Forum for Democracy (FvD), the Dutch right-wing party led by Thierry Baudet, has gained a landslide victory in yesterday’s provincial elections in The Netherlands.
Forum for Democracy became the biggest party by winning 13 seats in the Senate (out of a total of 75). For the first time since 1917 a new party – FvD was only founded in 2016 – was able to win these elections.
Climate change was a central theme in the elections and the historic victory seems to be a clear signal that Dutch voters increasingly reject the government plans for more ambitious and more costly climate policies. Baudet strongly opposes these plans. The current government under the leadership of Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) has a very ambitious climate target of 49% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030. This goal is far more ambitious than the 40% the EU has promised under the Paris Agreement.
Last year around 100 societal stakeholders – from industry to environmental NGO’s – negotiated a climate package that would be needed to reach the 49% target. However, Baudet, whose party won two seats in Parliament in the 2017 general elections, heavily criticised the climate package, saying it was far too costly and would attain a reduction in global temperature of only 0.0003 degree Celsius by 2100. He also announced he intends to leave the Paris Agreement, just like US President Trump did shortly after he entered the White House.
Apart from the climate package an alliance of several government and opposition parties also embraced a climate law with very ambitious goals: a 95% reduction of CO2 and a 100% renewable energy target by 2050. This law passed Parliament late last year but still has to get approval in the Senate. Yesterday’s elections could become a major obstacle now the government lost it’s majority in the Senate. The FvD will likely try to block the climate law in the Senate. Critics are afraid that environmental campaigners will go to court when the law becomes legally binding, just like what happened in the famous Urgenda court case which is forcing the government’s hands.
Marcel Crok is a science writer based in Amsterdam