Netherlands: Voter anger causes coalition losses
The Dutch show their government a yellow card. Populists profit from the anger of the peasants and the dissatisfaction of the citizens. How can Prime Minister Rutte’s coalition continue to govern?
Dutch voters gave Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government a dramatic reminder in the provincial elections. On the other hand, according to preliminary results, the new populist farmer-citizen movement BBB recorded a landslide victory. It benefited from voter dissatisfaction and immediately became the strongest political force. This emerges from the preliminary results that the TV broadcaster NOS published on Thursday night.
Politicians spoke of a political earthquake. According to observers, the election result endangers the stability of the center-right coalition of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has been in power for more than twelve years. Premier Rutte – from the right-wing liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) – was disappointed. “It’s not the win we were hoping for.”
Protest party: “We will help govern”
The BBB protest party, on the other hand, was very happy after the forecasts were published. BBB Chairwoman Caroline van der Plas spoke of a clear signal. “They can no longer ignore us. We will rule with them.”
Not only the parliaments of the twelve provinces were elected, but also indirectly the first chamber of the national parliament, comparable to the German Bundesrat. According to the forecasts in the first chamber, the four coalition parties will only have just under a third (around 30 percent) of the 75 seats. It is doubtful whether Rutte’s government will still be able to push through important laws on agricultural reform, climate protection and asylum policy. The preliminary final result was not expected until Thursday.
Farmers protest against environmental regulations
The main topic in these elections was the announced drastic environmental regulations for agriculture. Farmers in particular have been protesting for months. The anger of the peasants became an expression of a general dissatisfaction. The BBB protest movement not only grew strong in rural areas, but also in cities. She stood for the first time in the 2021 general election and received one percent of the vote. And now it came to about 19 percent according to the forecasts.
The Social Democrats and the Greens contested the election together for the first time and were able to post slight gains. The right-wing extremist Forum for Democracy, which surprisingly won the election four years ago, suffered heavy losses. Right-wing populist Geert Wilders also lost slightly.