Dutch democracy slips into darkness; MP Thierry Baudet suspended
MICHEL VAN DER KEMP
A majority of the Dutch House of Representatives voted in favor of the suspension of Thierry Baudet, leader of Forum for Democracy (FvD) and Member of Parliament on Tuesday. Baudet is not allowed to speak for a week because ‘he did not adhere to the rules drawn up by the House for dealing with side activities’.
The suspension was proposed by the lower parliamentary house’s Integrity Investigation Board. This board was established on April 1st, 2021 in order to handle ‘complaints about violations of the code of conduct for MPs’. Baudet had refused to disclose his membership as board member of the “Amsterdam Media Group BV”.
In a roll-call vote, 119 MPs voted in favor of the proposal to suspend Baudet, two MPs voted against. The MPs from FvD and PVV (better known as Geert Wilders’ party) walked out of the parliamentary chamber during the vote.
Before the vote, Geert Wilders called the decision a “historic mistake” on the basis of a committee the House themselves appointed. In a later statement Wilders’ added that his group “did not want to cross this bridge”.
Baudet himself responded by saying that the rules are being used to silence MPs. It’s a “matter of principle”, he said. Baudet’s membership as a board member of the Amsterdam Media Group is not exactly a secret. The House of Commerce has Baudet registered as board member, which can also be seen here. Amsterdam Media Group has published Baudet’s latest book, and the group publishes political material that dissents from the mainstream narrative.
Forum for Democracy has called the suspension an ‘attack on democracy‘. They point to a larger trend of censorship. MP Gideon van Meijeren was forbidden to speak last year when he compared the corona-measures to the exclusion of Jews in the 1930s. Just two weeks ago the complete cabinet walked out of the House of Representatives when Baudet pointed out that minister Sigrid Kaag was a student of St. Antony’s College in Oxford, which, according to Baudet, was a breeding ground for spies.
The statement of FvD continues:
“Democracy is a precarious system. We know from history that people are by nature not always inclined to give space to dissenting votes. In countless places in the world dissenters are persecuted, expelled or worse. Tolerance does not come naturally – and even always hurts a little. That makes sense. Resistance, opposition: it can be damn annoying.
And because our constitutional legislator knew this, in his wisdom MPs were given maximum freedom in the interpretation of their office. They enjoy immunity for their statements in parliament, which means as much as: you can say anything — even things that are very displeasing to power, the government. In addition, the interpretation they give to their position cannot be judged or sanctioned by anyone or anything. Also logical: because a Member of Parliament controls power and is therefore, by definition, a target of that power.”
That the downward trend of political discourse in The Netherlands is continuing became clear just a few hours after Baudet’s suspension. In the senate Marjolein Faber (PVV) was removed from the floor because the chairman felt that she had insulted PM Mark Rutte. And so the Dutch democracy slides down.
Baudet is the first politician in Dutch history to receive a suspension.
Baudet: Damage is beyond repair, I’m afraid
Peter Vlemmix: Suspension @thierrybaudet is a week. Damage to parliamentary democracy is permanent.
Schade is onherstelbaar, vrees ik. https://t.co/qA6j8WviQ1
— Thierry Baudet (@thierrybaudet) October 18, 2022
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