Veiled threat against farm minister adds to coalition talks woes

Belgian farmers cleaning up after their border road protests. Photo: Rob Engelaar ANP

More divisions have emerged between the four parties negotiating on forming a new coalition, following the spread of the European farmers’ protests to the Netherlands.

Although blockades of three main routes between the Netherlands and Belgium ended on Saturday, Dutch farmers have threaten to escalate their campaign next week. And Caroline van der Plas, leader of the pro-countryside BBB has brushed off threats made against farm minister Piet Adema by a radical farmers leader.

Van der Plas was shown footage of Mark van den Oever, leader of the Farmers Defence Force taking to reporters in front of a pile of burning tyres and pallets as he said his organisation would would meet on Tuesday to decide on a mass protest.

“One thing I do know is that Piet Adema [farm minister] and Harm Holman [an MP for the NSC] have made me spitting mad and will be at the centre of attention,” Van den Oever said.

But Van der Plas told television talk show Op1 on Friday evening that she did not consider comments to be threats. “They were tough words, but not threats,” she said. “And tough action is being taken against farmers. There is enormous anger at the moment.”

Van der Plas was first elected to parliament in 2021 on the back of farmers protests about plans to limit nitrogen emissions which had swept the country since 2019.

NSC leader Pieter Omtzigt, who campaigned in the recent elections for a “more decent” type of politics and government, said that Van der Plas should distance herself from the comments. “Veiled threats are not okay,” Omtzigt said.

And VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz, who is also acting justice minister, said on social media that farmers are helped if their concerns are taken seriously. “But endangering people, vandalism, blocking roads and the veiled threats of the FDF can not be justified or waved away,” she said. “That helps no-one. The police and justice officials are ready and prepared.”

However, Geert Wilders, leader of the far right PVV and the biggest of the four parties in the negotiations, published a photo of himself standing on a tractor with the statement “support all farmers in the Netherlands and Europe”.

The NSC is known to still have serious doubts about the right-wing alliance, just 10 days before lead negotiatior Ronald Plasterk is due to publish his report on the talks so far.

Last weekend the discussions were marred by online sneers between Wilders and Yesligöz and Wilders himself described the talks on Friday as “very tense”.

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