Thierry Baudet, founder and leader of Forum for Democracy (FvD), during a debate in the House of Representatives, the Hague, the Netherlands, EPA-EFE/Bart Maat


Dutch MP Baudet threatens to punch Green colleague in the face


Parliamentary debates in the normally staid Netherlands are becoming more feisty of late, with Thierry Baudet of the Forum for Democracy (FvD), threatening March 27 to punch his Green colleague Jesse Klaver in the face.

Baudet, who enjoys a reputation as a political firebrand, was being grilled about alleged Russian money transfers related to the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement referendum in 2016.

At the time, Baudet led the charge against the association agreement. His opponents insinuated he might have yielded to Russian influence, though no proof of this has emerged.

Thierry Baudet did not take this insinuation well.

Klaver asked if Baudet would be willing to show his financial dealings related to the referendum. Baudet replied: “People are saying Mr Klaver has a vagina, would he be willing to show his underpants?”

This baffled the room, with Martin Bosma, the president of the chamber, remarking it was “somewhat vulgar.”

Baudet went on to defend himself, saying the public prosecutor could investigate any credible indications about wrongdoing, even if such suggestions were insulting.

Rather than getting rich from politics, he then argued, his idealism had cost him dearly, politically, financially and in his social life. He and his allies had more integrity than other politicians, he said.

Klaver’s accusation was “at the limits of parliamentary eligibility”, in essence accusing him of treason, which was “a form of libel”, said Baudet.

Klaver was not entirely convinced, noting all politicians “pay a price” for their job but that FvD was the only party in Parliament that had created a private limited company for commercial activities.  FvD uses the company to sell books and “honest food”, it says.

When Klaver repeated he wanted FvD’s financial records during the 2016 referendum, Baudet argued all the relevant documents were easy to consult online.

He then argued the accusations about Russian money were concocted by someone in the pay of left-wing billionaire George Soros.

Baudet said he felt “his honour had been compromised,” and “in any other situation, I would punch you in the face.”

Again, the chamber president asked Baudet to moderate his language.

Baudet, however, reportedly repeated his threat after the debate to punch Klaver, who reported this to parliamentary authorities.

Bosma summoned Baudet to his office on the morning of March 28 to discuss the “unacceptable” incident.

“Boundaries and standards of decency have been crossed,” said Bosma, in an incident which “damages the prestige of Parliament and politics.”

Baudet, however, did not meet with Bosma–claiming he had kickbox training to attend.

He did, though, speak with Bosma by telephone, and said he got carried away in the debate.

Klaver calls the incident “a low point” and said he was happy the chamber president took swift action.

Baudet argues Klaver could not really have felt threatened, saying his colleague was “a snitch” and the entire parliamentary episode was “a ridiculous circus”.

Bosma, somewhat optimistically, said that Baudet appeared to have showed contrition with his apology. Existing regulations did not provide him with any means to intervene in this specific case, he noted.

While parliament had recently amended its rules of order, it had not occurred to parliamentarians “we could have incidents of violence in the plenary”.

Accordingly, Bosma will now sit with the Parliament board to find a remedy if a similar situation happens again.

Baudet began in politics by founding Forum for Democracy, a right-leaning, Eurosceptic think tank that afterwards evolved into a political organisation.

While the organisation quickly grew popular, it soon faced difficulties when internal messages were leaked suggesting racism and hard-right sympathies from the senders.

Party membership dropped, and during Coronavirus, Baudet developed a bent for conspiratorial thinking.

With the start of the war in Ukraine, his sympathies have appeared to lie with Russia.

Often positioning himself on the fringes of political debate, he also has sought to align himself with controversial influencers like the brothers Andrew and Tristan Tate–which has earned himself a small group of hardcore supporters, but also a growing number of enemies.

Which possibly explains the kickboxing.