Pim Fortuyn on 4 May 2002, two days before his assassination (Photo: Roy Beusker)
|Born||Wilhelmus Simon Petrus Fortuijn
19 February 1948
|Died||6 May 2002
|Cause of death||Assassinated|
|Resting place||San Giorgio della Richinvelda, Italy|
|Other names||Pim Fortuijn|
|Alma mater||VU University Amsterdam (Bachelor of Social Science, Master of Social Science)
University of Groningen (Doctor of Philosophy)
|Occupation||Politician · Civil servant · Sociologist
Corporate director · Political consultant · Political pundit · Author · Columnist · Publisher · Teacher · Professor
|Political party||Labour Party (1974–1989)
People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (mid 1990s)
Livable Netherlands (2001–2002)
Livable Rotterdam (2001–2002)
Pim Fortuyn List (2002)
Wilhelmus Simon Petrus Fortuijn, known as Pim Fortuyn (Dutch: [ˈpɪm fɔrˈtœyn] ( listen); 19 February 1948 – 6 May 2002), was a Dutch politician, civil servant, sociologist, author and professor who formed his own party, Pim Fortuyn List (Lijst Pim Fortuyn or LPF) in 2002.
Fortuyn was often regarded as controversial due to his outspoken views about multiculturalism, immigration and Islam in the Netherlands. He called Islam "a backward culture", and was quoted as saying that if it were legally possible, he would close the borders for Muslim immigrants. He was labelled a far-right populist by his opponents and in the media, but he fiercely rejected this label. Fortuyn was openly gay.
Fortuyn explicitly distanced himself from "far-right" politicians such as the Belgian Filip Dewinter, the Austrian Jörg Haider, or Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Pen whenever compared to them. While he compared his own politics to centre-right politicians such as Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, he also admired former Dutch Prime Minister Joop den Uyl, a social democrat, and Democratic U.S. president John F. Kennedy. Fortuyn also criticised the Polder model and the policies of the outgoing government of Wim Kok and repeatedly described himself and LPF's ideology as pragmatic and not populistic.
Fortuyn was assassinated during the 2002 Dutch national election campaign by Volkert van der Graaf. In court at his trial, van der Graaf said he murdered Fortuyn to stop him from exploiting Muslims as "scapegoats" and targeting "the weak members of society" in seeking political power.
Early life and education
Fortuyn was born on 19 February 1948 in Driehuis, as the third child to a Catholic family. In 1967 he began to study sociology at the University of Amsterdam but transferred after a few months to the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. In 1971 he ended his study with the Academic degree Doctorandus. In 1981 he received a doctorate in sociology at the University of Groningen as a Doctor of Philosophy.
Fortuyn worked as a lecturer at the Nyenrode Business Universiteit and as an associate professor at the University of Groningen, where he taught Marxist sociology. He was a Marxist at the time. Later, he joined the Labour Party.
In 1989 Fortuyn became director of a government organisation administering student transport cards. In 1990 he moved to Rotterdam. From 1991 to 1995, he was an extraordinary professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, appointed to the Albeda-chair in "employment conditions in public service".
When his contract ended, he made a career of public speaking and writing books and press columns, gradually becoming involved in politics. Fortuyn was openly gay, and said in a 2002 interview that he was Catholic.
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In 1992 Fortuyn wrote "Aan het volk van Nederland" (To the people of the Netherlands), declaring he was the successor to the charismatic but controversial 18th-century Dutch politician Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Pol. A one-time communist and former member of the social-democratic Labour Party, Fortuyn was elected "lijsttrekker" of the newly formed Livable Netherlands party by a large majority on 26 November 2001, prior to the Dutch general election of 2002.
On 9 February 2002, he was interviewed by the Volkskrant, a Dutch newspaper (see below). His statements were considered so controversial that the party dismissed him as lijsttrekker the next day. Fortuyn had said that he favoured putting an end to Muslim immigration, if possible and wanted to abolish Article 1 of the Dutch constitution, the equality before the law. Having been rejected by Livable Netherlands, Fortuyn founded his own party Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) on 11 February 2002. Many Livable Netherlands supporters transferred their support to the new party.
