25th Mar 2023

Dutch far-right defector raises calls for snap elections

  • Brinkman's departure further complicates things for an already complicated government (Photo: Flickr)

Hero Brinkman, a Dutch MP, has announced his departure from the far-right PVV party headed by Geert Wilders, raising doubts over the survival of the current government.

"As a convinced democrat, I can no longer function in a party that completely centers around one person," he told reporters in The Hague on Tuesday (20 March). "All my efforts [to democratise the party] have always been sabotaged."

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The PVV is not like other parties in that it has no members and therefore no internal elections. Nor does it have a youth movement. Both are things Brinkman has long campaigned for.

In a leaked e-mail last week, he also criticised the party's much-condemned anti-immigrant hotline as a one-man endeavour.

"This way, there is always the risk of the party's president launching some other pilot project just to gain a few seats in the polls," he said.

Brinkman's departure further complicates things for an already complicated government.

It reduces the minority government's parliamentary support base, propped up from the sidelines by Wilders, from a narrow majority to exactly half of a total of 150 seats - a minority in political dictionaries.

Opposition parties were quick to convene the government to parliament and call for snap elections.

"The government has just lost its majority," said Diederik Samsom, freshly elected leader of the social democrats. "The country is in crisis and we need a government with a solid base. We need new elections."

Emiel Roemer, head of the Socialist Party and leading in the polls after the ruling liberals, said he wanted to see "new elections as soon as possible".

It is uncertain if they will get what they want. Brinkman has said that he will continue to support the government, in theory keeping its majority base intact. Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said he sees "no reason to hold new elections".

His coalition partner, however, has voiced its concerns over the viability in parliament of a package of new spending cuts currently being negotiated.

"It is important to know that we can count on a majority in parliament," Sybrand van Haersma Buma, leader of the christian democrats, said. "We will have to see."

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