AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch politician Thierry Baudet, leader of the anti-immigration Forum for Democracy, said on Monday he will step down ahead of a parliamentary election in March following allegations that young party members made anti-Semitic and homophobic comments.
Baudet, who has been winning over supporters of anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders and the party of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, said he did not want to be associated with the remarks, allegedly posted in a chat group for members of the party’s youth wing.
“They are terrible messages – Nazism, anti-Semitism, racism – they are ideas I want nothing to do with,” he said in a video statement on Twitter. “I want to take political responsibility as head of the party and will give up my spot on the ballot.”
Baudet said the party would be led by someone else during the election but he would stay on as a member of parliament. Dutch news agency ANP said Baudet would remain party chairman.
Baudet opposes immigration, denounces the media, and emphasises “Dutch first” cultural and economic themes. He opposes the euro and thinks the Netherlands should leave the European Union.
His FvD party performed well in provincial elections in 2019 and he had planned to contest the election in March, when a new parliament and prime minister will be chosen.
The party is likely to win some seats and is currently polling ninth out of the 13 main parties taking part in the vote.
(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Alison Williams)