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Former Greenpeace activist new Dutch Labour Party leader

Arrested ten times and paid fines

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM - Diederik Samsom, who was elected leader of the Dutch Labour party (PvdA) recently, has been arrested ten times by police during his tenure as a Greenpeace activist, he revealed in a recent daily newspaper interview.

Samsom was a Greenpeace activist, mainly agitating against nuclear energy, in the 1990s. Although he acknowledges he remembers being picked up by the police ten times, he denies he has a criminal record. According to him, he fined after these arrests, not charged and convicted. When fines are paid, the matter is settled.

Samsom does not think that his background as an environmental activist will be a problem for him in politics, pointing to his decade of service as a member of the Second Chamber. Until now, no one has made it an issue, says the newly minted leader, who left Greenpeace because he felt the organization was not achieving anything.

Only debates

He also said that he sat on parliament’s public tribune one time after a successful campaign, happy that parliament debated the issue. But other than debate the matter, the Second Chamber took no further action. Samsom who says he has no regrets over his time with Greenpeace, sees the GreenLeft (GL, GroenLinks) and the hardcore Socialist Party (SP) as his party's chief political allies. He regards the animal activist faction PVDA to be closer to the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) than to the progressive liberal D66.

Samson wants to concentrate his efforts on the PvdA. In surveying the political landscape, he sees the SP and GL (a merger party which includes the remnants of the Dutch Communist Party and other political radicals) playing on other parts of the field. The CDA plays a bit further away, he thinks.