Farmers and Citizens Movement: Trump and Le Pen backed these Dutch farmers — now they’re causing pre-election shock


Farmers Protest Party Netherlands sparked shock after winning provincial elections this week just four years after its founding. Could their rise have broader implications?

The Citizen Farmer Movement or BoerburgerBeweging (BBB) ​​grew out of mass demonstrations against the Dutch government. environmental policy, protests in which farmers used their tractors to block public roads. The BBB will now become the largest party in the Dutch Senate.

These developments have called into question the ambitious environmental plans of the Dutch government, and the rest of Europe is following them closely.

The movement was supported by ordinary farmers, but it became an unlikely front for the culture wars. Donald Trump And Marine Le Pen have expressed support, while some on the far right see the movement as embodying their ideas that elites are using green politics to trample on the rights of individuals.

On Wednesday, the Citizen Farmers’ Movement won a major victory in regional elections, winning more seats in the Senate than Prime Minister Mark Rutteconservative party VVD.

The first exit poll showed that the party should have won 15 of the 75 seats in the Senate, with nearly 20 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, Rutte’s ruling party VVD dropped from 12 to 10 seats, leaving it without a majority in the Senate. Thursday’s results showed that the BBB party won the most votes in eight of the country’s 12 provinces.

Winning Wednesday’s election is significant as it means the party must now become the largest in the upper house of parliament, which has the power to block legislation agreed to in the lower house, calling into question the Dutch government’s environmental policy.

As the results of the election came out on Wednesday night, BBB leader Caroline van der Plas told local broadcaster Radio 1: “No one can ignore us anymore.

“Voters have spoken out very clearly against the policies of this government.”

Newspapers described this week’s election results as a “monstrous victory” for the Citizen Farmer movement, which enjoys the support of sectors of society that do not feel supported by the Rutte VVD party.

Arjan Noorlander, a political reporter from the Netherlands, said the results of this week’s provincial elections have made the country’s political future very difficult to predict. “What happens next is a big black hole,” he told CNN.

“They don’t have a majority so they will have to negotiate to form a cabinet and we have to wait and see what the consequences are.”

Tom-Jan Meeus, a journalist and political commentator based in the Netherlands, said Wednesday’s results reflect “serious dissatisfaction” with traditional politics in the country.

“This party is definitely part of that trend,” he told CNN.

“However, it’s new in that it has a different agenda than previous anti-establishment parties, but it fits into a larger picture that’s been around for 25 years.”

Mius believes that the shocking rise in support for the BBB party mainly comes from those who live in small rural villages and are disillusioned with the government’s policies.

Farmers gather in Zuider Park to protest against the government's agricultural policy to reduce nitrogen emissions in The Hague, the Netherlands, on March 11, 2023.

“Although it is a small country, there is an opinion that people living in the western, urbanized part of the country get all the benefits from public policy, and people living in the countryside in small villages believe that successful people in Amsterdam, in The Hague, in Utrecht there is a commodity, and they suffer from it.

“So it looks like less successful and less smart people are trapped by a government that doesn’t understand what their problems are.”

Norlander agrees that the main topic they’ve been talking about lately is the attitude of farmers in the Netherlands, because “pollution and environmental regulations adopted by the EU mainly in Brussels, they were against it.”

“They want farmers to have a place in the Netherlands. This is their main theme, but over the past few months it has become broader. It has become a vote of the people living in these rural areas, outside of the big cities, against the people in the big cities who are pursuing politics and becoming more international.”

The Citizen Farmers Movement was created four years ago in response to government proposals to combat nitrogen emissions.

The Dutch government has launched a campaign to halve emissions by 2030, pointing the finger at industrial agriculture due to rising levels of pollution threatening the country’s biodiversity.

The BBB party has opposed measures that include ransoming farmers and reducing livestock numbers, focusing instead on the livelihoods of farmers who are in danger of being wiped out.

Farmers protested the government’s green policy by blocking government buildings with tractors and dumping manure on highways.

Meeus believes that the BBB’s election victory this week means the nitrogen crisis program is now in “big trouble.”

“This vote is obviously a statement by a large part of the voters against this policy,” he said.

According to Ciarán O’Connor, senior analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, the BBB has built a platform behind the protest movement for its “true people” party.

The BBB, he says, “has been one of the leading forces in getting people to protest, but also shaping the ideologies and beliefs that underlie many movements; denying or challenging climate change, or at least measures that could negatively affect the livelihoods and businesses of farmers; wider EU skepticism; growing anti-immigration and anti-Islamic views.”

Former US President Donald Trump has repeatedly supported the protests during his speeches last year. At a rally in Florida last July, he told a crowd: “Farmers across the Netherlands stand up courageously against the climate tyranny of the Dutch government.”

The citizen farmer movement also received support from the extreme right.

Report of the International Center for Combating Terrorism describes how what began as local protests caught the attention of extremists and conspirators, seeing it in particular as evidence of a so-called The Great Reset Theory. global elites using the masses to their advantage.

According to O’Connor, the movement is in line with the populist view of climate change as a new form of tyranny imposed by out-of-world governments on ordinary citizens.

“One of the tactics used by the Dutch farmers’ protest movement was to use tractors to create blockades. International interest in the farmer protest movement and this method of protest really grew in 2022, shortly after the Canadian trucker convoy, which was organized and promoted by a number of far-right figures in Canada, the US and internationally,” he said. said.

“For many on the far right, this movement was seen as the next iteration of the escort protest, and they saw it as a popular protest mobilizing against tyrannical or out-of-world governments.”

However, some analysts believe that the far-right is premature in reporting protests in the Netherlands.

“I wasn’t very impressed,” Mius said. “In general, the perception of the problem that was in the minds of the ultra-right people from Canada and the United States was quite distant, as far as I could see.

“It remains to be seen if the Citizen Farmers’ Movement will represent a far-right party.”