Protests in times of campaign: to use or not to use?
Polls are just polls, right? But a landslide victory in the Dutch political landscape seems to be imminent. In the national poll for the regional elections, the farmers’ party (BoerBurgerBeweging) seems to be the largest party in the country shared with the liberal VVD. At the same time, there is a lot going on in Dutch society: farmers protesting against the new nitrogen laws and on the other hand protests organised by Extinction Rebellion who consider the government’s approach to nitrogen too soft. What is the relationship between these phenomena and how do political parties utilise them?
In fact, no one expected that the farmers’ party would win a seat in Parliament. Thanks to an innovative and effective campaign, they managed to get one, almost entirely through rural support. The party is now bigger and even receives support from major cities such as Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. For many people, it is a protest vote. The farmers’ party is led by Caroline van der Plas, who does not dress like other party leaders and stays away from bureaucratic jargon, which attracts people from all over the country. Since her arrival in Parliament, she has given a face to the farmers’ protests that are going on in the country. Severe reforms and even forced buy-outs of farmers are part of the government’s plan to comply with the new nitrogen rules. Caroline van der Plas and her party are the face of these counter-actions. Not only in Parliament but also in talk shows and on the internet.