Pim Fortuyn

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Wilhelmus Simon Petrus Fortuyn (pronounced [pɪm fɔʁtœʏn], IPA; officially spelt Fortuijn), (February 19, 1948May 6, 2002), was a controversial, openly gay, charismatic<ref name="Margry">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</ref> politician in the Netherlands who formed his own party Lijst Pim Fortuyn (List Pim Fortuyn or LPF). He was assassinated during the 2002 Dutch national election campaign by Volkert van der Graaf, an animal rights activist.

Image:Pim Fortuyn.jpg
Wilhelmus Simon Petrus Fortuyn

Fortuyn was the center of controversy for his views on Islam and his anti-immigration positions. He called Islam "a backward culture" and said that if it were legally possible he would close the borders for Muslim immigrants. <ref name="controversy">(Dutch) Volkskrant newspaper interview</ref> 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 such as Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Blok (now Vlaams Belang), Jörg Haider of Austria or Jean-Marie Le Pen of France. While Fortuyn compared his own politics to center-right politicians such as Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, he also admired former Dutch Prime Minister Joop den Uyl, a socialist. Fortuyn could be considered a nationalist, on cultural rather than racial grounds. There are also parallels to cultural protectionism as seen in Canada.

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[edit] Biography

Fortuyn was born on February 19, 1948 in Velsen, to a Roman Catholic family. He studied sociology in Amsterdam and later worked as a lecturer at the Nyenrode Institute and as an associate professor at the University of Groningen. In 1988, he moved to Rotterdam, and became the director of a government organisation administering student transport cards. From 1991 to 1995, he was an "extraordinary full professor" at the Erasmus University and held 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.

A onetime communist and former member of the social-democratic PvdA, on November 26 2001 he was elected by a large majority as lijsttrekker of the newly formed Leefbaar Nederland (Livable Netherlands) party to participate in the May 2002 Dutch parliamentary elections.

In an interview in 2002 he described himself as a Catholic. <ref>Interview by Mark Eyck with Pim Fortuyn in the Katholiek Nieuwsblad (Catholic newspaper) 15 februari 2002 available online
" 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!"</ref>

On February 9, 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 Fortuyn said, among other things, that he favoured putting an end to Muslim immigration, if that were possible. Having been rejected by his party, Fortuyn founded his own party LPF (Lijst Pim Fortuyn) on February 11, 2002. Many Leefbaar Nederland supporters 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 won about 36% of the seats, making it the largest faction in the council. For the first time since the Second World War, the Labour Party found itself out of power.

On May 6, 2002, at age 54, he was assassinated in Hilversum, North Holland by Volkert van der Graaf. The attack took place in a parking lot 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 Hans Smolders, the driver of Pim Fortuyn, and was arrested by the police shortly afterwards, still in possession of a gun.

Months later, Volkert van der Graaf confessed in court to the Netherlands' first modern age political assassination (excluding WW II events), possibly the first since the lynching of the De Witt brothers in The Hague in 1672. 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." Van der Graaf was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

The assassination shocked the Netherlands and made the cultural clashes within the country apparent. Politicians from all political parties suspended campaigning. After consultation with LPF, it was decided not to postpone the elections. However, under Dutch law, it was not possible to modify the ballots, so Fortuyn became a posthumous candidate. The LPF went on to win an unprecedented debut in the lower house of parliament, winning 26 seats (17% of the 150 seats in the house). However, after the elections the following year, this figure dropped to eight seats, and after the 2006 elections the party had no seats left in the parliament.

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.

[edit] Views on Islam and immigration

In August 2001, Fortuyn was quoted in the Rotterdams Dagblad newspaper, 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."<ref>(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".)</ref> In the TV program Business class Fortuyn said that Muslims in Netherlands did not accept Dutch society. Fortuyn appeared several times in the TV program Business class, moderated by his friend Harry Mens. In this program it has been suggested that his words were interpreted rather harshly, if not wrongly. For instance, 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 February 9, 2002, he made further controversial statements in a Dutch newspaper, this time the Volkskrant.<ref name="controversy" /> He said that the Netherlands, with a population of 16 million, had enough inhabitants, and therefore, the practice of allowing as many as 40,000 asylum-seekers into the country each year had to be stopped (however, the actual number was not that high and already falling at that time). 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. Furthermore, 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, sexual preference, or whatever. However, he 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 the 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, and feared it would dismiss the Dutch legal system in favour of the shari'a law.

