(CNSNews.com) - A Dutch political party that failed to qualify to participate in the country's general election Wednesday has blamed harassment from "far right" elements that took issue with its pro-pedophilia platform.
The PNVD was forced to end its campaign recently after it was unable to obtain the signatures required for it to contest the election.
Although the party only needed 570 signatures - 30 from each of the Netherlands' 19 regions - and had failed to reach even that modest target, a conservative family organization in the U.S. warned that the episode should be taken seriously despite the fringe nature of the group.
"I think we should take it as warning here in America," said Janice Crouse, senior fellow at Concerned Women for America.
"Certainly this is coming here and there are people already in America who want to say that children enjoy sex and that children ought to be taught sex by adults," she said.
PNVD party secretary Norbert de Jonge told Cybercast News Service in a telephone interview that people who wanted to sign in support of the party's candidacy had been threatened and intimidated.
People who were willing to sign had been afraid that opponents - "especially right-wing parties and their fans" - would gather the names and addresses of signatories and harass them, he said.
"They were afraid that they would be made [out to be] pedophiles or that they would be outed if they actually were pedophiles," said de Jonge.
"And so people were afraid to sign. That's why eventually only a very small percentage of what we needed ... signed for our party."
PNVD's Dutch acronym transliterates to Party for Neighborly Love, Freedom, and Diversity. It bears the Latin motto "sapere aude" which means "Dare to know" or "Dare to be wise."
The party is known for lobbying to lower the age of sexual consent from 16 to 12 in the Netherlands and having the eventual goal of eliminating the age of consent entirely among other controversial issues.
De Jonge said the failure to gain enough signatures to run in the 2006 election was a setback but by no means a failure: The party would keep on trying and believed Dutch society's views on sex with children may shift by the next election.
"We're just not the kind of people to give up so we're going to continue, and maybe if we do not succeed in four years maybe we will succeed in eight years," he said.
Warning for US
De Jonge said the party had been encouraged by developments in recent years.
"We think that things are changing, because in the last 10 years or so, the whole aspect of pedophilia could not be discussed by anyone, especially not in the media," he asserted.
"Part of what we're trying to do is we're trying to change the mentality of the people. This is something we think is changing and ... we call that a small success in what we're doing as a party," de Jonge said.
Getting the required number of signatures would not be that difficult, he argued.
"We see that it is possible for people again to talk about this, and we think that's a good thing, because we don't want there to be any taboos. We don't need that many people to support us in order to be able to get a seat in the chamber."
Crouse said the situation in the Netherlands should trigger an alarm in the U.S.
She told Cybercast News Service that although the U.S. does not have a formal political party advocating pedophilia, the attitudes exist.
"The same arguments that they are using in the Netherlands are being used here in the United States. They just have not gained public attention in quite the same way and have not moved to launch a political campaign in quite the same way," she said.
"There's no question that this is the logical next step," continued Crouse.
"The radical left is going to push every door possible to see what will open and provide greater opportunity to do the kinds of things that they want to do that have supposedly no consequences. They want to convince the American public that anything anybody wants to do is okay," she said.
De Jonge insists that his party is not just for pedophiles but also promotes "child emancipation."
"People [need to] change the opinion. It's not just that we would do this for pedophiles but also that it's better for the child to have more freedom in regards to how they want to experience their sexuality and how they want to discover their sexuality."
The PNVD's platform also covers issues including legalization of what it calls "soft" drugs for 12-year-olds, vegetarianism, and radical expansion of social benefits.
De Jonge said the platform covered a much wider spectrum than pedophilia and expressed frustration that the child sex aspect had garnered the most attention. He freely admitted, however, that he and the party's two other leaders, are in fact pedophiles.
"Nearly the only thing that's being talked about with regard to our party is the pedophile aspect of it - that we want to change the age of consent," de Jonge said. "We do not agree. We are not a pedophile party. But personally I don't think it's strange that people started calling us a pedophile party because the board members - we are, all three of us - pedophiles."
Despite this, de Jonge said he wished the media would maintain "a much more neutral position" when reporting on the party.
"We want to break through taboos and dogmas in the hope to take away fear and intolerance."
Crouse cautioned that Americans should not dismiss such attitudes lightly.
"I would stress the fact that it would be easy to dismiss this story and say, well this is the Netherlands - that's how they are and many of the weird ideas that are in the public square come from the Netherlands," she said.
"But I think we should take it as a warning that there is nothing to keep people who are radical left in our country from taking encouragement from cases like this," Crouse added.
In Wednesday's parliamentary election, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's center-right Christian Democrats are facing a strong challenge from a left-leaning Labor-led alliance. The Netherlands has a population of 16.5 million, of which some 12.3 million are eligible to vote.
Subscribe to the free CNSNews.com daily E-brief.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.