Agricultural protest group wins unexpectedly in Dutch elections.March 16, 2023
The Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) is set to dominate the Netherlands' upper house of parliament after it secured 15 senate seats in provincial elections. The party was established in 2019 as a riposte to Prime Minister Mark Rutte's conservative VVD party, which sought to fall in line with European Union regulations on nitrogen emissions by significantly decreasing livestock numbers and buying out thousands of farms. BBB argued that the suggested solutions are unfairly stacked against farmers, and has led to the closure of farms and a downturn in food production. It expressed an anti-EU and anti-immigration stance ahead of its election success, which political commentator Ben Coates described as "something of an earthquake in Dutch politics." Rutte's VVD party dropped from 12 to 10 senate seats following the vote in what is a major blow for the Dutch coalition government, whose approval rating has sunk to 20%. The two left-leaning parties with which it often appeals to, Labour and GreenLeft, look set to hold their senate seats in line with BBB's new total, potentially offering an opportunity for Rutte to garner enough support for policies despite BBB opposition.