The Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) in the Netherlands has put forward its primary candidate for the upcoming elections alongside its choice for prime minister and other names.
BBB leader Caroline van der Plas will be number one on the list as she is seen as the most popular, but she is not the party’s candidate to be the next prime minister.
That will be Mona Keijzer, who was until recently a member of the Christian Democrat CDA party. Keijzer was Secretary of State between 2017 and 2021 but was pushed out of the government because she criticised its COVID-19 policy.
Another interesting name joining the ranks of the BBB is Derk Jan Eppink, a Dutch politician who has been a member of a number of political parties on the Right but who is also well known in Brussels for his career in the European Union’s top bodies.
Eppink worked for seven years as a senior official at the European Commission. He wrote a well-received book called Life of a European Mandarin: Inside the Commission about his time there, in which he revealed what happened behind the scenes.
In 2009, he was elected to the European Parliament for the Belgian party List Dedecker (ECR). In July 2019, he was elected a member of the European Parliament for the Dutch right-wing party Forum for Democracy (FvD). After that party fell apart, Eppink joined up with the JA21 party. On March 31, 2021, he exchanged his seat in the European Parliament for a seat in the Dutch Parliament.
Other notable names now within the Farmer-Citizen Movement’s list are Lilian Helder, who comes from the PVV party of Geert Wilders, and Nicky Pouw-Verweij who, like Eppink, came from FvD and JA21.
The transfers also mean that the BBB’s seats in parliament have increased from one to four ahead of the national elections.
An outsider joining the farmers’ party is Lieutenant Colonel Gijs Tuinman, an officer in the Royal Netherlands Army. He is one of the three living Knights of the Military Order of William, the oldest and highest order of chivalry in the Netherlands. He also received the Bronze Lion, the second-highest military decoration, awarded by Queen Beatrix.
Van der Plas wants to continue leading the BBB from the Dutch Parliament, saying she considers it “the most beautiful work I’ve ever done” and has no desire to have to wear formal clothes and travel around the world as prime minister.
“Then I have to wear heels, even though I can’t walk in heels at all,” she told De Telegraaf.
A similar sentiment regarding leading the nation is shared by her competitor, Pieter Omtzight, who said he doesn’t plan to become prime minister, despite scoring well in the latest polls.
The BBB earned one seat in Parliament in 2021. After Dutch farmers encountered problems regarding strict nitrogen laws, the party rose in popularity. In the Provincial States elections in March, the party obtained 16 seats in the Senate, becoming the largest party in the Netherlands.
JA21-Kamerleden Nicki Pouw-Verweij (32) uit Maarssen, Derk-Jan Eppink (65) uit Den Haag én PVV-Kamerlid Lilian Helder (50) uit Venlo, sluiten zich per direct aan bij BBB. BoerBurgerBeweging start hiermee het nieuwe parlementaire jaar (5 september 2023), met 4 zetels in de Tweede… pic.twitter.com/vHXwykHusb
— BBB BoerBurgerBeweging 🍀🍀🍀 (@BoerBurgerB) September 1, 2023