De puinhopen van acht jaar Paars
|Cover artist||Select Interface|
|Subject||Various political issues, from healthcare reform to immigration policy.|
|Publisher||Karakter (Uithoorn), Speakers Academy (Rotterdam)|
|de facto: March 12, 2002
officially: March 14, 2002
|LC Class||JN5801 .F674 2002|
De puinhopen van acht jaar Paars (Dutch: [də ˈpœynoːpən vAn Aɣt jaːr ˈpaːrs] ( ), English: The Wreckage of Eight Purple Years) is a political non-fiction book released by the Dutch political commentator and aspiring lawmaker Pim Fortuyn in 2002; two months prior to his assassination. Inside the book, Fortuyn sharply criticizes the then ruling "Purple" coalition government and its direct predecessor (both composed of PvdA, VVD and D66) on nearly all areas of their policies.
The book went on to become the first and only bestselling hit for Fortuyn, whose previous writing career had not yielded him any large scale successes yet. Being reprinted more than nine times, Puinhopen eventually sold 270.000 copies.
De puinhopen van acht jaar paars was branded by many Dutch media and Pim Fortuyn himself as the official election manifesto of the Pim Fortuyn List (of which Fortuyn was the founder and lijsttrekker), but Fortuyn later detracted from these claims.
In August 2001, Pim Fortuyn declared he was going to enter national politics. Although at that time Fortuyn had not yet aligned himself with the recently founded Livable Netherlands, he did express his intention to release a book later on that year which would be titled Acht jaar wachtlijsten (Eight years of waiting lists) and would reflect on the two consecutive Purple administrations. When Livable Netherlands asked him to be their lijsttrekker, Fortuyn declared that their electoral manifesto had to be in line with his upcoming book.
Acht jaar wachtlijsten was at first to be released by the formerly Marxist publisher Van Gennep, which had also published a previous work of Fortuyn's. However, Van Gennep parted ways with Fortuyn when he became close to confirmation as lijsttrekker of Livable Netherlands. Van Gennep cited the incompatibility between their Marxist roots and the political positions of Livable Netherlands – especially on matters like immigration policy - as the reason behind the split. Karakter B.V. would take over from Van Gennep.
After Fortuyn and Livable Netherlands ended their cooperation, Fortuyn founded his own party called the "Pim Fortuyn List". Whenever asked what his new party's policies were going to be, Fortuyn made a habit out of referring to his soon to be published book as the answer to that question.
In February 2002, Fortuyn reported to de Volkskrant that this book was now going to be called De puinhopen van acht jaar Paars. At this occasion, he also claimed his rationale for authoring it was the laziness of the Dutch media. "As you may know, the press is too lazy to read anyway. So I have summarized my thirteen books in De puinhopen van acht jaar Paars," Fortuyn was quoted as saying.
Fortuyn has divided De puinhopen van acht jaar Paars into ten chapters (including an epilogue). All of these chapters address one aspect of the Purple government's policies which, in Fortuyn's view, required "unreserved criticism." Such as they were, the chapters were called politics (this chapter also served as an introduction to the rest of the book), healthcare, education, security, restyling of the welfare state, agriculture and infrastructure, public government, immigration policy and lastly foreign affairs.
Release of the book was planned for March 14, but Puinhopen was accidentally available two days earlier due to the publisher forgetting to mention the embargo to the book shops, which would have ruled out selling of the book prior to March 14. In many stores, the book was already available March 12 and sold out immediately on this first day of being released, in spite of not being officially presented yet. With the initial print of 10.000 already being nearly sold-out by March 13, a second pressing had already been ordered one day prior, again consisting of 10.000 copies.
Fortuyn's assassionation on May 6 helped to augment the sales of Puinhopen even further. Between May 6 and May 16, 2002, Karakter had to order three new prints together consisting of over 25.000 copies. This brought the total circulation up until that point to 125.000.
The book went on to become one of the biggest commercial hits of Dutch literature in 2002, selling over 150.000 copies in the year of its release alone. In addition, De puinhopen van acht jaar paars became the best-selling non-fiction book in the Netherlands in said year, as well as the third overall best-selling book (after Nicci French's Land of the Living and Donna Tartt's The Little Friend). Puinhopen also became the best selling book in the Netherlands of 2002 written by a Dutch author.
Large scale selling of De puinhopen van acht jaar paars had been halted in the summer of 2002. However, in May 2003, around the first commemoration of Fortuyn's death, Puinhopen saw a small sales figure jump, with book stores purchasing "hundreds" of copies to sell to their customers.
In the run-up to the tenth commemoration of Fortuyn's death in 2012, Karakter announced the total sales of Puinhopen to be 270.000. On May 14 of that year, an e-book version of the book was released.
