James Jay Carafano
The Dutch government faces a no-confidence vote over plans to cut nitrogen emissions on farms, three weeks after being beaten in provincial elections by a farmers’ protest party opposed to such cuts.
Will the government fall? We asked ace expert Dan Kochis.
What’s the bottom line? Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s governing coalition is expected to survive by a slim majority.
Why do you think that? The governing coalition has been on the verge of collapse seemingly for the past several years but Rutte is a resilient leader and always finds a way to muddle through.
That said, the government is extremely unpopular (at 20%) and lost a provincial election to an upstart farmers protest party which is trigging the no contest vote.
While the government may survive, its troubles are far from over. The nitrogen emissions cuts (some forced by courts) are really hurting agriculture industry particularly small farmers who can’t absorb the cost as well, and have crippled construction in the country as courts are blocking new permits until more nitrogen cuts are made and more land preserved.
Is this just a farmer problem? This political instability is solely about domestic issues. The government has been very strong on supporting Ukraine. That is not what is costing coalition political support. The Dutch, as a whole, have been increasingly pro-NATO, looking to reverse over a decade of consistent decline in military capability. In 2022, the Dutch spent 1.65 GDP on defense, but they announced ambitious plans for 2023 including purchasing between 2023 and 2026 a rocket artillery system and 10 howitzers as well as a new mobile air defense system. The government’s stated goal is to hit two percent by 2025. Per capita, that would make the Netherlands the largest military spender in the European Union.
What’s Next? This is consistent in what we are seeing elsewhere in Europe. The governments embracing the most radical domestic agendas are also the ones struggling the most. Rutte is stubbornly sticking to a radical green program, this will likely eventually kill the coalition.