Who killed Pim Fortuyn?
Pim Fortuyn received a bad press in newspapers and on television, not only in the Netherlands. Especially in France, Germany and Great Britain the politician (who was murdered on May 6th, 2002, during the six o'clock news on the premises of the radio studios of the Dutch Public Broadcasting Radio) had been deliberately depicted in the headlines and commentaries as being ultra right, having the same ideas as Jörg Haider in Austria, and the same political agenda of Jean-Marie Le Pen in France.
Obviously many a foreign journalist had been consulting their Dutch colleagues and just wrote down the negative opinions and the often distorted information they received from those Dutch journalists.
On top of that, the negativity of the information was reinforced by various politicians of the established parties when they were interviewed on television and for newspapers. These politicians also participated in so called debates which actually were chaotic gatherings, mainly because of the biased journalists who presided the meetings in a rather unprofessional manner. This all showed that a conspiracy against Pim Fortuyn was going on.
Chanceler Schröder's Lecture
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder who was invited by the Dutch Socialist Party to read the "Den Uyl Lecture" on March 18, 2002 in the Hague, warned that The Netherlands were risking to loose their image of a tolerant society which generally is considered to be an example to many other nations.
The question of course is: Why did he make this remark, what does Schröder mean? He certainly did not mean the intolerance of the establishment towards Pim Fortuyn, the intolerance of established parties who did not want to share the power with Fortuyn and his followers.
Gerhard Schröder certainly did not mean the intolerance of the journalists either, the journalists who had positioned themselves as aids of the government and of the political parties.
Could Schröder mean that the ideas of Pim Fortuyn were a severe threat to the reign of the Dutch Socialist Party, the PvdA, the sister party of the German SPD?
Schroeder's remark could hardly have been based on his own findings. His lines however were inspired by the worries of the "Partij van de Arbeid", the Dutch Labour Party, which practices a non assertive socialism which results in a more or less "laissez faire, laissez aller" attitude which was originally the slogan for the doctrine of right wing politicians.
Apparently Bundeskanzler Schröder's goast writer had been instructed by the information department of the Dutch Socialist Party, and was inspired by articles in the German press as well. Well, Herr Bundeskanzler, your opponent in Bavaria, President Edmund Stoiber, had officially welcomed Jörg Haider as if the Austrian party leader of the FPÖ was a great statesman. And what did you say about that? Not a word!
Schröder's appearance was premeditated. Schröder's line saying that the Netherlands were loosing their image of tolerance, was the headline in the 8 o'clock news on Dutch television (NOS Journaal). No mention was there of a context. That also smelled of conspiracy, a biased opinion of the editors of the 8 o'clock news. (It must be said however, Herr Schröder, that the journalists of your country are generally far more professional than their Dutch counterparts as can be witnessed in 'heute', 'heute journal', Tagesschau and Tagesthemen.)
Pim Fortuyn was no Dutch Haider, nor was he the Dutch Le Pen
made his entry in the Dutch political arena in the fall of 2001. He published
a book called "The Debris Of Eight Years Purple", in fact the ruins of the
purple cabinets of the two governments led by Wim Kok. These were coalition
cabinets of socialists (PvdA), conservatives (VVD), and liberal democrats
(D'66). Fortuyn criticized the failure of important policies of "the
purple administration", the mismanagement of the health care system
which resulted in long waiting lists, the rising crime record and related
unsafety, and - last but not least - the nonrealistic immigration and integration
policies which resulted in long procedures and a seemingly endless stream
of illegal immigrants of which their original culture was so remote from
Western society that they did not get acquainted with it and would not participate.
Furthermore Fortuyn was against the acquisition of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the American project which could cost our country billions without receiving sufficient orders for Dutch manufacturers for supplying parts for the manufacture of that aircarft. That point of view was also not accepted by the ruling parties. The Dutch parliament represents the Dutch voters, but once the people have cast their vote, members of parliament do as they see fit. That is why most of the time decisions are made which are not in accordance with the opinion of the voters.
Pim Fortuyn's Criticism
appearance made a great impact. His criticism was partly right. Many people
thought it refreshing that for once a politician (who was a newcomer and
was not a member of the political establishment) openly talked about these
policies, but especially about the question of the integration of immigrants.
