Former Forum senator Henk Otten forms new splinter party

The senate

Henk Otten, the former Forum voor Democratie senator thrown out of the party for alleged financial impropriety, has launched a new party and is taking two other Forum senators with him, the Telegraaf said on Monday.

Otten’s decision to start a new splinter party means the nationalist party’s weight in the upper house of parliament has now been cut to nine, three fewer than the right-wing VVD. Forum emerged as the biggest party after the local elections in March.

The two senators who have joined Otten are Dorien Rookmaker and Jeroen de Vries were knownas his supporters, the paper said. Rookmaker had earlier tried to heal the breach between Otten and Forum leader Thierry Baudet.

Otten was one of the co-founders of the party but had been under fire since giving an interview to the NRC newspaper which was highly critical of Baudet and the way he was moving the party to the far right.

Baudet told broadcaster NOS on Monday afternoon that the decision by the three senators to leave the party is ‘a shame and difficult to understand’.

There is room within Forum for different opinions, he said.

He also described the decision by the three to keep their senate seats as ‘cheating voters’. In the Netherlands, people are elected to parliament as individuals, rather than as members of a party, and it is common for dissenters to keep their seat if they form a splinter grouping.

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