BBB projected to win 17 senate seats, CDA coalition support strained
The farmers’ party BBB could take 17 seats in the new senate while the coalition quartet would not have enough support from the left-wing alliance of Labour (PvdA) and GroenLinks to secure a majority, according to latest projections.
The revised forecast, based on provincial election results, gives the BBB an extra seat while coalition party D66 would win five seats rather than six, giving the cabinet a total of 22.
The PvdA and GL are still on course to win 15, but that would leave the government needing the support of at least one other party if it wants to pass its legislation through the upper house without depending on the BBB.
Senators will be elected in May by an electoral college made up of all the provincial deputies, with the votes weighted to reflect each province’s population size. Delegates usually vote along party lines, but this is not obligatory.
More significant could be the destination of the two or three ‘remainder seats’ left over after each the threshold for each party has been reached.
The Christian Democrats (CDA), whose vote share was almost halved in last Wednesday’s elections to less than 7%, are holding a crisis meeting on Tuesday where the leadership is likely to come under pressure to water down the government’s plans to reduce the size of the farming industry.
Hoekstra under fire
Party leader Wopke Hoekstra was criticised by provincial leaders in an online seminar last Friday, with some delegates saying his position and the CDA’s support for the coalition were up for discussion.
‘Those are certainly issues we will be addressing on Tuesday,’ Harold Schroeder, chair of the CDA’s Limburg branch, told the Telegraaf.
‘I conveyed my disappointment and sadness about the election result. Regional candidates have worked extremely hard but without results.’
Hoekstra last week said it could no longer be ‘business as usual’ in response to the BBB’s breakthrough, which made it the largest party in every provincial assembly.
The CDA has traditionally enjoyed strong support in rural areas, but large numbers of its voters defected to the BBB in protest at proposals to buy out farmers in order to meet European limits on nitrogen pollution.
Hoekstra said last autumn that he did not regard the deadline of 2030 to cut nitrogen compound emissions by half, which would require around 11,000 farms to be bought out, as ‘sacred’.
CDA housing minister Hugo de Jonge, whose plans for a national house building programme also depend on nitrogen pollution being cut so that provinces can issue building permits again, said: ‘We need to consider what’s really necessary in a number of policy areas.’
Agriculture minister Piet Adema, from the ChristenUnie party, which also draws its support from provincial voters, said: ‘It’s clear to me that the Netherlands has expressed a demand for more perspective for farmers.’
The economic planning agency PBL has said compulsory purchases are the only way to reach the target, but the BBB has said it will block any measures to force farmers to sell up.
The Council of State ruled in 2019 that the government was obliged to comply with European restrictions on nitrogen compound emissions to protect conservation areas known as Natura 2000 zones.
The government has given the provinces a deadline of July 1 to come up with detailed plans to reduce emissions to below the limit in 74% of designated areas by 2030.
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