New liberal MP under fire over tweets

Tweede Kamer
The Chairman's seat at the Tweede Kamerphoto: JanKranendonk / DepositPhotos

The VVD's newest parliamentarian Thierry Aartsen, who will replace Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert in the Tweede Kamer on Thursday, is facing criticism about comments he made on Twitter in the past. Despite the controversy, Aartsen can count on the support of faction leader Klaas Dikjhof. As far as he is concerned, Aartsen is "most welcome" in the VVD parliamentary faction, reports.

For example in 2009 Aartsen, currently VVD faction leader in Breda, posted a tweet showing little sympathy for a person who had committed suicide. "God dammit! Again someone in front of the train, so not getting further than Eindhoven! Suicides, get more creative", he wrote on the social media platform.

In 2016 he tweeted: "A wonderful evening of NAC: Zwarte Pieten in NAC shirts on the field and Ow Sylvana by Rob van Daal through the speakers. #humor." The song he mentions refers to black politician Sylvana Simons, who has been arguing for a non-blackface interpretation of the Pieten in the Netherlands' Sinterklaas celebrations, among other things. Simons received death threats in the past because of her position on this topic. 

The tweets prompted VVD alderman in Wormerland Rob Berkhout to call on Dikhoff and the VVD to block the appointment of Aartsen as a parliamentarian. "I can not imagine that we would like to have such a jerk", he said on Twitter. Bert Homan, VVD city councilor in Assen, called on Aarts to withdraw. "In the interest of the VVD and politics in general, you should withdraw. This can not be allowed", he aid on Twitter.

Parliamentary faction leader Dijkhoff called the tweets "stupid", but doesn't see them as reason enough to keep Aartsen out of the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament. "Let's also accept that people do things that are not smart", Dijkhoff said, according to the newspaper.