Six members of the right-wing political party JA21 have quit in protest at the multiple jobs held by one of its founders, Annabel Nanninga.
The six, including two of JA21’s three MEPs in Strasbourg, wrote an open letter at the weekend criticising the party’s undemocratic structure and unhealthy culture.
The move was triggered last week when Nanninga announced she would be standing as a candidate for the general election in November. Nanninga is already chair of the JA21 group in the senate and a city councillor in Amsterdam.
The MEPs Rob Roos and Rob Rooken, together with four provincial assembly members, accused Nanninga of creating a “personal jobs treadmill”, flatly contradicting her party’s efforts to improve accountability in The Hague.
“You cannot credibly criticise the administrative culture in The Hague if the same flaws are visible in your own party’s culture,” they wrote.
The departure of the six less than three months before the election is a blow for JA21, which had tried to position itself as a more responsible alternative to far- right parties such as Forum voor Democratie (FVD).
Roos and Rooken will keep their seats in Strasbourg until the next European elections in June 2024. JA21, now represented solely by Michiel Hoogeveen, is part of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.
Nanninga and co-founder Joost Eerdmans broke away from FVD in December 2020 during a row over party leader Thierry Baudet’s failure to deal with anti-Semitism in Forum’s youth wing.
JA21 won three seats in parliament in the March 2021 election and were seen as a potential coalition partner by Mark Rutte, but eventually the VVD leader formed a cabinet with the same three partners as before the election: D66, the Christian Democrats (CDA) and ChristenUnie.
Opinion polls last week suggested they would struggle to improve on their three seats in the Lower House, one of which is held by Eerdmans. The other two sitting MPs, Nicki Pouw-Verweij and Derk Jan Eppink, have already said they will not be standing as candidates.
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