Cabinet wants to ban protests in front of politicians’ homes after farmers incidents
The Cabinet will investigate whether it is possible to criminalize actions and demonstrations at the homes of politicians and administrators. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that in a debate about farmers’ protests that got out of hand over the past weeks. The D66 and PvdD, among others, are pushing for a ban.
In recent weeks, angry farmers showed up at Nitrogen Minister Christianne van der Wal’s home several times. Earlier this week, demonstrators forced their way through a police blockade to get to her house. Parliamentarians involved with the nitrogen policy or agriculture also face intimidation, including at home. Some stayed away from farmers’ protests for safety reasons.
Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz stressed that there are already many resources and possibilities to tackle these kinds of actions at politicians’ houses. For example, the mayor can institute an emergency ordinance at the home, as happened at Van der Wal’s home. The police can then search people there preventively or send people away if they have no business there.
According to the Minister, there are other options too. She mentioned the football law for tackling football riots. Those measures are not reserved for only football. The mayor can, together with the local judiciary and judges, impose restraining orders, contact bans, group bans, and reporting obligations. That can also happen preventively, Yeşilgöz said.
The D66 wants emergency ordinances to be used earlier to prevent things from getting out of hand. But according to the Minister, it is up to the mayor to make that decision. She will bring the measure to mayors’ attention again.
PvdA leader Attje Kuiken, among others, criticized Prime Minister Mark Rutte on how he is handling these increasingly chaotic protests. According to Kuiken, Rutte is too invisible while the “courageous Minister” Van der Wal “took the chestnuts out of the fire” for him. Rutte said he would consider how he could improve his role in the nitrogen crisis. Among other things, he wants to see how he can more actively propagate the policy himself.
At the same time, he contradicted that he did not react or reacted too late after the incidents. He stressed that he responded immediately after farmers showed up at Van der Wal’s home for the first time. He did not always react after other incidents, but he thinks that is what Ministers should do in the first instance. However, the demonstrations got so out of hand that he found it necessary to speak earlier this week. He also stressed that he is “intensively involved” in shaping the nitrogen policy.
In 2019, Rutte called the nitrogen crisis “the biggest crisis in my nine years as Prime Minister.” That was just after the court declared the Nitogrena Approach Program, which said that nitrogen emissions were allowed as long as they got compensated afterward, invalid. During the debate on Thursday, Rutte apologized for this program. “It turned out not to work, and if farmers are angry about that, I completely understand. So sorry for that.”
Kuiken said that the Cabinet did not develop pans or clarity for farmers after the Nitrogen Approach Program got scrapped. According to her, leadership is about preventing things from going wrong rather than reacting after they’ve gone wrong already. Kuiken asked Rutte to “urgently” take responsibility. “Not only in action but also in deed.”
Several parties, including the CDA, VVD, ChristenUnie, and BBB, insisted that the Cabinet use some form of mediation to restart the conversation with farmers. Rutte said he did not want to talk to the rioters, but he did want to talk to other farmers. So he will look into an independent mediator and make a proposal about this within a week. He also said that he does not intend to alter the objectives of the nitrogen plans.
Reporting by ANP