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Bastiaan Rijpkema on political party ban in De Volkskrant

The proposal by Dutch political party D66 to amend a section of law to make it possible to ban a political party is unwise, says legal philosopher Bastiaan Rijpkema. He discussed this in length in an interview with Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. ‘It is abundantly clear that this is meant to target one specific party: Forum voor Democratie.’

Bastiaan Rijpkema

When, in 2015, Rijpkema told people about his book ‘Weerbare democratie’ (Resilient democracy) - that addresses the question: should a democracy ban anti-democracy parties, and if so, in which circumstances? – the Leiden University legal philosopher was often asked why that was a relevant issue. There were no parties threatening the democracy, were there?

Now, seven years later, a ban on political parties is openly, and with some urgency, being discussed in newspapers and on talk shows. Politics has rather failed to act on time and that is a shame, argues Rijpkema, because now the debate on the issue has only become more complicated than is necessary.

‘Politics should have acted and revised the legislation on the matter at at time when there was no acute threat of an anti-democracy party’, says Rijpkema (35), Endowed Professor of Tolerance. 'The debate on banning political parties has now been hijacked by the ongoing commotion about Forum voor Democratie. Which will make it appear as if the government is on a mission to eliminate the FvD should a new legislative proposal be submitted. In parliament, there has been talk of "tribunals" for some time now and if they were to start a debate on a party ban, things could get really difficult.’

More information

You can read the full article (in Dutch) on the website of de Volkskrant.

Rijpkema won the Prinsjesboekenprijs, an award for the best political book of the year in 2016 with his book ‘Weerbare Democratie’. This week, a book ‘Een nieuw commentaar op de Grondwet’ will be published. The book is edited by Rijpkema in collaboration with Afshin Elian and includes contributions from a large number of legal experts and legal philosophers. The book is a plea for a more vibrant ‘constitutional culture’ and more ready knowledge of the Constitution – also to be able to respond more adequately to radicals and extremists. The first copy will be presented to Prime Minister Mark Rutte in his office in the Torentje on Thursday.

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