Swearing in of the new members of parliament in Assen.  In the photo the BBB fraction.  Image Harry Cock / de Volkskrant

Swearing in of the new members of parliament in Assen. In the photo the BBB fraction.Image Harry Cock / de Volkskrant

The explorers are only still active in Overijssel and North Brabant. In the other ten provinces, the coalitions that the BBB is trying to forge appear to be very divergent. About the links with PvdA and GroenLinks in Utrecht, South Holland and North Holland. On the right in Zeeland with the GSP and JA21, and in Flevoland even the PVV can participate. As for the text, the BBB parliamentary chairs emphasize that they do not exclude anyone, want an ‘open and transparent’ formation and are committed to a ‘draft coalition agreement’, not a ‘pencil work’.

One constant: Despite a considerable loss, the Hague coalition parties VVD (eight times) and CDA (seven times) are the preferred partners of the BBB almost everywhere. Many provincial VVD and CDA factions have already distanced themselves from the national nitrogen policy. Drenthe scout Astrid Nienhuis noted on Friday that the CDA and VVD in Drenthe are sufficiently opposed to national politics and are therefore “not equivalent to their parties in The Hague.” Provincial coalition agreements in which those parties lay out their opposition to buyouts and a 2030 target year could serve as leverage for the BBB in The Hague to break the coalition.

About the authors
Maarten Albers is a general reporter for de Volkskrant. Jurre van den Berg is a regional reporter for de Volkskrant in the north of the Netherlands, reporting on developments in the provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe.

D66, the polar opposite of the BBB in the nitrogen debate in The Hague, only appears in Utrecht as a possible coalition partner. The chairman of the BBB party, Hans Veentjer, also doesn’t think it will happen to the social liberals in South Holland. “They’re very focused on that 2030,” he says, referring to the deadline the government is still using for the proposed nitrogen reduction. He will work with GroenLinks and PvdA, who are equally willing to meet that date.

democratic courtesy

The fact that the scouts in many provinces have done their work certainly does not mean that new lectures will be presented in many provincial houses before Pentecost. Sometimes it’s just democratic courtesy to let the big winners smell each other, to experience firsthand that the differences are irreconcilable.

In Flevoland there is great discomfort among supporters of the Christian Union over a possible alliance with the PVV. And in Friesland, the PvdA was already getting the wind from the head: what should a party that had promised to fight for clean water and good nature do with the BBB now, D66 wondered.

There is also little to say about the course that the provinces will choose under the future patronage of the BBB. The 2030 target year to halve nitrogen emissions and expropriate farmers – a proposed national policy – had already been declared taboo before the election. Sticking to this won’t go down very well for GroenLinks and PvdA. In The Hague, VVD and D66 hope that the left parties will keep their backs straight.

‘impossible clamp’

Several scouts noted that many provincial factions don’t feel much about 2030 and the forced buyout. Friesland informant Chris Stoffer even warned of an ‘impossible clamp’.

It bodes further strain on the relationship between The Hague and provincial governments. In Drenthe, the BBB is already showing its teeth. Next Wednesday, the faction wants to present a motion in the Provincial Council to suspend the provincial nitrogen policy, while the formation is in operation. The deadline for the provincial nitrogen plan (July 1) will not be met in Assen, BBB foreman Gert-Jan Schuinder has already announced.

The vote will be a litmus test for the planned cooperation partners CDA, VVD and PvdA. The latter two in particular are being put on the bloc: they will have to deviate from their national party line to express their political love for the BBB. In any case, little has come of the ‘acceleration’ in the nitrogen approach promised by the cabinet now that the coalition has left the initiative to the provinces, while the BBB appears to be in no rush.