Animal party leader steps down temporarily “to clear her name”

Esther Ouwehand on stage at the party conference. Photo: Robin van Lonkhuijsen ANP

The leader of the pro-animal party PvdD told supporters on Sunday she was stepping back from the election campaign temporarily, despite winning a power battle with the party’s board earlier in the month.

Ouwehand told supporters she did not want to be party leader as long as there was a lack of clarity about the complaints about her integrity made earlier in the year, which had led to the previous board attempting to oust her.

She made the statement just 30 minutes after receiving the ringing endorsement of members and the new board during the party conference at the former cattle market in Den Bosch.

“The good news is that I am full of confidence that everything can be quickly sorted out,” Ouwehand said. “I still don’t know exactly what the accusations were and nor does the new board.”

Nos correspondent Xander van der Wulp described her move as an “unexpected twist in the plot”. It is “extremely damaging” for the party, which will have to start the election campaign without its leader, Van der Wulp said.

The PvdD had been one of the few established parties in line to make gains in the November vote. It currently has six MPs.

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