One of Fortuyn's fears was of pervasive intolerance in the Muslim community. In a televised debate in 2002, "Fortuyn baited the Muslim cleric by flaunting his homosexuality. Finally the imam exploded, denouncing Fortuyn in strongly anti-homosexual terms. Fortuyn calmly turned to the camera and, addressing viewers directly, told them that this is the kind of Trojan horse of intolerance the Dutch are inviting into their society in the name of multiculturalism<ref>Quoted from "Murder in Holland", Rod Dreher, National Review, May 7, 2002. [1].</ref>".

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 norms 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." <ref>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".</ref>

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

[edit] Other views

He said he was neither right wing nor left wing, asked for more openness in politics, and expressed his distaste for what he called "subsidy socialism". He furthermore criticised the media as a Siamese twin of the government.[citation needed]

He wanted smaller-scale organization of public services such as health, education, and the police, making extensive use of the possibilities of information technology (for example, 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, favouring the drug policy of the Netherlands, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and related positions.

He wanted to unite the army and air force to save money, retaining only a navy, but also favoured re-instating compulsory military service, giving youngsters the choice between military service and a new form of social services (in which they would help in hospitals or retirement homes, for example). It is often said that he wanted to disband the army and the air force; however, Fortuyn denied this on 24 March 2002 in a business TV programme.

[edit] Reasons for success

Many opinion leaders have tried to explain the rise of Fortuyn and his appeal with a large segment of the voters. A widely held view focuses on a perceived "gap" between politicians and common citizens: according to this account the feelings and complaints of the population, in particular concerning immigration and integration, were ignored for reasons of political correctness or simply because politicians were out of touch with their voters. Others pointed at Fortuyn's charisma and his oratory skills, which were in stark contrast with those of some of his opponents. Finally, some feel the political culture at the time was responsible- the traditional emphasis on consensus within Dutch politics (Polder Model) was further heightened during the coalition governments of former enemies PvdA and VVD (the mainstream left- and right-wing parties respectively). These governments were also known for what are sometimes called "back room deals": intensive collaboration between the government and the coalition parties in the parliament. All this had led to increasingly similar political platforms for the coalition parties, a development that Fortuyn used to his advantage, some would say.

Of course, the explanations mentioned above are not mutually exclusive, and many believe several of these factors, and others, have played a role.

[edit] Legacy

Fortuyn is widely credited with dramatically changing the Dutch political landscape and political culture. The 2002 elections, only weeks after Fortuyn's death, were marked by large losses for the VVD and especially the Social Democratic Party PvdA (which was even halved in size); both parties replaced their unpopular leaders shortly after. The election winners were Fortuyn's party LPF, and the Christian Democratic Party CDA, which, according to pundits, was seen as a "safe haven" by those who planned to vote for Fortuyn but were wary of voting for a party without his leadership. On the other hand, others speculate that Fortuyn's perceived martyrdom may have played into the hands of LPF.

All major parties have adopted tougher immigration and integration viewpoints after the rise of Fortuyn. The immigration policy of the Netherlands is now one of the strictest in the EU. In addition, debates on these topics, in politics, but also in everyday life, have become more prevalent and are no longer taboo as many claim they were in the years before Fortuyn. However, while some applaud these developments as a release from political correctness, others have objected to the harsher political and social climate, especially towards immigrants and Muslims.<ref>Fortuyn ghost stalks Dutch politics (BBC News)</ref> Contemporary Dutch politics is more polarized than it has been in recent years, especially on the issues that Fortuyn was best known for. There is a deep division on whether to consider the multicultural society a failure, and to what extent assimilation is needed. Furthermore, the decision by the government to expel a large number of asylum seekers whose application had failed<ref>Dutch MPs approve asylum exodus (BBC News)</ref> was met with praise but also with fierce criticism (incidentally, Fortuyn advocated an amnesty for asylum seekers already residing in the Netherlands).