On March 14, Fortuyn officially presented De puinhopen van acht jaar Paars in the political society Nieuwspoort (news gate) in The Hague. The event garnered massive press attendance as Fortuyn had become a major agenda setter. During the conference, Fortuyn was pied by members of the Biologische bakkers Brigade (literally: the biological bakers' brigade), a radical left-wing movement who claimed that Fortuyn's "racism" should not be given "a voice," as well as wishing Fortuyn's party would set course to "zero seats" in the upcoming elections. On her way out of Nieuwspoort, one of the perpetrators claimed she attacked Fortuyn with a pie because she felt what she referred to as Fortuyn's racism was not a matter of opinion, but should be treated as a felony.
After this incident, Fortuyn began expressing his fear of being murdered. After resumation of the event, when Fortuyn had washed the fecal matter of the pie off of himself – he scaulded prime minister Wim Kok for not being a prime minister who protected all of his citizens. Fortuyns supporters also blamed the attending journalists for not doing anything to stop the pie attacks.
Television news programme NOS Journaal's Job Frieszo reviewed the book on its release day, claiming it is "unusual" for an election manifesto to reflect the opinion of just one individual. Ideas like withdrawing from the Schengen Agreement were branded "unrealistic." Current affairs show Nova / Den Haag Vandaag claimed it was the "funniest election manifesto so far."
Writing an op-ed in May 2012, De Volkskrant-columnist Martin Sommer claimed Puinhopen was "indeed an unusual pamphlet". Citing Fortuyns reference to his departed mother and his colorful language, Sommer saw a world of differences between Puinhopen and election manifestos of for instance the CDA and PvdA parties.
NRC Handelsblad's Hubert Smeets compared Fortuyn to a burglar in a generally negative review, in which the duplicity of Fortuyn's own ideas was rejected by the reviewer. "Things could get crowded with shopping carts and carbon boxes in the hallways of the non-privatised railway stations or other indoor places," he concludes.
De Telegraaf's Kees Lunshof was negative as well, claiming Puinhopen was "pubtalk", "nonsense" and "asocial", whereas Het Parool writer Kees Tamboer praised Fortuyns plans for Dutch law on sick leave.
Political response to Puinhopen came immediately. On March 14, while the press conference on the book's release was still going on, members of the Socialist Party approached Fortuyn with a pamphlet containing their party's analysis of Fortuyn's views. It was titled "Leest u zijn boeken maar – de pimpelpaarse antwoorden van Pim Fortuyn" ("Just read his books – the deep purple responses from Pim Fortuyn"), concluding Fortuyn embraced right-wing solutions to problems caused by right-wing politics. According to the socialists, Fortuyn would there be even more purple than Purple itself. However, SP leader Jan Marijnissen also lambasted other political leaders who thought reading the book was not worth their time.
Lijsttrekker of the CDA, Jan Peter Balkenende, agreed with the SP's critizism that Fortuyn offered only purple solutions. Balkenende was negative about Fortuyn's "return to the government" when looking for solutions, as well as declining to increase spending in healthcare and education.
Criticism from the ruling PvdA and VVD was largely negative. Although prime minister Wim Kok considered Puinhopen to be "a good read," he blasted Fortuyn for introducing "the most abhorrent accusations" against his administration. According to Kok, Fortuyn's claims were "on the edge of being acceptable." Lijsttrekker of the PvdA Ad Melkert stated Fortuyn would make the Netherlands "less strong, and less social." VVD party leader Hans Dijkstal stated that he "held his breath" when reading through the book, and lamented the absence of a paragraph stating the financial consequences of Fortuyn's ideas.
The title of the book (sometimes simply stated as "De puinhopen van Paars") has gained widespread notoriety to depict the policies of the first and the second Kok cabinet in a negative way. Occasionally the term is also applied to the second Rutte cabinet (most ostensibly by Geert Wilders) or as a synonym for Fortuyn's 2002 general elections campaign.
A sequel to Puinhopen was announced by Fortuyn on the last page of the book. Fortuyn promised the reader he would dwell on his successess and failings in his parliamentary career in the successor to Puinhopen, which had been planned to be released at the end of the next legislature in four years time. This sequel was never realized, because Fortuyn was shot and killed on May 6, 2002.
On April 25 a group of Dutch comedians released a book parodying Puinhopen called De puinhopen van professor Pim Fortuyn (The Wreckage of Professor Pim Fortuyn). According to its authors, the aim was to show the audience that everyone was able to write a book full of "stupid plans". Although initial sales were good and showed the parody book sold 10.000 copies within the first few days of its public availability, it was pulled off the market following Fortuyn's death in early May.
Puinhopen also inspired Flemish N-VA politician Geert Bourgeois to write De puinhoop van paars-groen (English The wreckage of purple-green) in late 2002, which – like Fortuyn's manifesto in the Netherlands – had been written to attack the then current cabinet of Belgium. According to Bourgeois, using the word "puinhopen" was the only justifiable option to summarize three years of Purple-Green.
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