Sun, 02 Apr 2023

THE HAGUE, March 15 (Xinhua) -- The first exit poll for the Dutch provincial elections on Wednesday indicated a major win for the new political force Farmer-Citizen Movement, known by its Dutch acronym BBB, making expectations even higher for the rest of the country.

The BBB debuted in the elections for the 12 provincial councils with a predicted 14.3 percent of the votes in the western province of North Holland and 31.3 in the eastern province of Overijssel, which made the farmers' party the biggest party in both provinces.

"I never expected this," BBB leader Caroline van der Plas said in a first reaction to national broadcaster NOS. "The biggest party of them all. Incredible."

The right wing populist Forum for Democracy (FvD) party was the biggest loser, according to the exit poll in both provinces. The People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) of Prime Minister Mark Rutte suffered a minor loss, while Democrats 66, which is also in the four-party coalition government, suffered a significant loss.

The nitrogen crisis was one of the main themes in the pre-election campaigns. The farmers do not agree with the planned nitrogen reduction policy of the government and have been protesting for over a year.

The BBB represents the anger of the farmers, and according to the first exit polls, the support for the farmers is huge and the votes for the BBB can be considered as a protest vote against the government.

Although the Dutch vote for the members of the 12 provincial councils and 21 water authorities, they indirectly also elect a new senate, because the members of the provincial councils will choose the composition of the senate on May 30 this year.

The political balance in the new senate will therefore be of great importance for the political power of the current government coalition. A majority in the senate is crucial for passing new laws, because for law-making in the Netherlands a majority is needed in both the house of representatives and the senate.

As the current coalition government of VVD, Democrats 66 and the Christian parties CDA and CU already lacks a majority in the senate, a loss of votes will weaken the position of the government.

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