Heading the list of the Livable Rotterdam party, a local issues party, he achieved a major victory in the Rotterdam municipal council elections in early March 2002. The new party won about 36% of the seats, making it the largest party in the council. For the first time since the Second World War, the Labour Party was out of power in Rotterdam.
Fortuyn's victory made him the subject of hundreds of interviews during the next three months, and he made many statements about his political ideology. In March he released his book The Mess of Eight Purple Years (De puinhopen van acht jaar Paars), which he used as his political agenda for the upcoming general election. Purple is the colour to indicate a coalition government consisting of left parties (red) and conservative-liberal parties (blue). The Netherlands had been governed by such a coalition for eight years at that time.
On 6 May 2002, at age 54, Fortuyn was assassinated in Hilversum, North Holland, by Volkert van der Graaf. The attack took place in a parking lot outside a radio studio where Fortuyn had just given an interview. This was nine days before the general election, for which he was running. The attacker was pursued by Hans Smolders, Fortuyn's driver, and was arrested by the police shortly afterward, still in possession of a handgun. Months later, Van der Graaf confessed in court to the first notable political assassination in the Netherlands since 1672 (excluding World War II), and on 15 April 2003, he was convicted of assassinating Fortuyn and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He was released on parole in May 2014 after serving two thirds of his sentence, the standard procedure under the Dutch penal system.
The assassination shocked many residents of the Netherlands and highlighted the cultural clashes within the country. Various conspiracy theories arose after Pim Fortuyn's murder and deeply affected Dutch politics and society. Politicians from all parties suspended campaigning. After consultation with LPF, the government decided not to postpone the elections. As Dutch law did not permit modifying the ballots, Fortuyn became a posthumous candidate. The LPF made an unprecedented debut in the House of Representatives by winning 26 seats (17% of the 150 seats in the house). The LPF joined a cabinet with the Christian Democratic Appeal and the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, but conflicts in the rudderless LPF quickly collapsed the cabinet, forcing new elections. By the following year, the party had lost support, winning only eight seats in the 2003 elections. It won no seats in the 2006 elections, by which time the Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders, had emerged as a successor.
During the last months of his life, Fortuyn had become closer to the Catholic Church. To the surprise of many commentators and Dutch TV hosts, Fortuyn insisted on Fr. Louis Berger, a parish priest from The Hague, accompanying him in some of his last TV appearances. According to the New York Times, Berger had become his "friend and confessor" during the last weeks of his life.
Views on Islam and immigration
When asked about his opposition to Muslim immigration, Fortuyn explained that, "I have no desire to go through the emancipation of women and homosexuals all over again." In August 2001, Fortuyn was quoted in the Rotterdams Dagblad newspaper saying, "I am also in favour of a cold war with Islam. I see Islam as an extraordinary threat, as a hostile religion." In the TV program Business class, Fortuyn said that Muslims in the Netherlands did not accept Dutch society; he believed that the religion of Islam was fundamentally intolerant and incompatible with Western values. He said that Muslims in the Netherlands needed to accept living together with the Dutch, and that if this was unacceptable for them, then they were free to leave. His concluding words in the TV program were "... I want to live together with the Muslim people, but it takes two to tango."
On 9 February 2002, additional statements made by him were carried in the Volkskrant. He said that the Netherlands, with a population of 16 million, had enough inhabitants, and the practice of allowing as many as 40,000 asylum-seekers into the country each year had to be stopped. The actual number for 2001 was 27,000, down slightly on the previous year. He claimed that if he became part of the next government, he would pursue a restrictive immigration policy while also granting citizenship to a large group of illegal immigrants.
He said that he did not intend to "unload our Moroccan hooligans" onto the Moroccan King Hassan. Hassan had died three years earlier. He considered Article 7 of the constitution, which asserts freedom of speech, of more importance than Article 1, which forbids discrimination on the basis of religion, life principles, political inclination, race, or sexual preference. Fortuyn distanced himself from Hans Janmaat of the Centrum Democraten, who in the 1980s wanted to remove all foreigners from the country and was repeatedly convicted for discrimination and hate speech.
