|Leader in the Senate||Paul Frentrop|
|Founded||1 September 2016|
|Headquarters||Herengracht 74, |
|Think tank||Renaissance Institute|
|Membership (2020)||42,794 (Disputed)|
|European affiliation||European Conservatives and Reformists Party|
|European Parliament group||European Conservatives and Reformists|
|House of Representatives|
Forum for Democracy (Dutch: Forum voor Democratie, FvD) is a conservative and right-wing populist Eurosceptic political party in the Netherlands that was initially founded as a think tank by Thierry Baudet and Henk Otten in 2016. The party first participated in elections in the 2017 general election, winning two seats in the House of Representatives. In the 2019 provincial elections, it won the most seats out of any party.
The FvD was established as a think tank whose main feat was campaigning in the 2016 Dutch Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement referendum against the EU in general.
In September 2016, it converted itself into a political party and announced its intention to take part in the 2017 general election, where the FvD ended up with 1.8% of the vote and 2 seats, entering parliament for the first time. In February 2019, the FvD had nearly 31,000 members. As populists, the bulk of the Forum's nominated parliamental candidates did not have prior active experience in other political parties.
In February 2018, the party suffered from internal issues with a number of prominent members leaving the party because they felt the party had a lack of internal democracy.
During the 2019 provincial elections, Forum for Democracy won 86 seats, spread across the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. In South Holland, North Holland, and Flevoland, FvD became the largest party, winning 11, 9 and 8 seats respectively. In all other provinces, the party came either second or third in terms of numbers of votes. The FvD did not stand in Rotterdam but instead endorsed the Livable Rotterdam party.
On 30 April 2020, Forum for Democracy formed a coalition with the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) in the North Brabant province, the first time the party had formally entered into the administration of a regional authority. In 2020, former VVD MP Wybren van Haga defected to the party.
In April 2020, the party became split following a series of controversies related to members of the FvD's youth wing making comments that were deemed racist and homophobic. Baudet was also accused of endorsing antisemitic conspiracies, something he denied. This led to calls for Baudet to be removed as FvD leader and he temporarily stepped down. In December 2020, it was announced that Baudet had returned as party leader and would lead the FvD into the 2021 Dutch general election.
The FvD has been described as ideologically national conservative, conservative-liberal eurosceptic and right-wing populist. On its official platform, the FvD declares itself to be a movement rather than a party with a focus on protecting Dutch sovereignty, identity, and cultural and intellectual property. The party also wants stricter immigration policies and is opposed to the European Union. Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad has described the FvD of containing various factions, including members sympathetic to conservative and libertarian ideas. Initially, the party focused on drawing support from former People's Party for Freedom and Democracy voters who felt the VVD had grown too soft on the policy areas of European Union and immigration, but saw the Party for Freedom as too hardline, and tried recruiting candidates who came from professional rather than political backgrounds. The FvD has been accused of cultivating popularity among the alt-right movement, although the party does not identify itself as such.
FvD is a conservative liberal party and as such supports economic liberalism. The party is a proponent of the introduction of a high tax-free bracket for everyone, the abolition of taxes on gifts and inheritance and a radical simplification of tax brackets. The party is a proponent of drastic changes in elementary and secondary education, focusing on performance evaluations for teachers. It wants to expand the armed forces, expanding the National Reserve Corps and reverting defense budget cuts.
One of the major issues the party campaigns against is the perceived existence of a "party cartel" in which the main ruling parties of the country divide power among themselves and work towards the same goals despite claiming to be competitors. The party promises direct democracy through binding referenda as well as directly elected mayors and a directly elected Prime Minister. The party is also in favor of the government consisting of apolitical experts in their respective fields ("technocracy"), and top civil servants having to reapply for their positions whenever a new cabinet is formed.
