Farmer’s protest party achieves a large election victory and wakes up the Senate

AMSTERDAM, March 15 (Reuters) – A farmers’ protest party shook up the political landscape in the Netherlands on Wednesday and emerged as the big winner in provincial elections that determine the composition of the Senate.

The party BBB or BoerBurgerBeweging joined a wave of protests against the government’s environmental policy and seemed to win more senate seats than Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD party.

An initial exit poll predicted that BBB won 15 of a total of 75 seats in the Senate, which has the power to block legislation agreed in the House of Representatives, while the VVD will drop from 12 to 10 seats.

BBB’s meteoric rise is a major blow to Rutte’s government coalition, which casts doubt on its goal to drastically reduce nitrogen pollution on farms, the only issue BBB was founded on in 2019.

Latest updates

View 2 more stories

“No one can get around us any longer,” BBB foreman Caroline van der Plas told broadcaster Radio 1.

“The voters have spoken out very clearly against the policies of this administration.”

The government is aiming to halve nitrogen emissions by 2030, because a relatively large number of livestock and intensive use of fertilizers have led to levels of nitrogen oxides in the soil and water that are in violation of European Union regulations.

The nitrogen problem has paralyzed construction in the Netherlands as environmental groups have won a series of lawsuits ordering the government to limit emissions and conserve nature before new building permits can be issued.

The BBB says the problem has been exaggerated and the proposed solutions have been unfairly weighed against farmers, leading to the closure of many farms and food shortages.

Since the previous provincial elections in 2019, the Rutte cabinet no longer has a senate majority and has to negotiate with mostly left-wing opponents.

The two most cooperative parties, Labor and GroenLinks, seemed determined to keep their seats, keeping their combined group level with BBB and possibly enough to maintain support for Rutte’s policies.

BBB won a single seat in the House of Commons in 2021, but its popularity has skyrocketed due to growing mistrust of the government and anger over issues such as immigration.

In its fourth consecutive term since 2010, the Rutte government has fallen to a 20% approval rating, the lowest in a decade.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Edited by Susan Fenton and David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

Leave a Comment