VVD and CDA in provinces defy national line with resistance to nitrogen policy

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Dozens of farmers at a protest at the Groningen provincial house in January of this year
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In a large number of provinces, coalition parties CDA and VVD tell voters that they want to oppose the national nitrogen policy. This is apparent from an analysis of the statements in the Kieskompas.

Eight provincial CDA departments and five provincial VVD departments opt for a statement in the Kieskompas that shows that they will “oppose the national policy to protect farmers”. Because the CDA and VVD are part of the cabinet, the national nitrogen policy is partly determined by those parties.

When completing the Kieskompas, users can indicate whether they agree with certain statements, in order to see which party corresponds to that point of view. The VVD and CDA in Drenthe, Overijssel, Limburg and Zeeland answer in the affirmative to the statement that “provinces must resist to better protect farmers”.

The CDA departments in South Holland, North Holland, Groningen and Flevoland also agree with opposition to national policy. The VVD also concerns Friesland, in addition to the aforementioned provinces. All in all, in nine of the twelve provinces at least one government party is against the national nitrogen policy.

In Overijssel, both CDA and VVD say that farmers must be protected and the province must oppose national policy:

In Overijssel, VVD and CDA say they agree with opposition to the national nitrogen policy

The statements also show that CDA and VVD say in almost all provinces that farmers should not be forced to buy out. The ruling party ChristenUnie also has this opinion in some provinces. The government is considering this remedy if voluntary quitting is not sufficient.

According to Jeroen van Lindert, project manager at Kieskompas, all provincial parties have been approached to assess the propositions. Party standpoints are therefore not interpreted or translated into propositions by the editors of Kieskompas. The parties themselves choose their answer to the statement.

Van Lindert points to the extra information that visitors to the site can find with the positions by clicking on the logo of a party. It contains earlier statements by provincial politicians or additional explanations can be found, originating from an election programme.

Van Lindert does not find it misleading that this is in some cases nuanced compared to a party’s initial position. “I would rather call it interesting. This way voters can clearly see the differences.”

‘Not misleading’

The Overijssel CDA party leader Rick Brink tells NOS that he sees no light between the national CDA position and that in Overijssel. He also contradicts that the Overijssel choice for the statement would be misleading or confusing for voters.

According to Brink, the choice for “resistance” to the national policy was chosen because the national government is currently “not delivering and the prospects for farmers are not forthcoming”. Brink: “We would like to get started here in the province, but there must first be clarity from The Hague.” He thinks that everyone in Overijssel “understands what we mean”.

In some provinces, including Brabant and Gelderland, CDA and VVD say they do not want to oppose national policy. “We will all have to emit less nitrogen and we will have to use our water more economically. These changes take time and require change,” says CDA Gelderland in an explanation of the nitrogen statement in the Kieskompas.

Struggle

The national CDA party board says in a response that it is the “responsibility of the provincial departments for what is entered in the voting guides”. The national party says it sees the struggle of provinces that “would like to reduce nitrogen but to this day are not given the tools to actually do so”.

A spokesperson says he cannot comment on the choice of the word “oppose”, because the CDA is not responsible for the statements.

The VVD faction in the House of Representatives emphasizes in a response that the local and provincial branches of the party “are not being dictated to”. The VVD points out that it has always advocated an area-oriented approach: “The situation is different in every province. It is logical that Zeeland, with a lot of arable farming and shipping, views the nitrogen plans differently than, for example, Gelderland, with the largest nature reserve in our country. , or Limburg, with a relatively large amount of nitrogen deposition from abroad.”

D66 MP De Groot finds it “extremely worrying” that in many provinces CDA and VVD want to oppose the national nitrogen policy. “The cabinet is committed to progress to save nature and to ensure that housing construction gets going again.” According to De Groot, CDA and VVD actually support JA21 and BBB in a number of provinces.

‘You don’t see nuances in yes or no’

VVD Minister Van der Wal for Nature and Nitrogen responds laconically to the positions of CDA and VVD in the Kieskompas. “I think such a selection guide is very black and white. It is yes or no. And actually the entire nitrogen approach is much more nuanced. You don’t see those nuances in such a yes or no answer. Everyone has really benefit from nature restoration, if only to be able to grant permits and legalize PAS reporters.”

The minister does understand the concerns in the provinces. “It is a very big task, for which we have until 2030 and for which a number of things are still unclear.” Van der Wal does think that provinces that really start to resist have a problem. “Because then you do not comply with the legal assignment to deliver an area program on July 1.”

The House of Representatives is debating nitrogen policy today. That debate can be followed live via NPO Politics and News.

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