Tuesday 01 December 2020

Forum for Democracy under fire over race/IQ debate and democracy itself

Thierry Baudet and Theo Hiddema during Tuesday’s debate on a debate. Photo: Peter Hilz / HH

Fledgling political party Forum for Democracy, which is currently riding high in the opinion polls, has become embroiled in two public spats this week: one focusing on the link between race and IQ, the other on the party’s internal organisation.

On Tuesday, MPs rejected calls by GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver to debate statements made by Forum for Democracy MP Theo Hiddema, which Klaver described as racist.

Hiddema, a lawyer by profession, said in De Telegraaf on Tuesday it has ‘long been proven’ that there is a relationship between ‘IQ and race’. ‘That is science,’ Hiddema added.

Hiddema himself was commenting on the furore over a television interview given by the party’s number two in Amsterdam Yernaz Ramautarsing, several years ago.

In that interview Ramautarsing said that he ‘would rather have seen that black people are hyper intelligent and that Surinamese people have the highest average IQ in the world’.

‘But that is not the case,’ he said. ‘You can take someone from Syria where the average IQ is 84 and put them in the Netherlands where the average IQ is 101. He is going to earn less than a lot of native Dutch. But is that racism? No. There is a link between IQ and income.’

Debate

Describing Hiddema’s comments as ‘repulsive and un-Dutch’, Klaver called for a debate with prime minister Mark Rutte on the ‘forceful condemnation’ of racism and discrimination.

Klaver’s fellow MPs have also condemned Hiddema. ‘Every suggestion of a link between race and IQ is repulsive,’ said CDA leader Sybrand Buma. D66 leader Alexander Pechtold said party leader Thierry Baudet and Hiddema ‘are playing pranks in an eloquent and elitist way, which actually cross the line.’

However, MPs, including the four coalition parties, said that Klaver was using an odd parliamentary construction to force a debate. Instead, they referred him to next week’s planned debate on discrimination, where he would be able to tackle Hiddema instead.

Democracy

Meanwhile, FvD leader Thierry Baudet has sacked two members of the party’s inner core for trying to ‘undermine’ the party leadership. That prompted three others to write a letter in which they call on the party leadership to allow more input from members.

One of the authors of the letter, Arthur Legger, described Baudet’s reaction as ‘quite emotional and fierce’. ‘We wrote a decent letter and called for internal democratisation. That is all we are doing. And that in a party calling itself Forum for Democracy. It is actually a joke that I have to say that.’

The FvD, which has two MPs, is only contesting the local elections in Amsterdam, where the party is forecast to win two to three seats.

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