World Bulletin/News Desk
A senior aide to Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders has quit the eurosceptic Freedom Party, becoming the latest prominent figure to resign over the leader's anti-Moroccan comments.
The departures could weaken the party ahead of European parliamentary elections on May 22, with opinion polls showing it currently in second place, behind D66, a centrist liberal party that has benefited from the governing coalition's unpopularity.
Stephan Jansen, a parliamentary staffer described in Dutch media as Wilders' right-hand man, said in a letter published in the daily De Volkskrant on Wednesday that anti-Moroccan remarks by Wilders had marginalised the party.
"Our political leader's recent remarks about Moroccans mean that our party will never again be taken seriously," wrote Jansen, who is also a member for the party in a regional council. "No other party will ever want to work with us again."
A spokesman for the Freedom Party confirmed that Jansen had quit, but declined to comment further.
On Twitter, Wilders dismissed the idea that Jansen had been an important figure in the party. "Another of my right-hand men gone? I must be the Dutchman with the most right hands," he wrote.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte has ruled out working with Wilders after the incident last month when Wilders asked a crowd of supporters in The Hague whether they wanted "more or fewer" Moroccans. "Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!" the crowd chanted.
Wilders replied. "We'll take care of that."
Wilders later said he had only been referring to ethnic Moroccans who are disproportionately involved in violent crime and social benefits and not all Moroccan immigrants.
Two national lawmakers left the party last month in response to the remarks as did Laurence Stassen, a member of the European Parliament who had been due to head the list of candidates.
Prosecutors said they received more than 5,000 requests from the public to investigate Wilders for hate speech in connection with the chant, which caused the party to suffer a sharp but temporary dip in opinion polls.Last Mod: 23 Nisan 2014, 12:55