In the previous blog I wrote that interest groups around the nitrogen crisis are not very visible in the media. That has not changed for the past week. The new nitrogen law was passed by the Senate on Tuesday afternoon. In this new blog I look at how political parties express themselves on Twitter about the nitrogen crisis, especially the ‘green’ parties.

Nitrogen theme in election debates; little interference by interest groups

Last week I concluded that interest groups generate little attention around the nitrogen crisis in newspapers and on NPO 1 and RTL 4, this week little has changed. Despite the fact that the nitrogen law has been passed, the number newspaper articles mentioning an interest group is little. The interest groups are not mentioned by political parties on Twitter, with one exception; Johan Vollenbroek has been retweeted by the Party for the Animals about ‘a huge barn full of “plofkippen”.

More attention from political parties on Twitter in the run-up to elections

Twitter accounts of political parties are actively used around elections. Over the period November to early March, I collected tweets from political party accounts such as @VVD and @GroenLinks and I investigated how often the term nitrogen is mentioned (see the graphs below). The number of mentions of nitrogen increases in the election month. In December, the discussion of the nitrogen law in the House of Representatives led to a visible peak in the number of tweets. Many parties announce their opinion about the bill on Twitter, GroenLinks (with 143,000 followers) made its own bill to which the party devotes several tweets.

Twitter accounts parties CDA and VVD ignore the topic of nitrogen

The absentees in the debate are striking: the ‘farmers’ party’ CDA and the largest party VVD didn’t post any tweets about nitrogen. The left-wing, ‘green’ parties GroenLinks, the Partij voor de Dieren and D66 lead the ranking. It should be noted that four of the sixteen tweets from D66 are reactions to other Twitterers with whom the party had a conversation.

The left-wing parties share the views of environmental movements and are sharing plans to reduce nitrogen emissions, of which livestock reduction is a big part. According to GroenLinks, their agricultural plan is good for the farmers, and building houses and nature conservation are not a dilemma. D66 wants to look for a solution together with the farmers and advocates circular agriculture. The party states that, where the CDA abandons the farmers, it wants to invest in agriculture.

The three right-wing parties that tweet the most about nitrogen (FvD, JA21 and SGP) are more in line with the point of view of the farmers. FvD calls it a paper nitrogen problem, JA21 an arithmetic problem and the SGP expresses support to the farmers. The SGP does vote for the nitrogen law.

Selection Twitter accounts

The Twitter accounts of all political parties with one or more seats in the ‘Polling Guide’ have been analysed. The number between the brackets behind each party shows how many followers the account has. The period from November 1, 2020 has been investigated, in that week many draft party programs came online, so I consider it the beginning of the election period.

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