Many politicians stress the importance of learning from the reasons behind the failure of the traditional parties. Listening to voters, transparent government, more dualism and speaking plainly are praised as some of the lessons learned from Fortuyn's success, though some complain that there have been no substantial changes, or that common courtesy in politics has been replaced by populism.

The coalition cabinet of CDA, LPF and VVD fell within three months, largely due to infighting within the LPF. The LPF was diminshed to only 8 seats in parliament (out of 150) and was not included in the new government; however, political commentators speculate that there is still a sizable number of discontented voters who may vote for a non-traditional party, if a viable alternative is at hand. In recent times the Group Wilders, which has a strong stance on immigration and integration, has performed well in polls.

Fortuyn received many votes due to his stance on immigration and integration, which is traditionally seen as right-wing. However, this should perhaps not be seen as an indication of the Dutch voters leaning more towards the right in general, given, for example, the unpopularity of the present right-wing cabinet, and the strong showing of left-wing parties in recent polls (note however that if the present cabinet completes its term, new elections are not expected until 2007). Many of those who had voted for Fortuyn's LPF in 2002 seem to have returned back to the left-wing PvdA, or indicate that they will refrain from voting at all. Meanwhile, the LPF is reduced to just 1 seat in a July 22, 2005 poll by NOVA, a Dutch current affairs TV programme.

In 2004, in a TV show, Fortuyn was chosen as De Grootste Nederlander ("Greatest Dutchman of all times"<ref>(Dutch) Greatest Dutchman</ref>), followed closely by William of Orange, the leader of the independence war that established the precursor to the present-day Netherlands. However, the election was widely regarded as not being representative as it was held through the internet and by phoning in, and so easily hijacked and probably heavily influenced by Fortuyn’s supporters, who had his violent death still fresh in their minds. Also, the murder of the equally controversial film director Theo van Gogh by a Muslim for comments critical of Islam had occurred a few days before the election and undoubtedly moved many voters to bring Fortuyn higher in the ranking. It later turned out that William of Orange had in fact received more votes, although they could not be counted until after the official closing time of the poll (and the proclamation of the winner), due to technical problems. The result has therefore remained uncorrected.

Fortuyn's sudden and short political career and popularity certainly points out a shifted opinion the Dutch have about themselves as a tolerant society with integrated multiple cultures."First of all one can conclude that criticism on political correctness and on the ideal of the multicultural society has broken through for real relatively late.[...] In the end it were Pim Fortuyn, the electoral success of the LPF and namely the murder on Fortuyn which led to the definitive breakthrough."<ref>Quote from Prins, Baukje & Slijper, Boris - 'Integratie zorgt in veel landen voor controverses', De Helling, winter 2002 : "Ten eerste kan men stellen dat de kritiek op de politieke correctheid en het ideaal van de multiculturele samenleving relatief laat echt is doorgebroken. [...] Uiteindelijk waren het Pim Fortuyn, het electorale succes van de LPF en met name de moord op Fortuyn die tot de definitieve doorbraak hebben geleid." (Tegenwicht)</ref> Although he did not advocate segregation, he made political establishment aware of their failure to recognise it as a disputable issue.

[edit] Sexual misconduct allegations

In 2005, Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries obtained a secret report of the intelligence department of the Rotterdam police. It became clear from this report that Fortuyn, along with several other members from his party, had been the subject of investigation by the intelligence services. An anonymous informant claimed that Fortuyn had engaged in sex with Moroccan youths aged between 16 and 21; this would have been legal under Dutch law. However, the report contained factual inaccuracies, and the trustworthiness of the original source could not be verified.<ref>(Dutch) Brief aan de Tweede Kamer over door P.R. de Vries bemachtigde diskettes</ref>

[edit] References

<references />da:Pim Fortuyn de:Pim Fortuyn es:Pim Fortuyn fr:Pim Fortuyn ga:Pim Fortuyn it:Pim Fortuyn es:Pim Fortuyn he:פים פורטוין nl:Pim Fortuyn<span class="FA" id="nl" style="display:none;" /> no:Pim Fortuyn pl:Pim Fortuyn pt:Pim Fortuyn ro:Pim Fortuyn ru:Фортайн, Пим fi:Pim Fortuyn sv:Pim Fortuyn

Pim Fortuyn

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