The pro farmers party BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB) is likely to emerge as the big winner in Wednesday’s provincial elections and is on target to take around 12.4% of the vote, according to calculations based on the most recent opinion polls by I&O Research and Ipsos/EenVandaag.
That would put the party, led by Caroline van der Plas, in second place in the polls, behind Mark Rutte’s VVD which is likely to remain the biggest with almost 15% support.
However, the combination of the left-wing greens GroenLinks, on 10%, and the PvdA, on just over 7% would form the biggest group in the senate, or upper house of parliament, when provincial councils elect the 75-seat chamber in May.
The two parties are campaigning separately in the provinces but have pledged to form one party in the upper house of parliament.
Political scientist Tom Louwerse, who did the calculations, points out that the two polls are far apart in their forecasts and should be seen as a reflection of a particular moment in time.
‘The I&O research showed that almost 25% of voters don’t know who to vote for yet,’ he told broadcaster NOS. ‘And then there are questions about how many people will turn up to vote.’
Nevertheless, BBB is poised to be the biggest party in Drenthe, Gelderland, Overijssel, Groningen and Friesland, while the CDA, traditionally the party of the countryside, faces a hammering.
However, CDA voters tend to be older and big on voting, which will benefit the party if the turnout is low.
Geert Wilder’s far right PVV is also likely to make gains. It lost supporters to Forum voor Democratie in 2019, and support for the FvD has collapsed since then. Again, turnout will be crucial but FvD, which won 14.5% of the vote last time round, is now on target to take just 3%.
JA21 and Volt are both likely to debut in the senate, with 5% and 4% support respectively.
Whatever the outcome, the current coalition government will not have majority support in the senate and will have to rely on opposition support to get controversial legislation onto the statute books.
Until now Rutte has relied on the PvdA GroenLinks block but the far right may also emerge as an alternative, putting further pressure on the coalition which is already divided on migration and tackling nitrogen pollution, according to NOS commentator Zander van der Wulp.
Voting in the provincial elections takes place on Wednesday and is only open to Dutch nationals. Everyone who was resident in the Netherlands in January can vote for the water boards.
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