Netherlands experiences massive peasant movement victory in provincial elections

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The Dutch government’s plans to reduce nitrogen emissions have faced staunch opposition from farmers, leading to the rise of a young political party, the Movimiento Campesino-Ciudadano (BBB) party. The party has vowed to give voice to farmers’ revolt against the government’s environmental plans, which include a reduction in livestock farming and expropriations near protected natural areas. The BBB party is expected to win the largest number of seats in the Upper House of the Dutch Parliament, mounting on a wave of protests from the agricultural sector. The party is on track to win 15 of the 75 Senate seats, ahead of the center-right VVD party, in power since 2010. This could mean that the BBB party would join forces with other political parties in the Senate to oppose the plans of Rutte’s four-party coalition, which will lose eight seats to 24 overall.

In recent months, Dutch farmers have blocked highways, protested outside the homes of politicians, and demonstrated on their tractors by the thousands. Their anger garnered support from populists across the border, including former US President Donald Trump. The government wants to cut emissions of nitrogen, a greenhouse gas emitted from fertilizers and livestock manure, by 50% by 2030 to solve the housing crisis in the Netherlands, where large construction projects, which also emit nitrogen, have been suspended by the courts on environmental grounds. The Hague wants to contribute €25 billion by 2035 to help the agricultural sector reduce its nitrogen emissions. But the sector claims that the government unfairly targets it, compared to other sectors such as industry and transport.

In the Netherlands, the farmers have the support of a part of the population, and upside-down Dutch flags, which have become symbols of their protest, have flourished throughout the small country of nearly 18 million people. The far right had seized the issue, claiming that the farmers were the victims of a “globalist” plot to dispossess them of their land. The populist Forum for Democracy (FvD) party, the big winner of the last provincial elections in 2019, still suffered a setback, falling from 12 seats to 2 seats according to early results.

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