Pim Fortuyn List
|Leader||Pim Fortuyn |
Gerard van As
|Chairman||Pim Fortuyn |
|Founded||14 February 2002|
|Dissolved||1 January 2008|
|Split from||Livable Netherlands|
|Headquarters||Spaanse Kubus |
|Youth wing||Jonge Fortuynisten|
|Thinktank||Prof.Dr. W.S.P. Fortuynstichting|
|Colours||Yellow and Blue|
|Slogan||At your service! (2002), Geef ons een 2e kans (Give us a second chance, 2003)/Wij hebben lef, wij stemmen LPF (We have courage, we vote LPF) (2003)|
The Pim Fortuyn List (Dutch: Lijst Pim Fortuyn, LPF) was a political party in the Netherlands named after its eponymous founder Pim Fortuyn, a former university professor and political columnist. The party was considered right-wing populist and nationalist as well as adhering to its own distinct ideology of Fortuynism according to some commentators.
The LPF supported tougher measures against immigration and crime, opposition to multiculturalism, greater political reform, a reduction in state bureaucracy and endorsed some eurosceptic positions but differed somewhat from other European right-wing or nationalist parties by taking a liberal stance on social issues and sought to describe its ideology as pragmatic and not populistic.
Pim Fortuyn had initially had planned to contest the 2002 general election as leader of the Livable Netherlands (LN) party. He was however dismissed as leader of LN in February 2002 due to controversial remarks he made in a newspaper interview on immigration-related issues, and instead founded LPF a few days later. After gaining support in opinion polls, Fortuyn was assassinated on 6 May 2002, nine days before the election. The party held onto its support, and went on to become the second-largest party in the election.
The LPF formed part of a coalition government with the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) as part of the first Balkenende cabinet, but internal conflicts in the LPF led to the coalition's break-up and fresh elections after a few months. Following the 2003 election, the party was left in opposition. It became clear that the party was not viable without its original leader, and it went into decline until it was finally dissolved in 2008.
Fortuyn announced his intention to run for parliament in a television interview on 20 August 2001. An unusual aspect of this was that it was not yet clear which political party he would be a candidate for. Although he was already in contact with the Livable Netherlands (LN) party, he initially also considered running for the CDA or creating his own list. On 25 November he was chosen as party leader for the LN. The LN functioned as the national extension of a movement that had contested municipal but never national elections. Fortuyn concluded his acceptance speech by saying the words that would become his slogan; "At your service!" Almost immediately after Fortuyn became leader, LN went from 2% in opinion polls to about 17%. In January 2002, it was announced that Fortuyn also would head the Livable Rotterdam (LR) list for the March 2002 local elections. The official 2002 election study found that immigration and integration problems were the second most important issue for voters after issues concerning the health care system. Helped by the many speeches and interviews given by Fortuyn, immigration issues became the major topic of the national political agenda, thereby forcing other parties to react.
Until February, the LN had received disproportionate and generally sympathetic coverage in the media. The situation took a dramatic turn on 9 February, when Fortuyn was interviewed in de Volkskrant, one of the leading national newspapers. Against the strong advice of his campaign team, he made several controversial statements; including one that said Islam was "a backward culture", that no more asylum seekers would be allowed into the country, and, if necessary, the possible repeal of anti-racism clauses in the Dutch Constitution to protect freedom of speech. Fortuyn was dismissed as party leader the next day, and in a television interview said that the split was irreparable, although he would have preferred to remain in the party. He founded Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) on 11 February. Opinion polls soon showed that he took most of LN's supporters with him, leaving LN with its original 2%, while Fortuyn soared to 17%. The local LR—which held on to Fortuyn as its leader—was hugely successful in the March 2002 local elections, as it won more than one third of the vote and became Rotterdam's strongest party.
