The BoerBurgerBeweging (Farmer-Citizen Movement) shocked mainstream politics in the Netherlands by winning 15 (of 75) seats in the upper house of parliament and claiming nearly 20% of the vote in yesterday’s provincial elections. That puts the BBB on track to become the largest political party in the Dutch Senate. In doing so, the pro-farmer party has outperformed prime-minister Mark Rutte’s liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, but does not appear to have garnered enough clout to quash the ruling coalition’s plans to drastically reduce nitrogen emissions coming from farms. Still, the BBB’s phenomenal success has called into question support for the government’s environmental policies, casting doubt over its aim to slash livestock numbers, buy out and shut down as many as 3,000 farms.
But what does this victory mean? And what does the party stand for?
The BBB has now become the third-largest political force in the country. Wednesday’s elections saw the party win the most votes in at least eight of the country’s 12 provinces. Reversing the government’s approach to nitrogen emissions may become its key platform.
What are the party’s key policies?
Set up in 2019, the party traditionally has links to the farmer protest groups and rural communities who felt ignored by the Rutte government.
The party’s current leader is Caroline van der Plas, 55, a lawmaker and a former agricultural journalist who wears her trademark green nail polish and a ring featuring an upside-down Dutch flag, a symbol of the farmer protests.
The party maintains strong social media presence, detailing all of its protests and showcasing the activities of farmers.
BBB’s mission states: “Farmers cannot do without citizens, citizens cannot do without farmers. The countryside is good for roughly five to six million inhabitants of the Netherlands. Outside the four major cities, rural areas have different dynamics and lifestyles, in which neighborly assistance and joint – bottom-up – solving problems are self-evident.
BBB stands up for these residents, who do not recognize themselves in the government policy aimed at the big cities.”
The BoerBurgerBeweging vows to challenge the cabinet’s stance on the nitrogen pollution issue.
Van der Plas described the government’s proposed solution as a “kind of dogma dictated from The Hague”.
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