Not all of Fortuyn's criticism was justified at least not to a high degree. Therefor most journalists and many a politician of the established political parties started to attack Fortuyn and depicted the man as a monster, a monster that could be compared to Haider (Austria) and Le Pen (France). They maintained that he was a threat to the Dutch nation. They even compared Fortuyn to right wing leaders in the years before World War Two. One politician, Thom de Graaf of the liberal democrats (D66), even mentioned the fate of Anne Frank in this respect, as if Fortuyn had the ideas of a Nazi.
The result was that in the last months of campaigning for the election for a new parliament on May 15th, 2002, the atmosphere was one of intimidation and name calling. Invariably the objective - so it seemed - was to stop Fortuyn at no cost and with all sorts of means. Rare were the occasions when he could finish his sentences when interviewed and answering a question or explaining his ideas in a debate. It must be said that Fortuyn himself did participate wholeheartedly in the chaotic debates. He was forced to. Not participating would be a sign of weakness. The only times when he was treated in an objective way was in the man to man debates or when interviewed by a more able journalist who knew that the man first had to explain an idea before he could be attacked. In those cases he was granted the space and time to explain his views, for example on Belgian television.
electorate however saw very clearly what was going on. The more the established
parties and the established journalists picked on Fortuyn, the more the
popularity of Fortuyn was rising and this showed very clearly in the polls.
Fortuyn was gaining attention and in polls it was he who was winning and
the established parties were loosing, virtually. Thus a nasty atmosphere
was created which could have been a stimulus for anyone who had thought
about eliminating Fortuyn. And if it could not be done in the media, than
the apparent solution was to kill the man.
If debates and interviews had been presided in a rightful manner, the killing of Pim Fortuyn would have been less probable. But demonizing the man just went on and on and nobody called for a real discussion.
Pro Immigrant Policy
that Pim Fortuyn has been murdered, the Dutch have a problem how to explain
to other countries what really is the matter. How can the wrong and unjust
painted image be rectified. Fortuyn was not against the immigration of political
refugees at all. He even proposed a "general pardon" for those
who were already in the country (legally or illegally). He proposed limited
quota for immigrants, not for political refugees, the latter were always
When he was attacked by representatives of the Islam in the Netherlands and depicted as being lower than a pig, Fortuyn said that Islam was a culture that was lagging behind. He called it "retarded".
1 of the Dutch Constitution is the so called "non discrimination article".
Holland is the only country in the world which has such an article. When
Fortuyn said that, if the "non discrimination article" was impractical
(because it stifles anyone who wants to make a critical remark), than, he
suggested, the article should be replaced by a "hate" article.
But that suggestion was misinterpreted and again he was attacked.
Fortuyn was not a racist, but a threat to the established Dutch political system, the so-called tolerance (which is mostly not based on empathy at all but on indifference), and maybe a threat to the Dutch constitutional monarchy as well, as some high situated people believed. But his arrival and short appearance was and remains a blessing for the Dutch democracy. Part of the rectification will take place through elections. It is probable that Fortuyn's party (LPF) will participate in a new government.
Pim Fortuyn's Party: LPF (Lijst Pim Fortuyn)
Some opinion makers and journalists have said that, now Fortuyn has been killed, his party, Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF-party), should be dissolved. That is exactly what these conspiring journalists and politicians had been wanting all along, the elimination of Fortuyn's ideas and the political followers. The journalists and politicians do certainly not want to understand why he was so popular and more so they do not understand what democracy is all about.
It is important that the party will have the chance to work together with other policial parties in a coalition government and that it will be able to correct some of the ruling ideas and policies. But that is really not the most important thing for Fortuyn's party. The important aspect of the new movement is that it should have a chance in parliament. If the party succeeds (on the day Fortuyn was murdered the polls told that his party would have 35 or even more seats and would be the largest party in Holland), so much the better. Even if the LPF fails and after a few months or a year new elections will have to be held, the party will have proven its most important function: letting democracy work. And not only that. The movement has proven that the immigration and integration policies have to be reassessed.
Rudolf A. Bruil, May 13, 2002.
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