Outspoken right-wing MP quits VVD, goes it alone
3 September 2004 , AMSTERDAM — MP Geert Wilders has quit the Liberal VVD party in a dispute over his outspoken right-wing views. He will remain in the Dutch Parliament as a one-man party.
3 September 2004
AMSTERDAM — MP Geert Wilders has quit the Liberal VVD party in a dispute over his outspoken right-wing views. He will remain in the Dutch Parliament as a one-man party.
Wilders announced his decision on Thursday night after talks with VVD parliamentary leader Jozias van Aartsen, Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm and party chairman Jan van Zanen in The Hague.
Liberal MPs had been concerned for some time that Wilders' statements have been too right-wing.
Wilders and his Somali-born party colleague Ayaan Hirsi Ali have led the criticism of Muslims in the Netherlands for failing to integrate and adhere to western values. They have both attacked the wearing of the veil.
Wilders has not spared his own party either. His statement referring to the VVD as a home for the elderly also hit the wrong mark among his colleagues.
The main sticking point was eventually the expansion of the European Union. "I was and remain opposed to the entry of Turkey to the EU and cannot accept a compromise on that," Wilders told news agency ANP.
Van Aartsen said he regretted Wilders' decision to quit the party and denied he had given an ultimatum to him to toe the party line.
"I can not absolutely follow his reasoning. It does not fit the way in which we go deal with each other." However the decision was ultimately the best result for the party, Van Aartsen added.
Minister Zalm also expressed regret at Wilders' decision, but added: "The party's representatives must together as a team," he said.
Wilders said his departure from the VVD was "deeply sad". "This is a black day for me. I say goodbye today to a club that I have been active in for 20 years and it hits my soul".
The MP said he had tried everything possible to remain a VVD member. He now intends to set up a new right-wing movement and will shortly discuss his future plans with like-minded people.
He stressed he did not intend to bring other VVD members with him or to align himself with the populist LPF.
Meanwhile, a survey has indicated that 20 percent of the Dutch public want Wilders to set up a new conservative party, while one-third of LPF voters would very probably switch support to Wilders' new grouping.
The Maurice de Hond survey also indicated prior to Wilders' departure that 52 percent of VVD voters did not believe the MP should leave the party. About 14 percent of VVD's supporters will vote for a new party led by Wilders if he contests the next election.
[Copyright Novum Nieuws 2004]
Subject: Dutch news