Rural protest groups in the Netherlands

D. Strijker*, I.J. Terluin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter examines whether a shift in the orientation of farmers' groups in the Netherlands has occurred, from sector-specific interests to a focus on the defence of rural identity. Attention is also paid to the question of whether rural protest groups have evolved into political parties. The chapter distinguishes four types of rural protest group found in the Netherlands in the postwar period. The first are the anti-modernist farmers, known as the Free Farmers, who were dissatisfied with continuing government regulation of the agricultural sector and who strongly opposed agricultural modernisation policy. The second group were action-oriented farmers, who challenged the existing farmers' unions, arguing that the official organisations were too soft and too much involved with government. They aimed at strict production controls and higher agricultural prices. The third group, progressive farmers' coalitions, had deep concerns about the environmental consequences of agricultural practices and the impact of the CAP on farmers in less developed parts of the world. The fourth group consists of non-farmers' coalitions, including both rural and urban residents who wished to conserve those aspects of the countryside which represented their specific interests. Protests by these coalitions concerned issues such as biodiversity, national nature conservation areas, high-speed railways, wind farms and mega farms for intensive husbandry. The chapter concludes, firstly, that the clear shift in the orientation of rural protest groups from sector-specific interests to a focus on the defence of rural identity which took place in the UK, France and the USA is only partially reflected in the Netherlands. To a certain extent this can be explained by the fact that the Dutch rural space has always been close to urban centres; the rural has never been isolated. Secondly, the chapter also finds that the Free Farmers are the only group among the protest groups discussed that evolved into a political party: the Farmers' Party. The main reason for this was that their position was not represented by any of the existing political parties in parliament. Other protest groups, in particular the direct action-oriented farmers and the progressive farmers' coalitions, appeared to be more successful in achieving their aims through existing political parties.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRural Protest Groups and Populist Political Parties
EditorsD. Strijker, G. Voerman, I. Terluin
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9789086868070
ISBN (Print)9789086862597
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2015


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