It was reported in February 2002 that Fortuyn did not dare to appear in public owing to death threats. In March, he was attacked by pie-throwing activists at the presentation of his new book De puinhopen van acht jaar Paars (which became the bestselling book by a Dutch author in the Netherlands in 2002). Despite this, the authorities did not provide protection for Fortuyn, nor did he request protection. On 6 May, Fortuyn was assassinated outside a radio studio. This was the first political murder in the Netherlands for centuries (excluding the Second World War). Some claimed that by "demonising" Fortuyn, the political left and the media had created a climate of opinion that had made the assassination possible. Campaigning immediately stopped, and although some suggested postponing the elections, the campaign resumed (half-heartedly) after his funeral four days later. His funeral was broadcast live on television and, according to Cas Mudde, lead "to scenes of mass hysteria not seen since the Dutch national football team won the European Championship in 1988." The murder of Fortuyn, together with that of Theo van Gogh two years later, would result in a polarisation in the political debate in the Netherlands, and subsequently radical changes in immigration-related policies and public discourse.
First Balkenende cabinet (2002–2003)
The LPF decided to maintain Fortuyn's candidacy, and delayed naming a new leader until after the election. The 2002 general election proved a great success for the LPF, yielding 17% of the votes and 26 seats in the House of Representatives—by far a record number of seats in the Netherlands for a new party—to become the second largest party. LN also made it into Parliament, with two seats. The Labour Party (PvdA) and People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) saw their largest-ever losses, while the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) won large gains - later attributed in part to the fact that CDA leader Jan Peter Balkenende had remained neutral and not joined in attacking Fortuyn with other party leaders during debates. Balkenende had earlier announced that his party would follow a tougher line towards asylum seekers and tighten some of the Netherlands's immigration policies, and he later agreed with much of Fortuyn's criticism of the purple coalition and Holland's multicultural society. Some commentators claimed that the CDA was able to draw in voters who otherwise would have supported the LPF (but felt it was no longer viable without Fortuyn in charge) or that the CDA was seen as a stabilizing force after a tense election. As leader of the strongest party, Balkenende became the leading candidate for Prime Minister.
Following the election, Mat Herben was chosen as LPF party leader as Fortuyn's successor. Together with the CDA and the VVD, the party formed part of the governing coalition, and supplied several members for the Balkenende cabinet. The party was granted four of fourteen cabinet seats, for immigration, economics, health and sports. The following day after the cabinet's formation, LPF State Secretary for Social Affairs and Work Opportunity Philomena Bijlhout resigned after it was reported that she had been a member of a Surinamese militia. She was replaced by fellow LPF MP Khee Liang Phoa.
Without its original leader and lack of a clearly defined organisational structure and political experience among its members, the LPF also succumbed to highly public internal squabbles. MPs within the LPF resigned to sit as independents due to the infighting or unsuccessfully tried founding splinter parties of their own to contest in the next election. By October 2002, the break-up of the government coalition was triggered by the bickering of LPF Ministers Eduard Bomhoff and Herman Heinsbroek.
Opposition and disintegration (2003–2006)
In the January 2003 general election, the LPF shrank to 5.7% support and gained eight seats while Balkenende and the CDA retained a majority. Following the election the LPF was exchanged for the Democrats 66 in the government coalition. The LPF found it hard to maintain support in parliamentary opposition as besides Joost Eerdmans, most of its Members of Parliament were not very visible or considered as charismatic as Fortuyn, while party leader Herben had enough work keeping the party from further infighting. The LPF also went into financial straits as many of its former financial backers left. Other commentators later claimed that the relative inexperience of some of the LPF's members hampered its ability to function as a coherent movement. As the new coalition continued most of the former coalition's policies and Balkenende stated that he agreed with some of Fortuyn's views on multiculturalism and implemented some of his policy ideas, it became increasingly difficult for the LPF to present the anti-establishment or alternative image to the government which had galvanized support for the party in the first place.
The LPF did see some success in the 2003 Dutch provincial elections in which it won 17 seats in eleven provinces, enabling it to qualify for a seat in the Senate which was taken by Rob Hessing. However, the party was beset by further internal problems and won just 2.6% of the vote in the 2004 European Parliament election, and did not win a seat. In this election, Paul van Buitenen surprisingly won two seats with his anti-corruption Europe Transparent (although it was not successful in the long term). By 2004, the LPF had fallen to a less than 1% support and disintegrated. The party had lost most of its members, and the parliamentary faction (with exception of Wien van den Brink) had declared itself independent from the party.
