There has been a ‘worrying’ increase in threats and violence directed at local politicians, home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk has told parliament.
The debate about refugees has been the main motor for the increase, although threats by drugs gangs have also gone up, Plasterk said.
Two years ago, 23% of local politicians said they had been confronted with aggression and violence but that has now risen to 27%. In particular, the number of cases of intimidation via social media has more than doubled.
Among the high profile incidences in recent months: the mayor of Geldermalsen was threatened over plans to locate a refugee hostel in the town; in Purmerend the town hall was evacuated because of refugee-related threats and two cars belonging to a Wormerland councillor were set on fire because of his support for a temporary asylum seekers centre.
‘Locals always have the right to say what they think about, say, a refugee centre, but it is completely unacceptable to couple that with verbal abuse and threats,’ Plasterk said. ‘Local politicians have put in a tremendous performance to solve the problems in such a short space of time.’
Attacks on elected officials may have gone up, but the number of civil servants reporting incidents has more than halved to 19%. One reason is that locals have less direct contact with civil servants because of the increasing use of online services.
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