Tuesday 23 July 2019

VVD officials urge party not to admit ‘dickhead’ councillor as MP

Thierry Aartsen during the local elections in Breda with Mark Rutte. Photo: Piet den Blanken/ HH

VVD party members have urged the leadership to block the nomination of a prospective MP over a series of inflammatory tweets.

Thierry Aartsen, currently party group leader on Breda city council, is under pressure not to take his seat after the messages were circulated at the weekend. In one tweet from 2009, Aartsen voiced his frustration at a train being delayed by a body on the line with the words: ‘Suicidals, be more creative!’

More recently he praised football club NAC Breda for a dance routine on the pitch in which the performers dressed up as the blackface character Zwarte Piet while a satirical song about politician Sylvana Simons blasted from the speakers. Simons has received threats in the past for her outspoken opposition to Zwarte Piet.

Aartsen is due to replace former defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, who is quitting parliament to become the UN special envoy to Iraq, under party rules.

VVD alderman Rob Berkhout appealed via Twitter for the party’s parliamentary leader Klaas Dijkhoff and chairwoman Christianne van der Wal to block Aartsen’s appointment. ‘I can’t imagine that we as a group want to have this kind of dickhead among our number,’ he said.

Aartsen said he had no intention of deleting the tweets, though he promised to choose his words more carefully as an MP. ‘Perhaps I should be more discreet. But I am who I am,’ he told local newspaper BN/ De Stem.

The furore around Aartsen comes just a few weeks after another VVD MP, Han ten Broeke, stood down following revelations about a ‘short-lived and intimate relationship’ with a young party worker.

The woman, who has not been named, accused Ten Broeke of sexual harassment and denied being in a relationship with him, according to HP/De Tijd. The case was referred to the integrity commission but Ten Broeke was allowed to continue as an MP.

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