By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
THE HAGUE (Worthy News) – An influential governing Dutch party wants to ban parties deemed dangerous for society, in a move that critics say threatens the Netherlands’ liberal, democratic traditions.
Legislator Jan Paternotte, who leads the left-leaning Democrats 66 (D66) party, urged Parliament to adopt legislation that could potentially ban the anti-immigration Forum for Democracy (FvD) party.
The Dutch Civil Code currently only allows the prohibition of, for instance, criminal motor clubs, but Paternotte suggested extending the ban to unwelcome parties. “We [D66] say that it can’t be the case that in this time, when democracy is under pressure everywhere, we allow the undermining of the rule of law only when you are a political party.”
He and other legislators condemned recent statements by FvD legislator Gideon van Meijeren who suggested people march to parliament to overthrow the government.
Van Meijeren has denied he meant using violence though he spoke about possible casualties during the confrontation.
He earlier lashed out at journalists as “sewage rats,” including a young reporter who had questioned his party leader’s declaration that reptilians rule the Netherlands.
In an apparent reference to the FvD, Paternotte told reporters that “a lot has been said lately. From ‘we want to overthrow the government’ to ‘violence is beautiful because that can change things.’ We have to take that seriously. Democracy is too beautiful not to protect.”
Paternotte accused the FvD of creating an atmosphere of hatred similar to what happened in the United States in January 2021 when President Donald J. Trump “incited his supporters” to storm the Capitol. Five people were killed as a result.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and says the rioters were not his natural supporters.
Critics have questioned the proposal to ban political parties in the Netherlands, saying the Dutch Prosecution Office can already ban groups if they undermine the Dutch state.
The proposed law comes when D66 and other parties in the fragile governing coalition struggle in the polls amid protests against controversial environmental and migration policies.
Farmers, often armed with inverted Dutch flags, have been protesting against nitrogen reduction rules that could force many to close their long-cherished family businesses. Several farmers have committed suicide.
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The farmers’ protests have been compared to the Freedom Convoy protests by truckers in Canada. Sparked by a government mandate requiring cross-border truckers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, it grew into a broader grassroots movement against perceived increasing government control over people’s lives.
Additionally, more than a million Dutch citizens are believed to have plunged into deep poverty over oil and natural gas policies that increased food and energy prices even before the war in Ukraine began.
And the Netherlands struggles with accommodating migrants amid severe housing shortages, adding to more political and social unrest in the tiny nation of just over 17 million people.
Besides facing protests, D66 has also come under pressure over harassment allegations and controversies surrounding its chair of Parliament.
Yet Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, in power since 2010, so far survived the social, political, and economic turmoil.
Rutte, who leads the liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, has become one of Europe’s longest-serving leaders.
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