Tuesday

21st Feb 2017

Focus

Wilders says he wants to take up EP seat

  • Geert Wilders - critics say this latest move is just a publicity stunt (Photo: Roel Wijnants)

Geert Wilders announced Tuesday (10 June) that he has started a legal procedure to take up his seat in the European Parliament without having to give up his seat in the Dutch national parliament.

Such a 'dual mandate' is currently not allowed under EU law.

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Wilders, who was 10th on his party's list at the ballot, received 289,000 preferential votes in the recent European Parliament elections, more than his party's proposed delegation leader Marcel de Graaf.

The PVV won four of the 26 Dutch seats.

On the basis of the number of preferential votes, Wilders has the right to take up a seat in the European Parliament and he told the Electoral Council on Tuesday he accepts that seat.

However, the populist politician does not want to give up his seat in the Dutch national parliament, which he has held almost continuously since 1998.

While dual mandates used to be legally possible, a member of the European Parliament may no longer also have a seat in the national assembly.

Geert-Jan Knoops, Wilders' lawyer, has requested the Court of Justice to annul the 2002 decision by the European Union on these so-called 'dual mandates'.

The rules of procedure of the European Parliament state that until a dispute has been resolved, elected members “shall take their seat in Parliament and on its bodies and shall enjoy all the rights attaching thereto”.

Secretary-director Melle Bakker of the Dutch Electoral Council estimates that the court procedure might take as long as six months.

“That could mean, unless we have misread the rules of procedure, that Wilders could at least combine these two positions for some time”, Bakker said in a radio interview on BNR.

An EP spokesperson said holding two mandates simultaneously is illegal.

"Following the European law, it is not possible at all because the European act on the European elections, it's quite clear forbidding the double mandate," said Jaume Duch.

"So, No, following the European law you have to choose, but you cannot be at the same time at the national parliament and at the European Parliament," he added.

The eurosceptic PVV wants to abolish the European Parliament and wants the Netherlands to exit the European Union.

Wilders has tried a dual mandate in the Netherlands before. He was elected in the municipal council of the Hague in 2010, but he gave up that seat after 16 weeks. In March, before the elections, Wilders had said in an interview that he did not want to take up a seat in the European Parliament.

Questions have been raised how serious Wilders is in his attempt at keeping both seats. Critics have suggested that it is a publicity stunt as his party did less well than expected in the May EU vote.

No criticising Russia

Wilders was in the news on Tuesday for another reason too.

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that Wilders has asked his fellow party members not to be too critical of Russia.

The newspaper wrote that Wilders wants a moderate tone towards Russia because of the PVV's attempts to co-operate with the French National Front, which is friendly towards the party of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Wilders' party suffers blow, according to exit poll

Geert Wilders Freedom Party lost almost five percent of its votes compared to 2009 while the pro-EU D66 emerged at the top, according to exit polls for the EU vote in the Netherlands.

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