Pirate Party officials abandon ship as Van der Leest ‘plots wrong course’

PP-vlagWith less than six months to go before the general election, the Dutch Pirate Party is looking for new officials after its entire board defected to the Forum for Democracy.

The switch of allegiances was triggered by discontent with the party’s lead candidate for the election, Ancilla van der Leest, who was accused in internal e-mails of having ‘hijacked’ the party.

The party named Van der Leest as its top candidate in June, hoping that her personal profile as a privacy issues campaigner would help secure its first seat in Parliament. In the 2012 election the group won 30,000 votes, around half the amount needed for a seat under the proportional representation system.

But internal documents revealed mounting discontent within the Pirate Party and a sense that Van der Leest neglected key issues such as democracy and transparency to pursue her own agenda.

The move may also have been prompted by a threatened mutiny by the membership council, which was on the brink of sacking the entire board in a telephone conference scheduled for Monday evening.

‘Everything had to be done within closed circles with a single aim: no reputational damage for the leading candidate,’ wrote Floor Dost, who until this week was party chairman.

Van der Leest responded initially through her Twitter feed, including one tweet stating: ‘If former officials feel more at home with FVD, it’s better for all concerned if they join them.’

The Pirate Party was founded in 2010, one of several similar groups founded across Europe following the success of the Swedish Pirate Party in the 2009 European Parliament election. Its main campaigning point is to reform copyright and patent law to promote ‘diversity and openness’.

The Forum for Democracy announced yesterday that it would be putting forward candidates in the election. Its founder, eurosceptic writer and activist Thierry Baudet, was one of the leading voices in the successful referendum campaign to reject Ukraine’s accession treaty earlier this year.

Baudet declined to comment on the issue to the Dutch media on Monday, saying he would release further details through social media.

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