The Dutch right-wing firebrand Thierry Baudet was left with concussion after he was attacked as he prepared to speak at an event in Belgium on October 26.
Baudet, founder and leader of the Dutch Forum for Democracy (FvD) party, suffered significant swelling to his head but, after a short delay, decided to go ahead with his lecture anyway.
Speaking to Dutch radio, the politician said it seemed he was ambushed, with someone distracting him to his right and then someone assaulting him from his left.
The alleged attacker was a man in his 30s from Ukraine, with permanent residence in Belgium. He was not known to the police and apparently only speaks Ukrainian.
The man jumped towards Baudet and then beat him about the head with a folded up orange umbrella. He then yelled in Ukrainian: “No to fascism, no to Putinism.”
On the afternoon of October 27, the FvD announced that Baudet had suffered concussion as a result of the assault. It added that its election campaign would be put on hold for the coming days.
“He stays home with his family, that is shaken by the assault, and needs to recover from the hit,” a party statement said.
— Forum for Democracy International (@FVD_Intl) October 26, 2023
There were security agents accompanying the Dutch politician at the event and they immediately took down the assailant. He was detained by police but later released.
Dutch politicians of all stripes condemned the attack against Baudet, calling it anti-democratic and unacceptable.
Van politici blijf je af. Wat Thierry Baudet vanavond overkwam in Gent is volstrekt onacceptabel. De ideeën van politici waar je het mee oneens bent bestrijd je met woorden en nooit, maar dan ook nooit, met geweld.
— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) October 26, 2023
Baudet is not popular in progressive circles, often described as far right, and he has a long history regarding Ukraine. Before FvD was a political party, it was a think tank.
Under his leadership, it took on a joint initiative with the Geenstijl blog for the Dutch 2016 referendum on the planned Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement.
He conducted a successful no-campaign that led to the agreement being shelved. According to Baudet, the treaty would have made Ukraine “a victim of the EU’s imperialist policy.”
He has since become a politician and over the years has veered further Right. He also started to embrace fringe, often conspiracy, theories, especially regarding Covid and the World Economic Forum. He even went as far as expressing doubt that dinosaurs ever existed.
Regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Baudet took an anti-Western stance, accusing it of being imperialistic. Just before Moscow’s attack began, he had called Putin “a wonderful guy”.
When the war broke out, he wrote on Twitter: “Putin is right. The West IS behaving like a bandit – and HAS BEEN behaving as one since the illegal war against Serbia in 1999. NATO/EU/US should STOP this senseless escalation, accept neutrality for Ukraine and build a bridge with Russia, our common European neighbour in the East.”
He has often accused the West of misguided “moralism” and “tunnel vision”, instead calling for more “realism”.
De man die Thierry Baudet gisteren aanviel heeft bedrijfskleding waarbij het logo wel erg zichtbaar is
Zal zijn werkgever leuk vinden🙄
Kostte mij echt 3 minuten om uit te zoeken dat het een werkvest van Maes Recyling uit België betreft.
Tjonge wat een übersukkel, die vent pic.twitter.com/Y0YGsZ3hlv
— Jast1 📵📵 (@Jastno2) October 27, 2023
Baudet had been invited to speak at an event in Ghent, North-West Belgium, where the attack took place, by Conservative student organisation KVHV, which is known for advocating maximum freedom of speech.
During his lecture, he announced the formation of a Belgian branch of his party to take part in the European Parliament elections in June 2024.
He said the breaking up the Netherlands and the north of Belgium, Flanders, was a historical mistake. He called it “the greatest tragedy in history” and the result of a “cynical power play between the European superpowers”.
Baudet claimed that his party was the only one with an “explicit reunification agenda”.
“There are so many things that connect us. There will always be disagreements, but we must stand together,” he said.
With his international move, Baudet is seen as becoming a competitor to the popular right-wing Belgian party Vlaams Belang.
In reaction to Baudet’s move, Vlaams Belang leader Tom Van Grieken told Belgian news site Pal Nws it “shows little political acumen”.
“At a time when Flemish, right-wing votes together are so high, he wants to come here and divide them,” Van Grieken said.