Parliamentary chairwoman under fire over Wilders’ attacks on MPs

Vera Bergkamp and Geert Wilders during the debate. Photo: Bart Maat ANP
Vera Bergkamp and Geert Wilders during the debate. Photo: Bart Maat ANP

Parliamentary chairwoman Vera Bergkamp has been heavily criticised for failing to take action against far right MP Geert Wilders during Tuesday’s debate on the budget, after he launched personal attacks on two Muslim MPs.

Party leaders Lilianne Ploumen (PvdA), Pieter Heerma from coalition partner CDA and Jesse Klaver of GroenLinks all accused her of being too passive in her approach to Wilders, telling her that she must ‘maintain order’.

Wilders’ attacks on Fonda Sahla (D66) and Kauthar Bouchallikht (GroenLinks) focused on the fact they wear headscarves, and he referred several times to Sahla’s sister, who was given a three year jail sentence in the Hofstad terrorism trial. He also attacked the press, describing journalists as ‘servants of the powerful’.

‘The chairwoman must draw the line when it comes to pointing the finger at democratically-elected representatives,’ Klaver said. ‘You are chairwoman and defender of the rule of law. You must enforce the rules.’

BIJ1 MP Silvana Simons called on Bergkamp to make sure there is a ‘safe workplace’ for all MPs and to take action when confronted by ‘explicit racist and inciting words’.


Bergkamp has three instruments at her disposal to deal with MPs who break parliamentary protocol. She can give them a formal warning, she can remove their speaking rights and she can have them removed from the chamber.

The NRC said in its analysis that MPs are now being more assertive in demanding action is taken against Wilders.

‘One can feel change,’ the paper said, before referring to unrest about the coronavirus rules, the threats being made against politicians and journalists, and warnings about ‘tribunals’ from the far right FvD.  MPs, the paper said, ‘are less and less afraid to make a connection between the words of politicians and what happens online and on the street.’

Justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz (VVD), who has Turkish roots, was the target of an earlier attack by Wilders, who sent out a tweet shortly after her appointment hinting that she would rather see him ‘under the ground’ and might remove his personal protection.

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