Since the defeat of the racist Centrum Democrats (CD) in the local and parliamentary elections of 1998 and the loss of his seat by the Netherlands' longest sitting extreme right-wing politician, Wim Vreeswijk of the Nederlands Blok (NB) - the Dutch partner of the Belgian Vlaams Blok - in Utrecht a year ago, the electoral far-right has been fairly quiet. Though the CD still holds a council seat in Schiedam, its elected member never shows up and apparently feels politically extremely lonely.
In reality, there is little to sustain him because the CD effectively collapsed after its battering at the polls. However, not all its members abandoned politics, some opting to become active in the New National Party (NNP), which is a successor to the outlawed fascist party, CP'86. Hans Janmaat, the long-time leader of the CD, though, did quit, handing over parts of his party archive to the International Institute of Social History before trying his hand at a novel which nobody wanted to publish. At present, he is not expected to return to political life.
The ranks of the NB have also been quite docile. Again some of its most active members defected to the NNP, leaving the party' s leader and his wife in a state of despair. In Utrecht, where its headquarters are located, there will be no elections for the next five years, which means they have the uphill task of keeping the party alive for that long. Besides that, they face stiff competition from a party called Leefbaar Utrecht (freely translated: Liveable Utrecht) which has became the biggest party in the city, having appeared vitually out of nothing. Leefbaar Utrecht has also a national expression called Leefbaar Nederland (LN) which is hoping to contest the parliamentary elections on 15 May next year and win at least 10 seats.
LN demagogically combines a restrictive asylum-policy, populist slogans (e.g. a laptop computer for every scholar) and one-liner solutions to complex social and environmental problems with a frontal attack on the mainstream politics. For its campaign, the party leadership wants Pim Fortuyn as its leading candidate. This right-wing populist, whose ambition is to be prime minister of the Netherlands, has raged against the multi-cultural society in the Netherlands for the past eight years, using the centre-right magazine Elsevier.
Fortuyn can bring millions of guilders to the party to advance his so-called 'cold war against Islam', a policy now under legal challenge by three organisations in Rotterdam, where he lives. If LN elects him as its top candidate at the end of this month, it is expected that he will launch a campaign to manipulate and mobilise unease in the Dutch population about migrants, refugees and Islam.
Meanwhile, the NNP is also looking for a way to distinguish itself from Fortuyn's populism. It will attempt to take part in next March's local elections in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Delft, Zwijndrecht, Leeuwarden and Zwolle. The NNP, which is small with a core of perhaps 20 cadres and a further 300 members on paper, still has the same chairman - Henk Ruitenberg - and party-programme as the banned CP'86, but, to date, justice minister Korthals has showed no sign of enforcing his own law by banning this party as well.
Another fascist party, the Dutch Peoples Union (NVU), also wants to participate in next year's local elections. Leadership of this outfit has been recently taken over from fascist old-timer Joop Glimmerveen by the hardcore nazi duo, Constant Kusters and Eite Homan, along with top German nazi-activist Christian Malcoci.
Kusters and Homan have a long history of working with German nazis – they were responsible for organising during the years Rudolf Hess marches near the German border - and the NVU, which has a core of about 30 activists, was able to stage a 15-minutes long demonstration, with heavy police-protection, in Kerkrade on 24 March. Some 3000 people from Kerkrade and the neighbouring town of Herzogenrath, mobilised by Anti-Fascist Action, took to the streets in protest at the mainly German nazi demonstration.
In Kerkrade, the NVU wants stand in the elections as well as in Arnhem - where Kusters lives - and Rotterdam. However, the NVU has not recently shown much sign of life, not least because of Kuster's recent imprisonment. He will be released in December and then it can be expected that the NVU's activities will be stepped up for the coming elections.
Besides the political parties in the extreme right and fascist firmaments, some other movements are active. After dissappearing from parliament and local councils, a group of right-wing extremists wanted to set out a strategy to focus their political ideas on the areas of power.