List Five Fortuyn (2006–2008)
The LPF participated in the 2006 general election under its new name List Five Fortuyn (Lijst Vijf Fortuyn). On 25 September 2006, the party released a controversial campaign commercial which featured new leader Olaf Stuger coming down from "heaven" with a parachute and presenting himself as a "reincarnation" of Pim Fortuyn. Marten Fortuyn, brother of Pim Fortuyn, declared it "outrageous and tasteless." In the election, LVF did not receive enough votes to secure a seat with support of only 0.2%. It also lost all of its seats in the 2007 Provincial Council elections, meaning it was no longer eligible for representation in the Senate. In 2006, the party closed its office in the Hague and in July 2007 voted to dissolve itself by 1 January 2008.
Fortuyn's political heritage became scattered among various politicians in the Netherlands who founded parties of their own, most of which were unsuccessful. These included Marco Pastors, leader of the One NL, and Hilbrand Nawijn, leader of the Party for the Netherlands—none of which managed to win a seat in the 2006 election. The LPF also influenced politicians in the Flemish region of Belgium, such as lawyer and Open VLD member Hugo Coveliers who went on to found the VLOTT party based on Fortuyn's ideas. However, in the Netherlands the LPF became been squeezed out by the tougher line on immigration and integration issues taken by mainstream politicians such as Minister for Integration and Immigration Rita Verdonk, who largely adopted Fortuyn's policies. By the end of the decade, former LPF supporters had mostly moved to support Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom (PVV).
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. The LPF also won support from some ethnic minorities; one of Fortuyn's closest associates was of Cape Verdean origin while one of the party's MPs was a young woman of Turkish descent.
Many of the LPF's policies for the 2002 general election were based on proposals put forward in Fortuyn's book De puinhopen van acht jaar Paars. The LPF campaigned on a strong law and order message at both local and national levels. The party supported cutting state bureaucracy while strengthening public services. It also wanted to revise and restrict immigration and asylum policies, particularly from Islamic societies, as well as put an end to the Dutch government's policy of pursuing multiculturalism. However, Fortuyn also maintained that asylum seekers or illegal immigrants who had been living in the Netherlands for a long period should not be deported and instead be pardoned and offered a path to citizenship if they were able to demonstrate they could assimilate into Dutch society while potential migrants would be offered financial incentives to stay in their own country. The party also supported the right to freedom of speech and took a socially liberal stance on issues such as gay rights, soft drug legalization and gender equality.
Although the LPF was established post-9/11, Fortuyn had already developed a worldview based on the "clash between civilizations", namely between "modernity" and Islam, or Western society and Islamic culture. The LPF supported NATO, but was eurosceptic and saw the European Union as a "bureaucracy which barely interests its citizens, let alone inspires them." The party was against to the euro currency (which the Netherlands had adopted in 1999) and EU influence over Dutch domestic regulation. Fortuyn also campaigned to reduce Dutch financial contributions to the European Union and criticised the EU as "elite" and "technocratic". The LPF was not necessarily opposed to the idea of European integration and economic and political cooperation in general, but rather the EU's present organization, lack of democracy and threat to national sovereignty. Opposing the full membership of Turkey, Albania, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, the LPF maintained that the European Union "shouldn't cross the Bosporus and the Ural". The LPF was also supportive of Israel.
|Election year||House of Representatives||Government||Notes|
overall seats won
26 / 150
8 / 150
0 / 150
|Election year||# of
overall seats won
0 / 27
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lijst Pim Fortuyn.|
- Mudde, Cas (2007). "A Fortuynist Foreign Policy". In Liang, Christina Schori (ed.). Europe for the Europeans: the foreign and security policy of the populist radical right. Ashgate. pp. 209–222. ISBN 978-0-7546-4851-2.
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