Thierry Baudet has resigned as leader of far right party Forum voor Democratie and will not lead the party into the 2021 general election.
Baudet made the announcement in a video message on Monday evening, in which he blamed the media for the party’s current troubles.
Several leading members of far-right party Forum for Democracy’s youth wing were suspended at the weekend in a long-running row over racism and anti-semitism on internal message boards.
One is thought to be a 23-year-old student of political communications who was quoted saying ‘Jews have international paedophile networks and usher large numbers of women into pornography’. In another message he expressed the view that ‘National-Socialism had the best economic formula ever.’
Baudet had announced an internal inquiry to be led by FvD senator Paul Cliteur and Wybren van Haga, an independent MP who joined the party last month and is on its list of candidates for next year’s general election.
But the move was criticised as ‘too little, too late’ by senator and Amsterdam city councillor Annabel Nanninga, who called for a ‘total clear out’ of the JFvD organisation.
A number of other prominent party members, including the party’s other MP Theo Hiddema, supported Nanninga’s line.
In his video, Baudet said he did not understand the fact that others would not wait for the results of the inquiry. ‘We are now threatening to throw people under a bus before we know what has happened,’ he said.
Baudet said his action was taking ‘ultimate political responsibility’. ‘Hopefully, this will stop all this nonsense definitively,’ he said.
The MP and party founder said he would be happy to take the ceremonial position of last place on the list of candidate MPs for the general election – which makes it likely he would be elected – and did not mention relinquishing his role on the party’s executive board.
Chris Alberts, who is an expert on the party, told television current affairs show Nieuwsuur on Monday evening that Baudet has not left the party and will still be a prominent member.
‘Baudet likes to keep things vague… but you could say that what he has done is purely for show,’ he said.
Later on Monday evening it was reported that Freek Jansen, Baudet’s right-hand man and number 7 on the party’s list of candidate MPs had given up his place as a potential MP. However it is unclear whether he had actually quit or not.
Jansen set up the FvD youth wing and works for Baudet and Hiddema in parliament. He helped write Baudet’s controversial ‘Minerva’s owl’ speech after last year’s provincial elections and is said to have organised Baudet’s meeting with American alt right figurehead Jared Taylor, among others.
Senior party officials are meeting to discuss the situation on Monday evening.
In 2019, FvD emerged as the biggest party in the country after the provincial elections but since then its fortunes have collapsed, amid allegations of anti-semitism, racism and internal disputes. According to the latest polls, the party will win no more than five seats in the March general election.
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