Dutch speaker resigns over far-right Wilders' 'snub'
The speaker of the Dutch upper house said late Thursday he will resign after allegedly snubbing far-right leader Geert Wilders during King Willem-Alexander's enthronement in April, media reported.
Fred De Graaf is to stand down after allegedly keeping anti-Muslim politician Wilders from joining a select group of lawmakers escorting the king during the April 30 ceremony that was beamed to millions of television screens around the world.
De Graaf denies any wrongdoing, but said from London late Thursday that he would resign on Tuesday because his "integrity had been called into question", national news agency ANP reported.
The scandal erupted after De Graaf, master of ceremonies for the enthronement, told a Dutch newspaper this week how the five lawmakers accompanying the king during the enthronement ceremony were chosen.
"In the back of my mind I was certainly thinking that the image of Wilders next to the king would have drawn a lot of attention," De Graaf told Wednesday's Volkskrant daily.
Wilders has been critical of the royal family in the past, including slamming then-queen Beatrix for wearing a headscarf during a visit to the Gulf in 2012.
De Graaf is a member of the Liberal VVD party that is in a ruling coalition with the Labour PvdA, but as speaker he is supposed to be politically neutral.
As one of parliament's longest-sitting MPs, Wilders would have been a candidate for the royal cortege. His anti-immigration PVV party has 15 seats in the 150-seat lower house.
"This does him credit, the only right decision," Wilders told ANP after the resignation announcement.
"The impartiality of a house speaker must be beyond dispute, and that was clearly not the case here."
© 2013 AFP