Pim Fortuyn

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Pim Fortuyn was assassinated during the .
Pim Fortuyn was assassinated during the 2002 Dutch national election campaign.

Wilhelmus Simon Petrus Fortuijn, known as Pim Fortuyn (pronounced somewhat like: for-town), (February 19, 1948May 6, 2002), was a controversial politician in the Netherlands. He was assassinated during the 2002 Dutch national election campaign by Volkert van der Graaf, a supporter of immigration (van der Graaf denies that he was motivated by his views on animal rights, or by those of Pim Fortuyn).

An openly gay publicist, Fortuyn had formerly worked as a sociology professor at the University of Groningen and the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In his early days in Groningen, he was a member of the Labour Party PvdA.

Fortuyn was a focus of controversy for his views on Islam and his anti-immigration positions. He was opposed to radical Muslim immigrants such as Khalil el-Moumni, who refused to integrate into Dutch society and were seen by him as forming a threat to the country's tolerant culture. Nevertheless he defended their right to freedom of speech and said that it was wrong to prosecute El-Moumni. He was labeled a far-right populist by his opponents and the media, but he fiercely rejected this label and distanced himself clearly from far-right politicians like in Jrg Haider of Austria or Jean-Marie Le Pen of France. He could perhaps be described as a democratic nationalist, but on cultural, rather than racial, grounds.

In 2004 he was chosen as "Greatest Dutchman of all times", followed closely by the founder of the Netherlands, William I of Orange. However, the election was widely regarded not being representative and heavily influenced by Fortuyns sympathizers with his violent death still fresh in their minds. Pim Fortuyn's views had some affinities to American libertarianism.



Fortuyn was born on February 19, 1948 in Velsen. He studied sociology in Amsterdam and later worked as a lecturer at the Nijenrode Institute and as an associate professor at the University of Groningen. In 1988, he moved to Rotterdam, becoming director of a government organization administering student transport cards. From 1991 to 1995, he was a extraordinary full professor at the 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 becoming 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 to participate in the Dutch parliamentary elections of May 2002.

On 9 February, 2002, he was interviewed by the Volkskrant, a Dutch newspaper (see below). The statements he made were considered so controversial that he was dismissed as lijsttrekker the next day. In the interview, among other things, Fortuyn said he favored an end to Muslim immigration, if that were possible. Having been let down by his party, on 11 February, 2002 Fortuyn founded 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, a local offshoot of his national party, he achieved a major victory in the Rotterdam district council elections in early March 2002. The new party obtained about 36% of the seats, making it the largest faction in the council. For the first time since the Second World War, the Socialist Labour Party found itself out of power.

On May 6, 2002, at age 54, he was assassinated by an animal-rights activist named Volkert van der Graaf. The attack took place at a parking-place outside a radio studio in Hilversum, where Fortuyn had just given an interview. This was nine 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 a gun.

Volkert van der Graaf confessed in court months later to Holland's first political assassination since WW II, claiming that he shot Pim Fortuyn "to defend Dutch Muslims from persecution." Facing a raucous court on the first day of his murder trial, he 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. Van der Graaf said: "I confess to the shooting. He was an ever growing danger who would affect many people in society. I saw it as a danger. I hoped that I could solve it myself."

The murder shocked the Netherlands, as no political assassination had occurred since the war, and as it made the cultural clashes within the Netherlands apparent. Politicians of all political parties suspended their campaigning. After consultation with the Lijst Pim Fortuyn, it was decided not to postpone the elections. However, it was not possible under Netherlands law to modify the candidate 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).

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, Fortuyn 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 religion." [ 1 ]

On February 9, 2002, he made further controversial statements in a Dutch newspaper, this time the Volkskrant. [ 2 ] He said that the Netherlands, with a population of 16 million, had enough inhabitants, and therefore, the practice of allowing 40,000 asylum-seekers into the country each year had to be stopped. He claimed that if he became part of the next government, he would pursue an exceptionally restrictive immigration policy (but also granting citizenship to a large group of illegal immigrants). Furthermore, he considered Article 7 of the constitution, which asserts freedom of speech, of more importance than Article 1, which forbids discrimination. These statements were controversial, because the number of asylum seekers at the time was already falling, 20,000 each year were ejected and Dutch population levels cannot be maintained in the long run without an annual immigration of 150,000, given the low birthrate. However, he distanced himself from Hans Janmaat of the Centrum Democraten, who in the 1980's 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 the Dutch society's consensus on human rights as their own. He openly rejected all violence and was no overt racist - his plans not to allow any more Muslims to enter the country if this were legally possible he justified as intending to preserve the Dutch society as liberal as it is, and defending it against the perceived threat caused by the influx of ever more Muslims whose traditions, he believed, run contrary to the pillars of western society in so many regards. He thought muslim culture had never undergone a process of modernisation and therefore still lacked an acceptance of democracy and women's, gays' and lesbians' as well as minority rights in general, and feared it would dismiss the Dutch legal system in favour of the shari'a law, which calls for the stoning of adulterers or the hacking-off of the hands of thieves.

When asked by 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 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 country could a leader of such a large movement as mine be openly homosexual? It's wonderful that that's possible. That's something that we can be proud of. And I'd like to keep it that way." [ 3 ]

Fortuyn was author of the 1997 book Against the Islamicization of Our Culture.

Other views

He said he was neither right wing nor 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 organization of public services such as health, education, and the police, making extensive use of the possibilities of information technology (e.g., a surgeon conducting an operation remotely at a local hospital). Critics said his plans would require building hundreds or thousands of new institutions at enormous expense, but Fortuyn said no extra funds would be allocated until inefficiencies had been removed.

He also held liberal views, favoring the drug policy of the Netherlands, same-sex marriage, euthanasia on request, and related positions.

He wanted to unite the army and air force to save money, retaining only a navy, but also wanted to reinstate compulsory military service, giving youngsters the choice between military service and a new form of social services (in which they would help in hospitals, retirement homes, etc). It is often said that he wanted to disband the army and the air force, however, Fortuyn said this is not true on 24 March 2002 in a program (Business Class) with his friend Harry Mens.


[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." ("I also favor a cold war against the islam. I see the islam as an exceptional threat, as a society hostile to us.")
[2] Volkskrant article (http://web.archive.org/web/20020212063049/http%3a//www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws/denhaag/1013147690985.html) (Dutch)
[3] 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." ("I don't hate Islam. I consider it a backward culture. I have traveled a lot around the world. Everywhere where the islam has power conditions are simply terrible. All this duplicity. It reminds me of the Reformers. The Reformed always lie. And why is that? Because their system of norms and values is so elevated it's not humanly possible to make people conform to it. The same can be observed in that muslim culture. Look at The Netherlands. In which other country could a electoral leader of such a large movement as mine be openly homosexual? You should be proud of that. I'd like to keep it that way, thank you very much.")
[4] A Milieu Defensie article with quotes of Pim Fortuyn dismissing environmentalism (Dutch) -- http://www.milieudefensie.nl/blad/2001/novdec2001/fortuyn.htm
[5] Greatest Dutchman (http://www.planet.nl/planet/show/id=106882/contentid=525037/sc=5ce917) (Dutch)

External link

de:Pim Fortuyn fr:Pim Fortuyn ga:Pim Fortuyn he:פים פורטוין nl:Pim Fortuyn no:Pim Fortuyn pl:Pim Fortuyn pt:Pim Fortuyn sv:Pim Fortuyn


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