Wilders to take Euro Parliament seat despite 'double mandate' ban

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 10, 2014 1:16 PM

By Thomas Escritt

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch far-right Eurosceptic Geert Wilders has decided to take up a seat in the European Parliament despite a ban on serving in two parliaments simultaneously, the Dutch electoral commission said on Tuesday.

Melle Bakker, secretary-general of the commission, told Dutch radio station BNR that Wilders had said he would claim his seat in the multinational assembly.

The European Parliament's rules of procedure forbid members from holding seats in their national parliament and the European assembly concurrently.

Since Dutch rules do not prohibit such double mandates, the electoral commission is powerless to prevent Wilders from taking his seat in the European Parliament while keeping the one he already holds in the national parliament in The Hague.

His decision to take a seat in defiance of the ban opens up the possibility of a lengthy legal action at the end of which he would likely be thrown out of the multinational assembly.

Wilders, whose Freedom Party won four seats in European Parliamentary elections last month, said last week he would attempt to file a lawsuit at the European Court of Justice seeking a court ruling to overturn the regulation.

"Almost 300,000 voters have voted for me," Wilders said in a statement. "It would be too absurd for words if Brussels forbade me from representing my voters in the European Parliament."

Wilders was in 10th place on his party's list in the European elections. He had said he was not interested in taking a seat in the Brussels assembly.

But the number of personal preference votes he received makes him eligible for one of the four seats the party won.

His party, which wants to quit the European Union, has pledged to form an alliance with other far-right parties, including France's National Front, which topped the French vote in the European elections.

Wilders himself faces possible prosecution for discrimination in the Netherlands for anti-Moroccan comments before the election. Thousands of people filed complaints against him and prosecutors are considering a possible case.

(Reporting By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Tom Heneghan)