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EVANA Interview with Renato Pichler, Co-Founder of the Tierpartei Schweiz (TSP) (Animal Party Switzerland)
'Everyone who wants to help animals, the environment and people is welcome'
On 24 July 2010 a press release informed us about the launch of the Animal Party Switzerland and its priority of introducing the question of animal welfare into politics, economics and society.
EVANA asked Renato Pichler, Co-Founder and President of the Swiss Union for Vegetarianism, to tell us more about this new political party.
28 July 2010
EVANA: The launch of the Animal Party Switzerland on 24 July 2010 was a very pleasant surprise, not only for the international EVANA team. Can you please tell us a little bit about the reasons for this step? And what is the leitmotiv or slogan of the new party?
Renato Pichler: Our motto is by Albert Schweitzer: “I am life that wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live." For the Animal Party Switzerland not the economy (making a maximum of money and creating jobs at all cost) takes center stage but the lives of humans and animals.
The idea of an animal party is not new. However, after the rejection of the proposal of nation-wide animal protection lawyers, the issue of animal welfare in politics became more urgent. Of course, so-called animal protection laws are already laid down in the Swiss legislation but since they are not enforced they remain nothing but window-dressing.
During the last years we saw a change in public perception: Today more and more people consider animals as sentient fellow creatures. Still, our dealings with animals continue to be based on making money (food production) or on other benefits for humans (publicity spots with animals, pets etc.)
In Switzerland we have no animal lobby in politics and industry and in the statutes of other political parties their wellbeing is not addressed. Our party wants to close that gap.
EVANA: What reaction did your announcement bring in Switzerland? Internationally?
Renato Pichler: We are surprised about the great deal of national and international attention. Many newspapers and broadcasters reported about the launch. So far the media interest has not stopped, which shows us that the time really has come for an animal party.
EVANA: The building from scratch of a political party means a lot of work, not only regarding the administrative side. Can you at this stage tell us already what the next steps will be? Are there any special Swiss problems, which must be dealt with immediately?
Renato Pichler: It is true that the launch of a party demands of lot of time and effort. Our very first task now is to channel the interest of members and activists but at the same time we are already involved in a petition to retain the post of animal lawyer in Zurich.
EVANA: And what are the mid- and long-term goals?
Renato Pichler: We think that money and jobs should no longer play the most prominent roles in politics but that the time has come to pay proper respect to life itself. All our resolutions will be based on considerations of animal welfare, which will also automatically engender benefits for people. After all, an intact environment and a peaceful animal-people co-existance serves everyone and enhances the quality of life for humans and non-humans alike.
EVANA: How do you plan to introduce your ideas and projects into the Swiss society? What will your information campaigns look like?
Renato Pichler: We shall prove that ethics do have a place in politics. With the help of a transparent, honest and sustainable policy we will try to involve also those who so far shied away from political commitment. Voters can count on us whenever the interests of animals are at stake, which is the case more often than people think.
People and animals living together peacefully is only possible when both are doing well. That is why the protection of people has to go hand in hand with the protection of animals and the environment.
EVANA: As President of Swiss Union for Vegetarianism a lifestyle without meat has high priority for you personally. Is this issue also part of the official programme? Or does the party assume that growing respect for animals automatically stops degrading them to just food?
Renato Pichler: The animal party is not a vegetarian party. Everyone who wants to help animals, the environment and people is welcome. However, my own love for animals is not at all compatible with the consumption of animal corpses. This point will certainly lead to occasional debates but should not split the community of animal welfare activists. That would not help any animal. It is important that all those who want to lighten the load of animals in our society work together.
EVANA: Are there any specific Swiss environmental problems which are connected with meat production?
Renato Pichler: For years already several lakes in the hot spot of Swiss pig fattening farms need to be ventilated artificially. This is necessary because otherwise they would suffer from a critical lack of oxygen resulting from the enormous quantities of liquid manure from animal factories. Without such measures all life would suffocate in the lakes.
EVANA: In Canada there is already talk of `the critical mass' of demand for vegetarian products and consequent efforts of the industry to accommodate it. What is the situation in Switzerland?
Renato Pichler: Mainly wholesalers are putting more products for vegetarians on the Swiss market as well. The social change is clearly visible, industry reacts.
EVANA: Do you plan international cooperation with other political parties involved in animal protection in Europe and the world? After all, the Dutch "Partij voor de Dieren“ was the first one to be elected into a national parliament and its success may show the way for others.
Renato Pichler: We shall work with all parties so long as synergies exist. Of course, we’ll first establish a network within Switzerland, and later abroad.
EVANA: What would you like to tell potential voters in Switzerland on this occasion?
Renato Pichler: Only those who support and vote for the Animal Party Switzerland can be certain that their votes are serving the well-being of humans and animals alike. All other parties have demonstrated again and again that they have other priorities (which is also clearly visible from their respective party programs).
EVANA: Renato, we appreciate that in spite of your present heavy workload you took the time to answer our questions and we wish the new party rapid expansion and tremendous success.
TIER Partei Schweiz (TPS)
CH 5630 Muri / AG
Tel. +41 (0) 44 760 50 42
Fax. +41 (0) 44 776 10 11
Link: Homepage of the Animal Party Switzerland
Link: TV Spot: Animals get a voice in Swiss politics
Other EVANA-articles about this topic:
Intervju z Renato Pichler, soustanoviteljem Švicarske stranke za živali (TIER Partei Schweiz) (sl)
Interview d’EVANA avec Renato Pichler, co-fondateur du Tierpartei Schweiz (TSP) (Parti animal suisse) (fr)
EVANA Interviste me Renato Pichler, Bashke-Themelues i Tierpartei Schweiz (TSP) (Partia e Kafsheve ne Zvicer) (sq)
EVANA-Interview mit Renato Pichler, Gründungsmitglied der Tierpartei Schweiz (TPS) (de)