opinion | Why Dutch farmers turn their flag upside down

Food and energy prices here, as in the rest of Europe, have risen since the start of the war in Ukraine. inflation last year over 11 percent. The battle with the peasants was the last in a series legal battles that had led the Dutch government to limit the number of flights from the country largest airport and lower the speed limits on highways. When the government insisted on making another unpopular environmental policy a priority at a time when many people were struggling to pay their bills, it created a space that the BBB quickly filled.

For many Dutch farmers, the struggle is not ideological, and the BBB has emerged as the voice of rural interests against an urban elite that cannot tell a Hereford from a Holstein. “People in the Netherlands work very hard, want an affordable life and just want to drink a beer together at the weekend,” says former journalist Caroline van der Plas of the party. a recent campaign video.

The party has opposed described as far rightbut some on the right thought they recognized fellow travelers: Last summer, Donald Trump told a meeting in Florida that the farmers are “bravely resisting the climate tyranny of the Dutch government”. Also Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Rally tweeted her support. Poland’s Agriculture Minister, a member of the ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party, met with the farmers in Warsaw and supported their cause.

After the elections, Rutte reportedly canceled a weekly lunch with his deputies break bread with the BBB. The government spent much of the crisis talks last week over whether emissions plans should be watered down or suspended.

For Europe, the backlash may be just beginning. Farmers from the North Flanders region of Belgium a few weeks ago blocked the center of Brussels with tractors to protest a regional plan to reduce emissions. “Proud to be a farmer,” it read one of the signs.

Ben Coates (@bencoates1) is a columnist for Algemeen Dagblad and author of ‘Why the Dutch Are Different’.

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