Saturday, April 16, 2005

Pie-throwers get "no" money

A political row has erupted in Holland after an anarchist group, infamous for targeting political figures with "custard pies", has been awarded €40,000 by the Referendum Commission as an official participant in the EU referendum campaign.

Anti-constitution campaigners suspect the funding has been awarded deliberately to discredit the "no" campaign. Hans van Baalen, an MP for the Liberty Party (VVD), accused the Referendum Commission of making a "big mistake" and has demanded an explanation from the Interior and European Affairs Ministries.

The money was paid to EuroDusnie, acting on behalf of anarchist group Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg, which plans to use the money for a festival of "debate and music" in Leiden in May.

Two members of EuroDusnie, which describes itself as an "anti-capitalist collective", were involved in an incident on 14 March 2002 when pies were thrown at Pim Fortuyn. The pies were allegedly laced with urine. The collective has also been linked to pie-throwing attacks on former EU commissioner Frits Bolkestein and the Dutch finance minister Gerrit Zalm in 1999.

Fortuyn's LPF party has also reacted angrily to the payment. LPF leader Gerard Van As said the world appeared to be turned on its head as "bad behaviour was once again being rewarded". He said it was "doubly painful" because the LPF was not getting any funding for its campaign against the EU constitution.

Meanwhile despite rumours to the contrary, The Netherlands will vote on the EU constitution on 1 June, even if the French reject it three days earlier. This has been confirmed by European affairs minister Atzo Nicolaï, in a letter to the Dutch Socialist Party, in which he said the referendum would go ahead regardless of the outcome in France.

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