Senate Speaker Removed Wilders from King's Escort
THE HAGUE, 13/06/13 - Upper House Speaker Fred de Graaf used a ruse to avoid Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders obtaining a prominent role in the investiture of Willem-Alexander as king.
Wilders was to have been part of an escort committee of five MPs who would guide Willem-Alexander and his wife Maxima on their arrival and leaving the Nieuwe Kerk church, where the change of monarch took place on 30 April. De Graaf acknowledged in De Volkskrant newspaper on Wednesday that he avoided this because he “preferred not to have (Wilders) along.”
"In the back of my mind, it certainly played a role that the sight of Wilders next to the king would have drawn much attention,” says conservative (VVD) party member De Graaf in the paper. The Senate Speaker, responsible for the ceremony, wanted an event “without political ado.”
Wilders announced he will request an explanation. “If this is true, De Graaf has thrown away his impartiality and he must resign as Senate Speaker.” Other parties also consider De Graaf’s behaviour inappropriate.
Seniority was the basis for deciding which five parliamentarians (the Speaker, two Lower House MPs and two Senators) would accompany Willem-Alexander. Wilders is one of the longest-serving MPs. But De Graaf asked small Christian party SGP’s Kees van der Staaij to replace SGP Senator Holdijk, as a result of which Wilders was no longer in the picture.
Wilders says in the paper that he heard at a certain point that he should expect to come onto the committee. After that, however, he heard nothing. “When my secretary enquired, she was given the brush-off everywhere. Until we eventually heard who was on the committee.”