Farmers’ Party Stuns Netherlands In Election

The Netherlands woke up groggy on Thursday the day after an electoral tidal wave from a party bringing together farmers. His arrival in the Senate jeopardizes the government’s environmental ambitions.

The Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) party, founded in 2019, made a strong entry into the Senate during the provincial elections on Wednesday: it should become the largest party in the upper house with 16 or 17 seats. The party has been one of the main players in a wave of protests against Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition plans to limit nitrogen emissions, including reducing livestock and possibly closing farms.

These demonstrations have attracted worldwide attention and garnered support in particular from former US President Donald Trump and several far-right figures. “People made their voices heard, and how!” exclaimed Caroline van der Plas, co-founder of the BBB and the party’s only MP, adding that “the coalition should take this very seriously”.

The provincial elections, which are used to appoint senators, saw the BBB win the most votes in the majority of the country’s 12 provinces, according to the latest counts, a “monster victory” in the eyes of the Dutch press.


The BBB also won the votes of a section of the population disappointed by the so-called traditional parties and who have lost confidence in Mark Rutte, in office since 2010 and the longest-lived Dutch Prime Minister. “The BBB’s historic gain is the result of many protest votes,” observes Marleen de Rooy, political journalist for the public television NOS.

Mr. Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) had to settle for second place, with an estimate of 10 seats out of the 75 in the Senate. “It’s not the victory we wanted,” said Mark Rutte on Wednesday evening, faced with a headache: the four-party coalition finds itself far from a majority in the Senate, now more than divided with the BBB of one side and the ecologists (GroenLinks) and the Labor Party (PvdA) on the other, which together should obtain 15 seats.

The coalition may well struggle to find the necessary support for its environmental plans: the BBB could ally itself with equally opposing right-wing parties, while GroenLinks and the Labor Party believe that these plans are not ambitious enough.


“The voters have given the government a complex political puzzle” to solve, reports the daily De Volkskrant. The BBB and the left bloc will demand “substantial concessions” to cooperate with Mark Rutte, he adds. Caroline van der Plas, appearing gobsmacked by the results in several headlines on Thursday, immediately underlined her commitment to challenging government plans for the environment.

The executive wants to reduce nitrogen emissions, a greenhouse gas emitted in particular by fertilizers and livestock effluents, by 50% by 2030. This measure is necessary, according to him, to solve the housing crisis. Large construction projects, which also emit nitrogen, have been suspended by the courts for environmental reasons.

The Hague wants to release 25 billion euros by 2035 to help the agricultural sector reduce its emissions. But the latter says he is unfairly targeted in relation to industry and transport.

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