- Police have arrested a person on suspicion of involvement in the attack
The leader of a far-right Dutch populist party was taken to hospital after being violently attacked with a beer bottle during an election campaign meeting.
Video posted on social media showed Thierry Baudet, leader of Forum for Democracy, speaking to people in a bar in the northern city of Groningen on Monday evening when a man wielding a an apparent beer bottle lunged at him.
The politician was greeting patrons when the man suddenly and violently hit him next to his eye and on the side of the head at least three times. Baudet was quickly escorted away as bystanders overpowered his attacker.
Baudet, 40, was taken to a nearby hospital and treated by a trauma surgeon, his party confirmed. It said a security guard also was injured.
Police have arrested a person on suspicion of involvement in the attack. The alleged attacker’s motive remains under investigation.
The attack comes just two days before the Netherlands will hold its general election.
Police have confirmed that Baudet was assaulted on Monday evening in a bar in Groningen.
Spokesman Thijs de Jong said: ‘What we can say at the moment is that Mr. Baudet was hit on the head, possibly with an object.’
The officer said he could not give further details or comment on Baudet’s condition.
But the politician’s Forum for Democracy party said on X, formerly Twitter, that ‘it looks like everything will all be alright’.
The party added that an event that had been planned for later Monday in another city had been cancelled ‘in connection with the health and security’ of him. It did not elaborate.
The attack marks the second time that Baudet has been attacked in recent weeks.
Last month, he suffered a light concussion after being hit on the head with an umbrella at an event held at the Ghent University campus in Belgium.
Both assaults sparked furious reactions by Dutch politicians from across the political spectrum and calls for increased security for politicians.
Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted on Monday that it was ‘totally unacceptable that Thierry Baudet has been attacked again. I said it before and I repeat it now firmly: Don’t touch politicians.’
Rutte said he had contacted Baudet to wish him good health.
More than two decades ago, another populist Dutch politician, Pim Fortuyn, was assassinated just days before a 2002 national election.
Fortuyn, a populist anti-immigration politician, was attacked after giving a radio interview while on the campaign trail.
His attacker, Volkert van der Graaf, an animal and environmental rights activist, was arrested at the scene and later sentenced to 18 years in jail.
Van der Graaf was released on parole in 2014.
Baudet, who has been regarded as a controversial lawmaker after pushing various conspiracy theories and being outspoken in his support of Moscow, is running to keep his seat in parliament.
His Forum for Democracy party leapt to prominence in provincial elections in 2019, where it was the winner with more than 1 million votes. It has since been troubled by internal discontent but still holds five seats in the 150-seat lower house of the Dutch parliament.
A poll published Monday night predicted Forum for Democracy would win between three and five seats in the election. Another populist right-wing party, the Party for Freedom led by anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, ranked second in the poll and was forecast to win 22 to 28 seats.
In 2020, Baudet resigned as the party’s leader amid criticism of his handling of accusations of extreme-right views held by some members of the party’s youth wing. He was overwhelmingly returned as leader in a vote among party members.