Sylvana Simons and Farid Azarkan join national politics exodus

Sylvana Simons in debate earlier this month. Photo: Peter HIlz ANP / HH

Two more prominent MPs are leaving politics and their party leaderships at the November election – Sylvana Simons, founder of the left-wing, equal rights party Bij1, and Farid Azarkan, one of the first MPs for Denk and current party leader.

Simons, a former television presenter, said in an email to members that she had made a “personal choice” to quit politics and that it was the result of a combination of factors, including her poor health.

Bij1 has also been hit by internal problems and the party has fallen apart in Amsterdam where it was founded by Simons in 2016. Local councillors have criticized the “toxic and structural unsafe working conditions” within the party, accusations which Simons described as a “stab in the back”.

Simons, who became an MP in 2021, has also been the subject of prolonged and personal attacks by far right politician Geert Wilders and others on social media.


Denk’s leader Farid Azarkan said earlier in the evening that he was leaving national politics, without giving a specific reason.

“It has been enough,” he told BNR radio. “I am proud of what we have achieved. Denk is a stable party and is involved in running the council in Rotterdam and Schiedam.” Denk has three seats in parliament and a handful of local and provincial councillors.

Azarkan, who has been an MP since 2017, had a key role in unraveling the childcare benefit scandal alongside independent MP Pieter Omtzigt and the SP’s Renske Leijten, who is also leaving politics.

Simons’ and Azarkan’s decisions to leave national politics take the total number of party leaders standing down in November to six.

Three of the four coalition parties are quitting – Mark Rutte of the VVD, the CDA’s Wopke Hoekstra and D66’s Sigrid Kaag.

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