Hero Brinkman, an MP for the anti-immigration PVV since 2006, has left the party, saying he can no longer accept the lack of democracy within the organisation and the way different groups in society are constantly being singled out for criticism.
His decision means the ruling alliance – the minority cabinet plus PVV – no longer has a majority in parliament, although Brinkman said he would continue to support the government.
Brinkman told a news conference he had taken the decision to leave the PVV because as a democrat ‘and a positive person’, it had become too difficult to support a party ‘built around one man’ and which refuses to consider the future.
Brinkman, a former policeman, has long campaigned to turn the PVV into a party with formal members, an annual conference and a youth wing. This has led to several clashes with founder Geert Wilders and other senior figures in the movement.
Brinkman also told the news conference that while Islam is a backward religion, he knows many Muslims who are fully integrated into Dutch society and feel they are being treated as second-class citizens.
He also again criticised the PVV’s website to collect complaints about central and eastern Europeans, saying they are being branded as criminals.
Opposition MPs were quick to call for new elections. ‘The cabinet has lost its majority at a time when the country is in chaos,’ new Labour leader Diederick Samsom said.
However, prime minister Mark Rutte rejected the calls, saying it would be irresponsible to call an election just because of the problems facing the economy.
The ruling VVD and CDA, together with the PVV, are currently holding talks to try to find ways of reducing government spending by at least €9bn, without affecting consumer confidence.
However, Sybrand van Haersma Buma, who leads the CDA in parliament, said he wants to talk to the other parties about the implications of Brinkman’s decision. It is important to ensure there is majority support for the cuts currently being discussed by the three alliance parties, he said.
Geert Wilders said Brinkman’s decision is ‘sad’ and ‘unnecessary’ but said it would not affect the PVV’s support for the minority government.