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Half of local, regional politicians face aggression

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Nearly half of mayors, city councilors, and members of State faced aggression or harassment in the past year. That is almost double compared to 2014, when a quarter of local and provincial politicians and representatives were confronted with this.

Over a third of civil servants also had to deal with aggression or violence in 2021, according to the Integrity and Security Monitor 2022 that Minister Hanke Bruins Slot of Home Affairs sent to parliament.

“These are really intense figures,” said Bruins Slot. “The growth has been very sharp, especially in recent years.” She does not see any apparent causes but will investigate them in the near future.

“We really want to get a clear picture of what it’s all about.” The threats are very diverse, she said. “It’s terrible death threats. It’s name-calling. But whatever it is, it is unacceptable.”

The Minister cannot yet say whether the far-reaching coronavirus measures caused the increasing aggression. What is clear is that during the Covid-19 period, there was a shift from physical to online threats and harassment.

The Minister regularly speaks to mayors and aldermen, and they say that threats and intimidation are also part of the job. She strongly opposes that. “We should never find this normal and acceptable in our democracy.”

Bruins Slot wants to increase politicians’ and civil servants’ willingness to report such incidents. “Then the police and the Public Prosecution Service (OM) can do something about it. Aggression, threats, and harassment are not normal. Work on it. Report it and press charges.”

During this Cabinet term, the government made 100 million euros available to take measures against this.

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