“We look for people who fit the BBB family feel and are authentic”. For example, party chairman Erik Stegink of the Boerburger Movement summarizes the criteria when selecting candidates for the Provincial Elections in March next year.
The party is busy with a big job: compiling lists of candidates for all provinces. Today, party leader Caroline van der Plas concluded a tour of the provinces in Zeeland for the time being; another meeting in Flevoland will follow in September. The House of Representatives (with Van der Plas as the only member) wants to see what kind of meat she has in the tub.
This is how it went this afternoon:
Finding new candidates is something that can be difficult for established parties, with numerous local departments, members and networks. For a new party, it is an even bigger challenge. BBB is on the tide, partly due to the nitrogen protest that is in line with the party‘s message and by the mediagenic MP Van der Plas.
Now that BBB scores well in the polls, there is also a chance that the party will turn out to need many candidates in the Provincial States.
BBB is fully committed to being represented in all provinces. “There is a lot to happen there in the field of nitrogen,” emphasizes Van der Plas, who points out that the States also elect the Senate. When BBB comes into it, she thinks that the cabinet cannot ignore negotiating with its party as well.
Been preparing for a long time
Van der Plas is not afraid that next March she will be surprised by the question: “What do we have on the list now?” BBB started looking for candidates last October and there has already been a shift. The party has rejected people and there are also candidates who have withdrawn themselves.
Van der Plas does not rule out that people will still lose weight between now and March. She emphasizes that the candidates have different backgrounds and come not only from the agricultural corner, but also, for example, from healthcare, education and the financial world. Former aldermen and local councillors are also included. Board member and member of the selection committee Jaspers does acknowledge that most candidates have no political experience. “That’s exciting, but everyone has to start somewhere,” he says.
The prospective members of the States have had courses and then discuss with each other by region about who should be on the list and how high. As a result, according to the party summit, they have already gained a mutual connection. But the board has control over the final screening, before the final lists are presented to the members. In this way, BBB hopes to make the teams firm and at the same time prevent major slips.
MP Henk Otten was involved in recruiting candidates for Forum for Democracy in the previous Statutory Elections. He calls that perhaps the toughest job of his working life: “You have to find and select people, but also bring them in and train them. People who can cause problems should be avoided. A new fast-growing party is also attracting many opportunists and job hunters.”
Forum became the largest in the previous State elections, but many States members and MPs then split off again, as did Otten himself who continued as the Otten Group.
He says that at Forum they showed all candidates at the training courses a video about how things went wrong at the LPF and Proud of the Netherlands, in order to make it clear what they wanted to prevent.
No people breaking the law
BBB‘s current recruitment campaign is set against a highly polarized discussion about the future of farmers in the Netherlands. Van der Plas says he does not want people on the lists who broke the law in protests. But she does not want to exclude members of the farmers’ advocacy group Farmers Defence Force, “because that is not a prohibited organization.”
BBB now thinks it has found good people for almost all provinces. The party wants at least 25 candidates per province on the list.