Searchlight - August 2007
Five years ago, the charismatic, flamboyant and openly gay politician Pim Fortuyn was gunned down just a few days before general elections in the Netherlands. The untimely demise of the anti-immigrant right-wing populist left his party, the List Pim Fortuyn (LPF), to pick up the torch and continue to campaign on his racist agenda.
And, it has to be said that whatever one thinks of the so-called Fortuynistas, there is no doubt that they have, during their short and turbulent existence, rewritten contemporary Dutch history. Now, however, their era has come to an end, in its present form, at least.
Five years after the Fortuyn's assassination, the LPF's party HQ closed its doors for the last time in May: the result of the fact that last year the party lost all its seats in the parliamentary elections and, in consequence, their access to state funding and resources.
On 29 May, to make matters worse, the LPF lost its one remaining seat in the Senate. All the party has left now are a few local councillors in The Hague, Eindhoven, Westland, Spijkenisse and Duiven and an alderman in Westland. These councilors will remain in their seats until the next local elections in 2010 but there is a big question mark over whether the party will still exist by then.
A decision about the LPF's future is set to be made at the end of July when the party's 1,200 members will attend a conference. Meanwhile, the office and the ideological bureau of the party have been transferred to the home of the LPF chairman Bert Snel. At present, this bureau is still receiving a state subsidy to the tune of € 227,000 (approx £ 166,000).
In fact, no future looks possible for the LPF. In the last provincial elections, its parlous political state of the LPF was already visible. All kinds of defunct and semi-defunct parties resurrected themselves to reenter the electoral arena. Nederland Transparant, Partij voor Nederland, EénNL and the LPF itself – its name changed Lijst Five Fortuyn, in a bid to get rid of the negative baggage – fielded candidates They all lost. Heavily
Fortuyn's legacy is shattered and his ideas, or his presumed ideas, are held by small groups without any political responsibility. The right-wing libertarian Fortuyn set the debate about the multicultural society afire. His followers merely promote repression. While declaring freedom of speech sacrosanct, they have turned it into a synonym for insults and racism.
According to a poll more than 25% of Dutch voters would still have voted for Fortuyn had he been alive and, dangerously, almost 40% of them think that Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party now best represent Fortuyn's legacy.
Though his party is more or less dead, Fortuyn's memory remains alive. On 6 May, a commemoration of Fortuyn was held in Rotterdam attended by around 200 people who gathered for a demonstration around his statue. At the meeting, the leader of Leefbaar Rotterdam, Ronald Sorensen, and former LPF minister Hilbrand Nawijn read poems people had sent in about Pim Fortuyn. After one minute's total silence at six minutes past six – the exact time of Fortuyn's murder – the crowd shouted "Long live Pim!" It was the last commemoration in this sort organised by Leefbaar Rotterdam. According to Sorensen less and less people attend the last years.
Fortuyn was also commemorated in Hilversum where a touring busload of hardcore Fortuyn fans laid wreaths in the morning and had planned to demonstrate outside the prison in The Hague where their hero's murderer Volkert van der Graaf is jailed.
Slogans on their placards read "Volkert, you want to come outside and play?" and "Wanted. Gunman for hire". However, by the time they had they left the cemetery in Driehuis, the location of Fortuyn's before his reburial in Provesano, Italy, there was just enough time left to arrive on time in Rotterdam.
One of Fortuyn's former bodyguards, Christian Boom demanded a reopening of the murder case because he wants to challenge the conclusion of the investigation that the murder could not have been avoided. In particular, Boom wants to know whether former internal affairs minister Klaas de Vries, former justice minister Benk Korthals and former prime minister Wim Kok can be held responsible for not taking the necessary measures to protect Fortuyn.
Fortuyn's brother Marten filed a complaint against the former ministers at the beginning of June, but the court answered that is not qualified to prosecute.
Jeroen Bosch for Alert! and Antifa-Net