Arnon Grunberg



On the populist frame – Jon Henley in The Guardian:

‘A new party led by farmers fighting cuts to nitrogen emissions looks set to be the big winner in key Dutch regional elections that could severely weaken the government and, analysts suggest, herald a Europe-wide backlash against the green transition.
The BoerBurgerBeweging (Farmer-Citizen Movement, or BBB) was launched in 2019 and has just one MP, but its people-against-the-elites platform has struck a chord with disaffected voters, and polls suggest it could finish as the second-largest or even the largest party in Wednesday’s vote.
The elections matter not only because under the Dutch system they determine who sits in the senate – without whose backing bills cannot become law – but because it is provincial governments that put national government goals into action.’


‘Analysts say the movement – in the world’s second-biggest exporter of agricultural products – fits neatly into a populist frame that portrays climate action as a new form of tyranny by governments and global elites over ordinary, hard-working citizens whose legitimate concerns are largely being ignored.
“The populist focus until recently was on identity issues: immigration, the EU,” said Matthijs Rooduijn, a political scientist at the University of Amsterdam. “It has shifted to the green transition. Green issues are becoming a part of the culture wars.” Catherine Fieschi, an expert on European populism and the far right, said she was surprised that opposition to green policies had taken so long to materialise. “The green transition is such an obvious wedge issue, especially in a period of inflation and food concerns,” she said.
Farmers in Germany, France and Belgium have protested against government-enforced emissions cuts and other climate-related agriculture sector reforms in recent months, arguing that their livelihoods are being sacrificed to the green transition.
But the Netherlands was “always a bit of a harbinger of things to come elsewhere”, Fieschi noted. “The BBB’s success is a sign that a green backlash is being fomented. It could become very disruptive in several countries, especially for coalitions.”’


‘Although Rutte’s rightwing liberal VVD party looks on course to remain the largest single party in the senate, his centre-right CDA ally, traditionally the party of rural voters, is projected to see particularly heavy losses.
To pass any new legislation, the prime minister will need to win over parties to the right of the VVD, including the BBB and a small upstart national-conservative party, JA21, a breakaway from the much-diminished far-right Forum for Democracy (FvD).
Alternatively, Rutte could look to his left, where the Labour and GreenLeft parties combined are forecast to form the largest bloc of votes in the senate. Neither option, however, looks promising given the issues confronting the government.
On the environment, the right is fiercely opposed to emissions cuts, while the left has already threatened to block the government’s entire climate programme unless it goes much further, and faster, in speeding up the transition to renewables.
Another major issue, immigration and asylum, is likely to prove equally divisive. “Coalition tensions will increase,” Rooduijn said. “The VVD will be pulled right; the progressive coalition party, D66, will be pulled left. It could all get quite difficult.” With a projected 12-14% of the vote, the BBB’s success could, some analysts have suggested, mark the beginning of the end for Rutte’s 13-year premiership – and serve as a test case for what may be awaiting other European governments.’

Read the article here.

It’s my understanding that Rutte will hang on to his premiership with all his might.

Every four years or so, there is a new party that claims to be fighting against the so-called tyranny of the elites. In reality most often the status quo will be preserved after the verbal gun smoke of the debates before the elections faded away, while the victims of the verbal gun smoke are real: asylum seekers, minorities, reality.

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