The focus at Forum for Democracy (FVD) must be focused on the future as soon as possible. Party leader Thierry Baudet sees the parliamentary elections in 2021 as "the big moment" and therefore wants to leave thunder within the party behind as quickly as possible.
"No questions have been asked about the past, that means that you want to continue. We will do that," Baudet concluded on Monday evening satisfied.
FVD held a meeting in Zaandam just before the start of the political season to look ahead, but the past was also briefly considered. Last summer it stormed at FVD and that storm has not subsided.
Henk Otten, former treasurer, co-founder, former confidant of Baudet with many such functions that indicate an earlier close relationship with FVD, was expelled from the party at the end of July. The Otten Group now has three seats.
Baudet: "Things happened that cost me a friend"
This was a decision that hurt Baudet in particular. That is, if you can believe his introductory words in Zaandam. "Things have happened in the last six months that have personally caused me a lot of sorrow. They have cost me a friend," Baudet said about Otten's departure, without saying his name.
But still, Baudet said immediately afterwards, Otten's cancellation was inevitable. According to him, "no association could accept" what Otten did with subsidy money. The former treasurer is accused by the FVD board of fraud, but Otten denies in all keys and has even reported libel and defamation.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, government money has not been tampered with either.
Nothing is said about this in Zaandam. Also not about the directional struggle that is being conducted according to Otten, but not according to Baudet.
Theo Hiddema and Thierry Baudet in Zaandam. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Party now mainly wants to radiate unity
The main purpose of this evening was to make it clear that FVD radiates unity. Party leaders Baudet, Theo Hiddema (Member of the House of Representatives), Paul Cliteur (chairman of the Senate), Derk Jan Eppink (European Parliament) and Annabel Nanninga (Amsterdam City Council) held a short speech among the approximately three thousand visitors about how they want to change the Netherlands.
Hiddema will investigate how the asylum procedure works in the Netherlands and will make a documentary about it. Eppink promises to represent the Dutch citizen in Brussels, Cliteur emphasizes that the remaining nine FVD senators form "a close-knit club". Baudet repeats how the Netherlands is afraid of its own language, its own history and its own culture. In short: the fear of self, or oikophobia.
The party must get back on track. That is why the expansion of the board from three to five people was announced en passant. The upcoming drivers were already in the first row and were nicely introduced to the room. Don't the members get anything to say about that, did someone in the audience want to know? "Absolutely," Baudet replied. "We are a democratic party". The rules within FVD are only drawn up in such a way that party members have virtually no influence on them.
"When are you going to split off, Theo?"
There were especially many smiling faces. The meeting did not in any way resemble crisis management. It was even possible to joke about Hiddema's share of the unrest. "When are you going to split off, Theo?" Baudet asked. The MP had told a reporter from talk show Jinek last week that, as far as he was concerned, Otten had been wrongfully removed from the party.
But that statement was also professionally massaged away. It would be an item about him and his cat in the Belgian seaside resort of Knokke-Heist, but there were only questions about "a certain" Otten. "That cat was hardly mentioned", a bewildered Hiddema said. The conclusion was simple: a frame of the media. The umpteenth.
The public had not come to Zaandam to hold their representatives to account. They wanted to see the party back and that's exactly what they got.