Marianne Thieme is chair of the parliamentary group in the House of Representatives. She studied law at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Even before her studies, she took a great interest in the plight of animals in our society. To her great disappointment, her law course devoted precious little attention to the issue of animal rights. They hardly play a role in Dutch legislation.
After graduating in 1998, Marianne went to work for a governmental advice bureau in The Hague. In her leisure time, she worked as a volunteer for the Dierenbescherming (the Dutch Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). She then decided to make a career in animal protection, and subsequently became a policy adviser for Bont voor Dieren (‘Fur for Animals’), an organisation for the protection of fur-bearing animals. In 2004, she became director of Wakker Dier, an organisation that fights for the abolition of the factory farming industry.
In the meantime, in late 2002, Marianne had already set up the Party for the Animals with two kindred spirits. She believed that the animal protection organisations were failing to get the issue of animal welfare high enough on the political agenda. She therefore preferred to operate within the political arena. Indeed, with a Party for the Animals in parliament, politicians would no longer be able to avoid the issue of animal welfare. She narrowly missed gaining a seat in parliament at the 2003 national elections, but in November 2006 she and colleague Esther Ouwehand were elected to the House of Representatives.
In August 2006, the agricultural magazine Boerderij (‘Farm’) had proclaimed her to be ‘the most important woman in the Netherlands with respect to the position of farmers’; this was even before she was elected to parliament. Readers of the popular women’s magazine Viva voted her the ‘Hottest Politician’ of 2006. In late 2006, the Dutch parliamentary press selected Marianne Thieme as the ‘Political Talent of the Year’. In January 2008, the youth organisation of the ChristianUnion, the smallest of the parties in the current Dutch governmental coalition, declared her ‘The Angel of the Year’. In this way, the ChristianUnion youth expressed their appreciation for the way in which she strives for justice for all living creatures. At the beginning of 2008, the Dierenbescherming (the Dutch Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) chose Marianne as the ‘Animal Protector of the Year’.