With help from Belgian Vlaams Blok führer Filip Dewinter, they have been trying to organise a broad base in the organisation Voorpost, under the leadership of two former CP'86 activists, Tim Mudde and Marcel Rüter. Voorpost clings doggedly to the strategies of the New Right in France, especially those of Alain de Benoist, by attempting to influence people with so-called 'meta'-politics, by which it means training right-wingers in history, debate and idealogy and distributing leaflets, posters and stickers with populist extreme right-wing slogans.
Voorpost managed to organise a few meetings, cultural events and ad hoc actions, before they bumped into a campaign by Anti-Fascist Action in May 1999 when one of its international summer camps was discovered and besieged by 300 anti-fascists who forced the Voorpost campers to take to their heels and suffer a humiliating defeat from which they have still not recovered.
The youth or 'student' organisation of Voorpost has more or less split from the organisation's line of Voorpost and, last December, began a sit-in at a huge former military complex in Eindhoven, in the south of the Netherlands. These activists, from the Nationalist Students Eindhoven (NSE) then launched a campaign against left-wing activists in the city, infiltrating a left-wing youth organisation for a couple of weeks and causing a nuisance with their posters and stickers.
At the former military base, they organised a Nationalist Youth Rally, some benefit gigs with fascist bands and some other concerts. During the summer, however, their concert-hall was mysteriously destroyed. The NSE is still in its 'squat' but has been prevented from organising anything outside it. Local anti-racist organisations are now trying to pressurise Eindhoven's mayor and the city council to evict them.
Another group attempting to raise its profile in the Netherlands is a new organisation called Stormfront. This group, founded by two NVU defectors who were fed up with the Kusters' iron discipline, has a loose structure and is prepared to fight for its place on the streets. Some of Stormfront's members have been involved in spraying nazi slogans and swastikas at a Jewish cematory near Oosterhout.
Additionally, Stormfront tried to distribute its leaflets in Amsterdam, but finding itself confronted by a large group of anti-fascists and Saturday-night youth against them, had to flee in a bus under police-protection. Stormfront, which has also distributed leaflets in Rotterdam and fought with football-hooligans there, also announced in leaflets that it would stage vigilante patrols in a small village where an asylum-seekers centre was to be opened and, recently, started a brawl at a skinhead concert in Limburg. In Nijmegen, however, Stormfront-activists were opposed by the local Anti-Fascist Action, and they were put on the next train out by police.
Stormfront's support base is mainly composed out of hard-core gabbers, youth from a musical scene which was quite popular a couple of years ago. It was also a mainly white scene, from which CP'86 tried to recruit. When the gabber movement collapsed, the hard-core element went over to Stormfront which usually attracts about 80 nazis to its meetings. Thus, it has become popular 'in the scene' for gabbers to present themselves as 'Stormfront-gabbers'.
Under the surface of the nazi movement in the Netherlands there exists another, more sinister aspect: a network of safe-houses and people who help nazis from Germany, for example, to hide from the Dutch and German police. At the beginning of this year, Dutch and German police arrested Christoph Schulte, who will now stand trial for the attempted murder of a Greek in Munich, in the Netherlands.
Nazis in this safe-housing network are mainly activists in the NVU and Actiefront National Socialisten, ANS. At present, Michael Krick, who is wanted in Germany, and is a longtime nazi activist, is hiding in the Netherlands. Krick is active behind the scenes organising the security of NVU demonstrations and urged those present at an NVU-congress, in May this year, to attack and bomb judges and prosecutors. Although this was clearly a criminal act, the Dutch justice department has yet to break sweat finding him.
After the Manhattan Massacre of 11 September, the political climate in the Netherlands changed. In three weeks following the atrocity, there were more then 90 'incidents' or attacks on Muslims, their mosques or their homes. This was more than elsewhere in Europe as Dutch racists went into action firebombing mosques and daubing 'White power', 'Muslims dead' and swastikas in towns and cities across the country. In one incident, two soldiers deliberately drove over a Turkish man - leaving him with several broken bones in his legs – and shouting 'One Muslim less' before driving on. The extreme-right and the fascists will probably benefit collectively from this climate of hate.
Jeroen Bosch for the Anti-Fascist Action