Dutch farmers-led party could be big winner in provincial elections

Dutch farmers-led party

AROUND 13 million Dutch citizens are being called upon to elect the parliaments of their 12 provinces on Wednesday in a vote that could destabilise Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government and provide a major boost to a farmers-led party.

The election will also indirectly determine the composition of the Senate, or upper house, of the national parliament.

According to opinion polls, Rutte’s centre-right coalition is predicted to suffer major losses, while the fortunes of parties farther to the right are expected to rise.

Consequently, the election result could decide the future of the current coalition.

Politicians do not rule out a government crisis if the coalition loses significant support in the Senate.

Rutte has been prime minister since 2010.

At the local level, the provinces decide on road construction and transport policy, as well as environmental protection and housing construction.

One of the main issues in the election campaign has been the intense backlash among farmers over the government’s proposed environment regulations to cut nitrogen emission levels.

The populist party BoerBurgerBeweging (Farmer-Citizen Movement), or BBB, rejects these plans and could be the big winner of the election.

Last weekend, thousands of farmers protested in The Hague.

At the same time, climate activists staged protests and blocked a major road in the city, calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies.

Polling stations open at 7:30 am (0630 GMT).

First forecasts are expected after they close at 9 pm. (dpa/NAN)