Fortuyn proposed that all people who already resided in the Netherlands would be able to stay, but he emphasized the need of the immigrants to adopt Dutch society's consensus on human rights as their own. He said "If it were legally possible, I'd say no more Muslims will get in here", claiming that the influx of Muslims would threaten freedoms in the liberal Dutch society. He thought Muslim culture had never undergone a process of modernisation and therefore still lacked acceptance of democracy and women's, gays', lesbians' and minorities' rights. He feared Muslims would try to replace the Dutch legal system with the shari'a law.
When asked by the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant whether he hated Islam, he replied:
I don't hate Islam. I consider it a backward culture. I have travelled much in the world. And wherever Islam rules, it's just 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 standards and values that are so high that you can't humanly maintain them. You also see that in that Muslim culture. Then look at the Netherlands. In what country could an electoral leader of such a large movement as mine be openly homosexual? How wonderful that that's possible. That's something that one can be proud of. And I'd like to keep it that way, thank you very much.
Fortuyn used the word achterlijk, literally meaning "backward", but commonly used as an insult in the sense of "retarded". After his use of "achterlijk" caused an uproar, Fortuyn said he had used the word with its literal meaning of "backward".
The ideology or political style that is derived from Pim Fortuyn, and in turn the LPF, is often called Fortuynism. Observers variously saw him as a political protest targeting the alleged elitism and bureaucratic style of the Dutch purple coalitions or as offering an appealing political style. The style was characterized variously as one "of openness, directness and clearness", populism or simply as charisma. Another school holds Fortuynism as a distinct ideology, with an alternative vision of society. Some argued that Fortuynism was not just one ideology, but contained liberalism, populism and nationalism.
During the 2002 campaign, Fortuyn was accused of being on the "extreme right", although others saw only certain similarities. While he employed anti-immigration rhetoric, he was neither a radical nationalist nor a defender of traditional authoritarian values. On the contrary, Fortuyn wanted to protect the socio-culturally liberal values of the Netherlands, women's rights and sexual minorities (he was openly homosexual himself), from the "backward" Islamic culture. He held liberal views favouring the drug policy of the Netherlands, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and related positions.
His ideology can be comprised in the following positions:
- Civil liberties
- Classical liberalism
- Criticism of Islam
- Direct democracy
- Freedom of speech
- LGBT rights
- Separation of church and state
- Small government
- Women's rights
Fortuyn was compared with the politicians Jörg Haider and Jean-Marie Le Pen in the foreign press. These comparisons were often referred to by Dutch reporters and politicians. An explicit comparison with Le Pen was made by Ad Melkert, then lijsttrekker of the Labour Party, who said in Emmen on 24 April 2002: "If you flirt with Fortuyn, then in the Netherlands the same thing will happen as happened in France. There they woke up with Le Pen, soon we will wake up with Fortuyn."
On 5 May, the day before the assassination, Fortuyn debated with Melkert in a debate organized by the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper about demonization of himself. In it he said that he often had to tell journalists that the image created of him in the media was incorrect.
Columnist Jan Blokker wrote "After reading (...) I realized once again that Professor Pim may really be called the Jean-Marie Le Pen, the Filip Dewinter, the Jörg Haider and the new Hans Janmaat of the Netherlands."
Fortuyn changed the Dutch political landscape and political culture. The 2002 elections, only weeks after Fortuyn's death, were marked by large losses for the liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and especially the social democratic Labour Party (whose parliamentary group was halved in size); both parties replaced their leaders shortly after their losses. The election winners were the Pim Fortuyn List, and the Christian democratic Christian Democratic Appeal. Some commentators in the mainstream political class speculated that Fortuyn's perceived martyrdom created greater support for the LPF, hence that party's brief surge to 17% of the electoral vote and 26 of the 150 seats in the Dutch Parliament. Although the LPF was able to form a coalition with the Christian Democratic Appeal and the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, it was bereft with internal strife and quickly lost steam. The coalition cabinet of Jan Peter Balkenende fell within three months, due to infighting within the LPF. In the following elections, the LPF was left with only eight seats in parliament (out of 150) and was not included in the new government. Political commentators speculated that discontented voters might vote for a non-traditional party, if a viable alternative was at hand. Later, the right-wing Party for Freedom, which has a strong stance on immigration, proposing to deport criminal, unemployed or not assimilated non-western immigrants, won nine (out of 150) seats in the 2006 elections and peaked at 24 in 2010.
