentage as the PNV and more than EH Bildu and the Canarian Coalition together, and shows a tendency to uninterrupted rise for more than a decade.
In recent times, Barquero has visited Brussels to be advised by his Dutch counterparts, owners of five seats, two senators and a multitude of local offices in his country, and a mirror in which the rest of European animal parties watch. The exchange of information with colleagues in the North has been reciprocal. The Spanish party is the second most supported on Facebook with 629,000 followers, only behind Podemos. And it tries that the Dutch animalists can import their strategies to catch support in the Network.
The end of bullfighting is one of his star proposals. At a time when several bullfighters have left the squares to join electoral lists of parties such as Vox, Barquero believes the time has come to end the bullfights. "In Spain there is an inconsistency, the penal code punishes with a year and a half prison sentences to those who mistreat an animal causing death, and that coexists with the bullfighting regulation in which the punishment that must be given to a bull is regulated. in the phase of the fight, "he says at the end of the collective act in the European Parliament.
According to Barquero, PACMA has 5,200 members, three times more than on the eve of the previous European elections. Each of them pays a quarterly fee of 20 euros that has allowed them to gather 100,000 euros for this campaign. Despite having a program focused solely on the defense of animals and the fight against climate change, they refuse to participate in a coalition with other formations, which has earned them the criticism of those who accuse them of further dispersing the left vote, more traditionally sensitive to the animalist cause. "PACMA occupies a space that no one has been able to work for, and in 2006 I protested to the PSOE headquarters complaining to Zapatero about an animal protection law that he did not fulfill despite taking it on his electoral program," recalls Barquero.
The surveys conducted by European animal scientists lead them to believe that it is not unreasonable to obtain jointly between five and seven MEPs compared to the current two. The Dutch animal parliamentarian Anja Hazekamp, one of the elected in 2014, perceives a growing awareness of the way animals are treated, and affirms that the discussion about interaction with them is in the public debate. "In more and more countries, animals have a voice in politics." During his mandate in Brussels, he has promoted the withdrawal of subsidies to fighting bulls and measures to improve animal welfare in industrial farms and slaughterhouses. Barquero aspires to be part, after the elections of May 26, of that European animal alliance.