May 26, 2024

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The Dutch “Peasant’s Party” leaves everyone speechless at the provincial elections

The Dutch “Peasant’s Party” leaves everyone speechless at the provincial elections

BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB)’s electoral victory is much larger than pollsters expected. Preliminary projections are not yet available, but the ANP news agency predicts that the party has managed to collect 19.4 percent of the vote.

According to preliminary findings, the Netherlands is – just as it was four years ago – experiencing a crushing political collapse. While the Forum for Democracy, Thierry Baudt’s party, surprisingly became the largest party in the provincial elections in 2019 with 14.9 percent of the vote, BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB) ​​is now leaving everyone speechless. The gains for a party that opts radically for the countryside are much greater than what the pollsters had predicted.

After 85 percent of the votes were counted, the party won more than 19 percent of the vote. So she can hope to win 15 of the 75 seats in the Senate.

In the province of Overijssel – the heart of the BBB – the profit is simply staggering. The party immediately gets more than 30 percent. Practically all traditional parties are being beaten. CDA is divided in half. Mark Rutte’s VVD also suffers a great loss.

Profits were expected in the eastern and northern provinces, but the BBB also scored very well in the northern Netherlands, not exactly overseas farmers. It’s probably the biggest party out there. Two other newcomers, JA21 (a breakaway from Forum) and the pro-European Volt, are doing well there. Here, too, all the traditional parties lose their money. Nothing remains of the Democracy Forum. The picture is the same in North Brabant: the BBB will certainly be the largest party with around 20 percent. “That’s not really normal,” was the first reaction of visibly bewildered BBB leader Caroline van der Plas.

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‘Common sense’

The results hit the center government parties. BBB was only founded in 2019 and mainly focus on the way Rutte IV dealt with the nitrogen problem, power shift and housing. It had to be radically different, was the message. Many Dutch people seem to agree. Many voters called the nitrogen policy the most important argument for voting for the BBB.

But the newcomer to politics is also drawing in a broader sense of unease about the way The Hague operates. People especially in the countryside feel that the bubble in The Hague has lost touch with the real problems. Many Dutch people believe that the BBB is bringing common sense back into politics. Van der Blaas speaks the language of the common man. She is the only elected member of the House of Representatives by the BBB, but has been on talk shows for the past two years.

Provinces determine the composition of the Senate. The government doesn’t already have a majority there (35 seats out of 75) and that minority is growing. According to current projections, the four government parties will still win 24 seats. Last year, the government had to seek support from GroenLinks and PvdA for its ambitious nitrogen and climate policy. There is a real chance that the “left” seats will not be enough. This means that BBB and JA21 can block this green policy. This is a nightmare, especially for a D66.

Will the government fall?

This outcome also puts the stability of the entire government under strain. Especially since the CDA loses a lot of seats to the BBB. The Christian Democrats have so far been the most reliable and natural partner of the VVD. Will it stay this way? If they want to continue with this policy, they risk eliminating it completely. Prime Minister Rutte – his VVD is still a bit off – and CDA leader Wopke Hoekstra hasn’t ruled out a government downfall during the campaign. This is already divided on many issues. Formation of Rutte IV was a very difficult handover. The four sides (VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie) were already together at Rutte III and were tired of each other. But the affected parties, of course, have no interest in new elections. The alliance was also sanctioned in provincial elections in 2015 and 2019, however Roti II and Roti III continued to rule.

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The ruling parties can only hope that the BBB, like the Forum, will quickly collapse. Although the chance of this happening is much lower. Party work is better. I deliberately skipped the municipal elections in order to carefully select the candidates for the provinces.

What is certain is that the political landscape remains very fragmented, with many parties on both sides. Only PvdA and GroenLinks intend to become a party. They will already make up a small portion in the Senate. But the extensive cooperation does not seem to result in any additional seats at the moment. PvdA makes slight gains, but GroenLinks is pulling back.