The Netherlands has made its asylum policy more strict. Opponents of Fortuynism—like Paul Rosenmöller, Thom de Graaf, and Ad Melkert, (all labelling Fortuyn as a right-wing extremist)—have objected to what they think is a harsher political and social climate, especially towards immigrants and Muslims.
Contemporary Dutch politics is more polarized than it has been in recent years, especially on the issues for which Fortuyn was best known. People debate the success of their multicultural society, and whether they need to better assimilate newcomers. The government's decision to expel numerous asylum seekers whose applications had failed was controversial. Fortuyn had advocated an amnesty for asylum seekers already residing in the Netherlands.
In 2004, in a TV show, Fortuyn was chosen as De Grootste Nederlander ("Greatest Dutchman of all-time"), followed closely by William of Orange, the leader of the independence war that established the precursor to the present-day Netherlands. The election was not considered representative, as it was held by viewers' voting through the internet and by phoning in. Theo van Gogh had been murdered a few days before by a Muslim, which likely affected people's voting in the TV contest for Fortuyn. The program later revealed that William of Orange had received the most votes, but many could not be counted until after the official closing time of the television show (and the proclamation of the winner), due to technical problems. The official rules of the show said that votes counted before the end of the show would be decisive, but it was suggested that all votes correctly cast before the closing of the vote would be counted. Following the official rules, the outcome was not changed.
Right-wing politicians gained power after Fortuyn's death, such as former Minister for Integration & Immigration Rita Verdonk and the prominent critic of Islam, Member of the House of Representatives Geert Wilders. These politicians often focused on the debate over cultural assimilation and integration.
- Het zakenkabinet Fortuyn (A.W. Bruna, 1994)
- Beklemmend Nederland (A.W. Bruna, 1995), (ISBN 90-229-8234-3)
- Uw baan staat op de tocht!: Het einde van de overlegeconomie (A.W. Bruna, 1995) (ISBN 978-90-229-8264-8
- Tegen de islamisering van onze cultuur: Nederlandse identiteit als fundament (A.W. Bruna, 1997), (ISBN 90-229-8338-2)
- Zielloos Europa (Bruna, 1997), (ISBN 90-229-8352-8)
- 50 jaar Israel, hoe lang nog?: Tegen het tolereren van fundamentalisme (Bruna, 1998), (ISBN 90-229-8407-9)
- De derde revolutie (bruna, 1999)
- De verweesde samenleving (Karakter Uitgevers, 2002) (ISBN 90-6112-931-1)
- De puinhopen van acht jaar Paars (Karakter Uitgevers, 2002), (ISBN 90-6112-911-7)
- 06/05, a film based upon the murder of Pim Fortuyn
- Margry, Peter Jan: The Murder of Pim Fortuyn and Collective Emotions. Hype, Hysteria, and Holiness in the Netherlands? published in the Dutch magazine Etnofoor: Antropologisch tijdschrift nr. 16 pages 106–131, 2003,English version available online
- (in Dutch) "Volkskrant newspaper interview (summary)". Archived from the original on 12 February 2002. Retrieved 12 February 2002.
- "Cf. this BBC interview". 4 May 2002. Archived from the original on 20 October 2002. Retrieved 21 July 2007.
- "Interview with Belgium news agency".
- Simons, Marlise (7 May 2002). "Rightist Candidate in Netherlands Is Slain, and the Nation Is Stunned". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
- James, Barry (7 May 2002). "Assailant shoots gay who railed against Muslim immigrants: Rightist in Dutch election is murdered". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
- Simons, Marlise (8 May 2002). "Elections to Proceed in the Netherlands, Despite Killing". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
- Fortuyn killed 'to protect Muslims', The Daily Telegraph, 28 March 2003:
- [van der Graaf] said his goal was to stop Mr. Fortuyn exploiting Muslims as "scapegoats" and targeting "the weak parts of society to score points" to try to gain political power.
- Fortuyn killer 'acted for Muslims', CNN, 27 March 2003:
- Van der Graaf, 33, said during his first court appearance in Amsterdam on Thursday that Fortuyn was using "the weakest parts of society to score points" and gain political power.
