Friday 13 December 2019

Power, personalities and money dominate Forum voor Democratie soap opera

Thierry Baudet, (centre) and Henk Otten with microphone at an election meeting. Photo: Arie Kievit via HH

The power struggle within nationalist party Forum voor Democratie took another twist on Thursday evening when co-founder Henk Otten stepped down from the board, accusing his fellow board members of character assassination.

Otten quit after the NRC published an article outlining how he had paid himself €30,000 for overtime without consulting other board members – a move which had led to him resigning as treasurer earlier in the week.

Otten told the NRC on Thursday that the payment – €25,000 plus tax – was due to him to cover overtime but that he had repaid it to ‘avoid discussions’. ‘It is no coincidence that it has come out now,’ he told the paper.

With sackings and denunciations flying via Twitter and the media, the fledgling party has ‘poorly developed crisis management’, RTL commentator Frits Wester said.

Interview

The conflict between Otten and party leader Thierry Baudet became public last weekend when Otten gave an interview to the NRC in which he criticised Baudet for moving into far-right territory and highlighted disagreements over Europe and the left-wing indoctrination hotline.

On Wednesday, two days after Otten quit as treasurer, Baudet announced on Twitter that Otten was also stepping down as party worker in the lower house of parliament, where he has been active since 2017.

It is unclear what this week’s developments will mean for the June senate elections, in which all 570 members of the 12 provincial councils will vote for the 75 members of the senate. Otten leads the Forum list and the party was poised to win 13 senate seats.

Wester described the week’s events as ‘a complete soap opera centring on a new party which has grown explosively and is about power, personalities, strategy and money’.

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