Dutch PM supports Minister in racism spat with populist politician

Deputy Prime Minister Kasja Ollongren did not cross a line in her statements about new nationalist party FvD, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a letter to the Tweede Kamer on Thursday, AD reports.

While giving a lecture last week Friday, Ollongren, also Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, said that populism threatens the 'core values of democracy' and that the FvD goes farther in this than the PVV. She also said that the FvD seems obsessed with talking about race in the public debate. FvD leader Thierry Baudet pressed charges of slander an defamation against her, accusing her of "demonizing a people's representative" with her "slanderous remarks". 

In a letter to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, Rutte wrote that the government "renounces all forms of discrimination". While a judge must ultimately determine whether there was discrimination, the public debate is broader, he said. "It fits, also with personal examples, the Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations to participate in this."

This letter was in response to questions from PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher. He asked for clarity on whether Ollongren was speaking on behalf of the government during the lecture.

The FvD sees Rutte's answer as a confirmation that she did. On Twitter the party said that the "demonizing of the FvD by Deputy Prime Minister Ollongren is now cabinet policy". According to the party, Rutte is behind Ollongren's "slanderous statements".