The Netherlands: voters punish Rutte government

In the provincial elections in the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition parties have suffered major losses while the new Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) became the strongest party in its first bid for government. Commentators see farmers’ anger over the government’s agricultural policy as well as widespread dissatisfaction as the main causes.

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

The new mouthpiece of dissatisfaction

There is a fundamental distrust in the country, says NRC:

“It is the mood of discontent, of anger with the established order, of the feeling that everything needs to be changed. The BBB has become the mouthpiece of this discontent. ... Crucial to the BBB’s advance was that it was able to link the interests of the agricultural sector to a broader dissatisfaction with the national political leadership culture. ... The dissatisfaction is now reflected in a low level of trust in politics.”

Guus Valk
De Telegraaf (NL) /

Take this warning seriously

Voters have punished the Rutte government, says De Telegraaf:

“The advance of the Farmer-Citizen Movement — or BBB — shows that this coalition is not popular among the electorate. ... The BBB has become the ultimate protest party against established interests and urban complacency. ... The pressure within the coalition will now increase. ... The room for manoeuvre is shrinking. Whether this warning from the voters will trigger a government crisis, as is being speculated, remains to be seen. Three of the four coalition parties know that they would be left far away from a seat in government if the coalition breaks up. But there is an alternative: pay attention to the people’s warning shot.”