National politicians say they are threatened more often and more seriously than a few years ago. The NRC reports this on the basis of a tour of group chairmen in the Lower House and other members of parliament. They also say they are being harassed more often on the streets, while threats were made on social media more often in the past.
Several politicians say to NRC that the atmosphere has become particularly grim because of supporters of the farmers‘ organisation Farmers Defence Force and the group Virus Truth, which opposes the coronavirus measures. Some MPs are worried about their family members or employees, others are afraid that their daily work will be affected.
Last month MP Pieter Omtzigt of the CDA in The Hague was threatened during a demonstration against corona policy. This was reported by parliamentary chairman Arib and a man of 26 has now been arrested.
According to GroenLinks-leader Jesse Klaver “something has really changed in the Netherlands”. He says to the newspaper that he is adapting his working method in response to the threats, for example by deliberately being vague about when he appears at public meetings. Some group chairmen announce in the newspaper that their private addresses have been more strictly secured in recent months.
D66 party chairman Rob Jetten talks about how he crashed his car at the beginning of this year when he was in Twente for a meeting. During the campaign for the European elections, last year, he was given extra security.
According to PVV leader Wilders, for years the most threatened politician in the Netherlands, threats against him come more often from abroad. He thinks that the government deals with them “labyrinthine”. “The atmosphere around me is that we all know. But I still can’t go to the toilet without security guards at the door”, NRC quotes him.
Radicalisation has been accelerated
Hans Boutellier, extraordinary professor of polarisation and resilience at the VU University, says to the newspaper that the radicalisation process has accelerated in the Netherlands over the past ten years. That could explain the increase in threats. He notes that protest movements in the post-war decades focused mainly on policy choices and that groups or individuals are now being targeted.
One cause, according to Boutellier, is the pragmatic political and administrative culture in the Netherlands. One cause, according to Boutellier, is the pragmatic political and administrative culture in the Netherlands, which focuses on efficiency and effectiveness and less on emotion and ideology. That would encourage extreme views, because that is the only way to tell a counter-story.