The elections for the Provincial Council and waterboards of 2023 showed a surprising result: the absolute victory of the BoerBurgerBeweging party, obtaining the majority of the votes in all of the 12 Dutch provinces.
The BoerBurgerBeweging party, roughly translating to the ‘’FarmerCitizenMovement’’ party, is a relatively new political player that is concerned with the agricultural sector and liveability in the countryside. In South Holland, it placed first, followed by the VVD, GroenLinks, and SGP.
The current nitrogen policy - tied to European Nature Restoration Law and led by the Fourth Rutte Cabinet - has been met with scepticism by a significant proportion of Dutch people, particularly farmers. The government’s ambitions to reduce nitrogen levels by scaling down the size of the agricultural sector clashes with the interests of farmers.
BBB finds the Cabinet’s plan to cut emissions by half by 2030 not feasible and argues that it leaves too little breathing room for the economic players.
The result of the provincial elections is seen as a big hit against the standing coalition party under Rutte – VVD, D66, CDA, and Christenunie – which started out fractured on the nitrogen issue but finally seemed to get the ball rolling.
According to the news network NOS, general discontent with the current Cabinet of the Netherlands also seems to have been a driving force behind the election results. Political correspondent, Arjan Noorlander from Nieuwsuur (news program), said that ‘’all the coalition parties have been slaughtered’’ and that it will be interesting to see how the Cabinet will manoeuvre its way through environmental concerns and what the people want.
Importance of Dutch Provincial Elections
Every four years, Dutch citizens vote on representatives from a political party to become part of the Provinciale Staten (Provincial States) - the provincial parliament and legislative assembly of each Dutch province. The Provinciale Staten consists of members from all provinces, each province has a number of seats depending on its population. For instance, Zeeland has 39 and Zuid Holland has 55 members of parliament.
The provincial elections are important for Dutch people as it concerns provincial matters such as building new houses, windmill parks, and infrastructure, among others.
Additionally, the Dutch vote indirectly for the members of de Eerste Kamer (the Senate) given that the Provinciale Staten chooses the senators of de Eerste Kamer – the people responsible for approving and rejecting legislative proposals.