- "Jihad Vegan". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 6 December 2008. , Dr Janet Parker 20 June 2005, New Criminologist
- Eyck, Mark (15 February 2002). "Interview: Pim Fortuyn". Katholiek Nieuwsblad (Catholic Newspaper). Archived from the original on 6 March 2002.
" Question: U beschouwt zichzelf nog wel als katholiek? Answer: Ja, daar ontkom je niet aan. [..] Question: Toch noemt u zich ondanks uw homoseksualiteit nog steeds katholiek. Answer: Ik bén katholiek! Ik ben nota bene gedoopt! Ik noem me niet zo, ik ben het!" (Question: Do you still consider yourself a Catholic? Answer: Yes, you can't escape from that. [..] Question: But in spite of your homosexuality you still call yourself a Catholic. Answer: I am a Catholic. I have, after all, been baptised! I don't call myself one, I am one!)
- Conway, Isobel (7 May 2002). "Dutch far-right leader shot dead". The Independent. London. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
- van Sas, N.C.F. (2005). De metamorfose van Nederland:van oude orde naar moderniteit 1750–1900. p. 373. ISBN 90-5356-840-9.
- Osborn, Andrew (16 April 2003). "'Light' sentence enrages Fortuyn's followers". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
- "Pim Fortuyn: Politician's Killer Is Freed Early". Sky News. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
- * Jelle van Buuren: Holland's Own Kennedy Affair. Conspiracy Theories on the Murder of Pim Fortuyn. = Historical Social Research, Vol. 38, 1 (2013), pp. 257–85.
- Simons, Marlise (7 May 2002). "Rightist politician is slain and the Nation is stunned". The New York Times.
- Bedell, Geraldine (28 October 2006). "To face the facts beyond the veil". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- (in Dutch) 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. ("I also favor a cold war against Islam. I see Islam as being an exceptional threat, as a society hostile to ours".)
- Murray, Douglas (2017). The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam (Kindle ed.). London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1472942241.
- Asylum Immigration Statistics and Asylum Requests Statistics, Netherlands Bureau of Statistics Retrieved 21 July 2007
- "10 years after Pim Fortuyn was murdered: what the papers say". Dutch News. 10 May 2012. Archived from the original on 9 May 2012.
- "Volkskrant interview" (in Dutch). 2 February 2002. Archived from the original on 8 July 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2007.
- Hassan II of Morocco
- 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".
- Tegen de islamisering van onze cultuur: Nederlandse identiteit als fundament, A.W. Bruna, 1997, ISBN 90-229-8338-2
- Mudde 2007, pp. 213–214
- Rydgren & van Holsteyn 200, pp. 48–49
- Rydgren; van Holsteyn, 2005, p. 49.
- Andeweg, R. and G. Irwin Politics and Governance in the Netherlands, Basingstoke (Palgrave) p.49
- (in Dutch): "Als je flirt met Fortuyn, dan gebeurt er in Nederland straks hetzelfde als in Frankrijk. Daar zijn ze wakker geworden met Le Pen, straks worden wij wakker met Fortuyn." quote from article in Het Financieele Dagblad, 25 April 2002.
- (in Dutch) on YouTube Nova, 18 juni 2002
- (in Dutch): "Na lezing (...) was ik er eens te meer van overtuigd dat Professor Pim wel degelijk de Jean-Marie Le Pen, de Filip Dewinter], de Jörg Haider en de nieuwe Hans Janmaat van Nederland mag heten.", de Volkskrant, 25 March 2002
- [Documentary] "A Democracy in Shock" (2002). RTL Nieuws.
- See BBC impression for an early evaluation Retrieved July 2007.
- Paulus Koenis, Jacques. "A History of Dutch Populism, from the Murder of Pim Fortuyn to the Rise of Geert Wilders". Telesur. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
- Coughlan, Geraldine (21 January 2003). "Fortuyn ghost stalks Dutch politics". BBC News.
- "Dutch MPs approve asylum exodus". BBC News. 17 February 2004.
- "Greatest Dutchman" (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 10 March 2005.
- "nu.nl/algemeen | 'Pim Fortuyn toch niet de Grootste Nederlander'". Nu.nl. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
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|Party political offices|
|New creation||Leader of Livable Netherlands
|Leader of the Pim Fortuyn List
|Chairman of the Pim Fortuyn List