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Pim Fortuyn

Wilhelmus Simon Petrus Fortuyn, known as Pim Fortuyn (February 19, 1948 - May 6, 2002), was a controversial politician in the Netherlands who was assassinated. An openly gay publicist who had formerly worked as a professor at Erasmus University[?], he had described himself at one time as "Marxist". He was a focus of controversy for his hostile views on Islam and his anti-immigration positions. He was opposed to Muslim immigrants such as Khalil el-Moumni, who he said refused to integrate into Netherland's society and formed a threat to the country's tolerant culture. He has been called a right-wing populist, but he himself rejected this label and distanced himself from right-wing politicians active in Austria and France. He could perhaps be described as a nationalist, but on cultural and not racial grounds.


Fortuyn was born on February 19, 1948, studied sociology in Amsterdam, and later worked as a lecturer at the Nijenrode Institute[?] and Groningen University[?]. In 1988 he moved to Rotterdam, becoming director of an organisation administering student transport cards. From 1991 to 1995 he was a professor at Erasmus University, holding the Albeda professorship in public service wage negotiation. When he left that position he made a career of public speaking and writing books and press columns, gradually became involved in politics.

On 26 November 2001 he was elected by a large majority as lijsttrekker (head of the list of candidates) for the newly formed Leefbaar Nederland party, for the parliamentary elections in May 2002. Several, mainly left-wing, members of his party resigned in protest at his appointment.

On 9 February 2002 he was interviewed by the Volkskrant newspaper (see below), where the statements that he made were controversial enough that he was sacked as lijsttrekker the next day. On 11 February he began to establish his own party, Lijst Pim Fortuyn. Many supporters of Leefbaar Nederland transferred their support to the new party.

As lijsttrekker for the Leefbaar Rotterdam[?] party, he achieved a major victory in the Rotterdam district council elections in early March 2002. The party obtained about 30% of the seats, making it the largest faction in the council.

On May 6, 2002, at age 54, he was killed by a gunman with bullets hitting him twice in the forehead, twice in the back and once in the neck. The attack took place in a carpark outside a radio studio in Hilversum where he had just given an interview. This was 9 days before the elections for the lower house of parliament, for which he was running. The attacker was pursued by witnesses and was arrested by the police shortly afterwards, still in possession of the gun, identified later as Volkert van der Graaf.

The murder shocked many in the Netherlands and put the preparations for the May 15, 2002 elections into turmoil. Politicians of all political parties suspended their campaigning. After consultation with Lijst Pim Fortuyn it was decided not to postpone the elections. However it was too late to modify the party lists, so Fortuyn became a posthumous candidate. Lijst Pim Fortuyn went on to record an unprecedented debut in the lower house of parliament, winning 26 seats (17% of the total 150 seats), becoming the second-largest faction in the house and taking part in the first Balkenende cabinet.

Fortuyn was buried on July 20, 2002 at Provesano di San Giorgio della Richinvelda[?], (Provesano[?]) in the province of Pordenone[?] in Italy, where he had owned a house.

Views on Islam and Immigration

In August 2001 he was quoted in the Rotterdams Dagblad (newspaper) as saying, among other things: "I am also in favour of a cold war with Islam. I see Islam as an extraordinary threat, as a hostile society" [1]. Various organisations filed official complaints under Dutch anti-discrimination laws against this statement.

On 9 February 2002 he made further controversial statements in a Dutch newspaper, this time the Volkskrant [5]. He said 16 million inhabitants of the Netherlands was enough, and allowing 40,000 asylum-seekers into the country each year had to be stopped. He guaranteed that if he became part of the next government, he would obtain an exceptionally restrictive immigration policy. He also said that he considered article 7 of the constitution, which asserts freedom of speech, more important then article 1, which forbids discrimination. However he distanced himself from Hans Janmaat of the Centrumpartij[?], who in the 1980s wanted to remove all foreigners from the country and was repeatedly prosecuted for discrimination and hate speech. Fortuyn said that everybody who was already in the Netherlands would be able to stay, with the exception of illegal immigrants from the Netherlands Antilles (the Volkskrant pointed out that they had the Dutch nationality and were in the country legally.) He said that he rejected all violence and had nothing against immigrants as a group, but would not allow any Muslims to enter the country if it was legally possible.

When asked if he hated Islam he said "I don't hate Islam. I consider it a backwards culture. I have travelled much in the world. And wherever Islam rules, it's terrible. All the hypocrisy. It's a bit like those old Reformed Protestants. The Reformed lie all the time. And why is that? Because they have norms and values that are so high that you can't humanly maintain them. You also see that in Muslim culture. Look at the Netherlands. In what land could a leader of such a large movement as mine be openly homosexual? It's fantastic that that's possible. That's something that we can be proud of. And I want to keep it that way." [2]

Other views

He said he was neither right wing or left wing, asked for more openness in politics and expressed his distaste for subsidy-socialism. He criticised the media as a Siamese twin[?] of the Government.

He wanted smaller-scale organisation of public services such as health, education and policing, making heavy use of the possibilities of information technology (e.g., a surgeon conduction an operation by remote control at a local hospital). Critics said his plans would require building hundreds or thousands of new institutions at enormous expense, however Fortuyn said no extra funds would be allocated until inefficiencies had been worked away.

He held socially liberal views, favoring the Drugs policy of the Netherlands, homosexual marriage and related positions.

He wanted to disband the army and air force, retaining only a navy, but also wanted to reinstate compulsory military service.


[1] Original quote in Dutch: "Ik ben ook voor een koude oorlog met de islam. De islam zie ik als een buitengewone bedreiging, als een ons vijandige samenleving."

[2] Original quote in Dutch: "Ik haat de islam niet. Ik vind het een achterlijke cultuur. Ik heb veel gereisd in de wereld. En overal waar de islam de baas is, is het gewoon verschrikkelijk. Al die dubbelzinnigheid. Het heeft wel iets weg van die oude gereformeerden. Gereformeerden liegen altijd. En hoe komt dat? Omdat ze een normen- en waardenstelsel hebben dat zo hoog ligt dat je dat menselijkerwijs niet kunt handhaven. Dat zie je in die moslimcultuur ook. Kijk dan naar Nederland. In welk land zou een lijsttrekker van een zo grote beweging als de mijne, openlijk homoseksueel kunnen zijn? Wat fantastisch dat dat kan. Daar mag je trots op zijn. En dat wil ik graag effe zo houden."

[4] A Milieu Defensie article with quotes of Pim Fortuyn dismissing environmentalism (Dutch) -- http://www.milieudefensie.nl/blad/2001/novdec2001/fortuyn.htm

[5] Volkskrant article (Dutch) -- http://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws/denhaag/1013147690985

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