Talks to form a provincial government in Noord-Brabant have restarted without the largest party, the BBB, after it was unable to agree a deal with coalition partners.
The BBB won 20% of the vote in the provincial elections, enough to claim 11 seats, but negotiations to form a broad-based coalition with the right-wing liberal VVD, Labour (PvdA) and GroenLinks broke down two weeks ago.
Other parties were unprepared to meet the BBB’s demands in policy areas such as nature, agriculture and water management. One sticking point was a deadline for farmers to modernise their cattle sheds to make them more sustainable, which the BBB wanted to push back from the start of 2024.
Local VVD chairman Martijn van Gruijthuijsen told a debate in the provincial assembly on Friday that his party no longer had confidence in the BBB. His party, which has nine seats, will now try to form an administration with PvdA, GroenLinks, D66, the Socialists (SP) and Lokaal Brabant.
The BBB’s provincial assembly leader John Frenken said he took responsibility for the failure of the coalition talks. “The other parties couldn’t support our amendments, so we pulled the plug on the negotiations,” he said.
Noord-Brabant is one of the key provinces for the government’s hopes of reducing nitrogen compound emissions, with around 9% of the so-called “peak polluters” who are being offered 120% of the value of their business if they agree to stop.
In March the provincial government announced a halt to all large-scale building projects because of the fragile state of Natura-2000 conservation zones, which must be protected from nitrogen pollution by law.
Elsewhere, Groningen became the sixth of the 12 provinces to finalise its coalition, as the BBB agreed an outline deal with the PvdA, ChristenUnie and local party Groninger Belang. The coalition agreement will be formally presented on Thursday.
The BBB has appointed Susan Top, the former secretary of the Groningen gas council (Groninger Gasberaad), a lobby group representing the victims of earthquakes caused by gas drilling, to take charge of the gas portfolio.
Talks in Noord-Holland are in the final stages, with BBB, VVD, PvdA and GroenLinks reported to be on the brink of agreeing a coalition. The same four parties have also agreed to form a government in Zuid-Holland with the addition of the Christian Democrats (CDA).
GroenLinks have also agreed to join a BBB-led coalition in Overijssel, where the farmers’ party won its most resounding victory in March, with 31% of the vote and 17 seats. The second largest party in the province, the VVD, holds four.
In Friesland the PvdA pulled out of the talks at the last minute because it was unwilling to agree to budget cuts on culture and nature. The BBB is now trying to restart talks with the CDA, ChristenUnie, VVD and Frisian National Party (FNP).
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