The party states that it supports protecting European civilization and wants free trade between European nations and the world but is opposed to the European Union (EU) and the Eurozone. The party calls for the referendum of the Eurozone, the Schengen agreement and on the Dutch membership of the EU. The FvD also adopts a nationalist viewpoint in which the Dutch culture should be protected. For instance, the party is in favor of reinstating border controls and ending what it perceives as mass immigration. It also campaigns against unchecked immigration, says it would introduce a Dutch Values Protection Act. The party supports freedom of religion and calls for equal treatment of all citizens regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation, but is also against any further influence of Islamic culture on Dutch society, supports a crackdown on forced or child marriages and wants to ban Islamic face veils and other face coverings. The FvD also opposes foreign funding of Islamic schools and institutions, and argues that all schools in the Netherlands should subscribe to "Judeo-Christian values." FvD also states that immigrants who do not wish to integrate should be offered incentives to return to their native country and that whenever possible asylum seekers should be processed off Dutch soil.
The party calls for a reform of the Dutch justice system, increased funding for the Dutch police force, tougher penalties against those convicted of violent crimes and where possible for non-naturalized immigrants found guilty of serious crimes to be deported and tried in their country of origin.
FvD calls for a gradual legalization of soft drugs but also supports reducing the number of cannabis coffee shops within the vicinity of schools. The party also calls for a reduction in the use of plastic, more support for the agricultural economy, sustainable farming and tougher laws against animal cruelty. In the spring of 2019, the party, endorsing a climate sceptic platform, intensively campaigned against large state investments in renewable energy, leading to a victory in the provincial elections. Later that year, it also supported protests by Dutch farmers against enforcing legislation on nitrogen emissions.
FvD supports high culture. It argues for the protection of Dutch culture and "European classical music, art and knowledge." It is critical of modern architecture, calling for both new government buildings to be constructed in a neoclassical style and for city planning that "fits within a historical view." FvD also supports the establishment of a commission to protect historic monuments from destruction, wants Frysk to be retained as a second state language, calls for schools to teach about "beautiful things that the West has produced" and supports free museum admission for all Dutch citizens. However, the party has also promoted plans to defund and privatize the Nederlandse Publieke Omroep, a Dutch public broadcasting organization.
Since it became active in politics, FvD has sparked controversy, especially regarding allegations of racism against important FvD politicians, the FvD "left-wing indoctrination in education" hotline and whether or not the FvD is a far-right party. Many of these controversies surround party leader Baudet. In April 2020, HP/De Tijd revealed instances of antisemitism, homophobia and glorification of Anders Breivik and Brenton Tarrant in groups associated with FvD's youth wing. FvD later investigated these instances and discharged three members from the political party. Three additional members were also suspended. After more similar messages were revealed in November, Baudet resigned as lijsttrekker. The day after Baudet resigned as leader, vice-leader Theo Hiddema vacated his seat in the Tweede Kamer for "personal reasons," although some media outlets opined that it was due to controversies within the party.  The following day, Senator Paul Cliteur also resigned from the party. On 26 November 2020, FvD Senator Nicki Pouw-Verweij released a letter regarding multiple incidents during a dinner on 20 November including Baudet making antisemitic statements claiming that the COVID-19 lockdowns were concocted by George Soros and lashing out at colleague Joost Eerdmans.
In December 2020, Baudet reversed his actions and announced the party would hold a leadership contest. The FvD's board announced an internal referendum on whether to expel Baudet from the party and replace him with a new leader. This took place on 3 December 2020, with 76% of FvD members voting in favour of Baudet remaining in the party. In protest at the outcome, the FvD's three MEPs and seven Senators resigned to sit as independents before joining the JA21 party founded by former FvD members.
|2017||Thierry Baudet||187,162||1.8 (#13)||New||Opposition|
defected to Van Haga Group
defected to JA21
defected to Group Otten
|Election||Overall 12 provinces||Involved in|
|Province||Elected seats||Current seats|
The Forum for Democracy (FvD) has a curious history. Baudet, a well-regarded legal scholar and political philosopher, set it up in 2015 as a conservative, euroskeptic think tank