List Pim Fortuyn

Template:Election netherlands Lijst Pim Fortuyn (List Pim Fortuyn) is a political party in the Netherlands.


Pim Fortuyn and his party

Pim Fortuyn began organising the party on February 11, 2002, the day after he had been dismissed as lijsttrekker (head of the list of candidates) by the Leefbaar Nederland party. The new party would have allowed him to take part in the May 15 parliamentary elections. Fortuyn was a forceful debater. He was a strong critic of the government of the day.

On March 21 the party announced its list of candidates, most of whom had no previous political background. The party's main political issues were:

  • Tougher action against immigrants who did not assimilate into Dutch culture
  • Stronger measures to fight crime
  • Less bureaucracy in government
  • Reduction of teacher shortages in schools
  • Shortening of waiting lists for hospital treatment

The immigration issue caused heated debates. Fortuyn was accused of being a racist, an accusation he denied. He did not advocate deporting immigrants already in the country, nor closing all borders, though he did advocate setting an immigration quota that would prohibit Muslims from entering the country. In addition, he advocated revoking the first article of the Dutch constitution which prohibited discrimination, if that would prevent him from being able to freely tackle the problem of (Muslim) immigrants being able to assimilate into Dutch Culture.

The assassination of Fortuyn

Fortuyn was assassinated on May 6. Even though the assassin, Volkert van der Graaf, was caught immediately, members of the LPF floated a vast array of conspiracy theories about who they thought were ultimately responsible for the murder. The left wing, the "old political establishment" and the media were blamed, while claims of involvement of others in the murder abounded. The investigators of the crime were unimpressed, saying that the evidence suggested that the murderer had acted alone.

The 2002 elections, and participation in the first Balkenende cabinet

The party decided to maintain Fortuyn's candidacy for the elections, and delay naming a new leader until after the elections. The elections proved a great success for the LPF. They won 26 seats out of 150, becoming the second-largest party in parliament. It is still unclear how many voters based their choice on political conviction and how many voted for the LPF because its leader had been murdered; many voters gave one or both reasons. Mat Herben was chosen to be the new party leader. Together with the CDA (Christian Democrats) and the VVD (Liberals) the party formed part of the governing coalition, supplying several members of Balkenende's cabinet.

Chaos started the day the cabinet was installed. Only nine hours after Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands had sworn in the cabinet members, junior minister Philomena Bijlhout had to resign, following an event at the post-ceremony press conference. A journalist showed her a photograph of her wearing a military uniform, in a militia of Dési Bouterse, and Bijlhout identified herself in the photo. The photograph proved that she had been a member of the militia for longer than she had previously admitted, through the period of the notorious Suriname "December murders" in 1982. Balkenende and Herben forced her to resign following this revelation. A new controversy developed after Bijlhout stated that she would not give up the unemployment benefits she was entitled to for two years, based on her ministerial salary. The party experienced great difficulty in finding a replacement for her in the cabinet, to the increasing impatience of the other coalition parties.

A few days later, July 26, the new minister for health, Eduard Bomhoff, was reportedly wanting to dismiss one of his top officials, Peter van Lieshout. However, the employment of top officials in the Netherlands is coordinated by the ministry of internal affairs and the minister Johan Remkes said he needed good grounds before dismissing somebody. Lieshout was eventually transferred to another department.

Continuous bickering and scandals within the LPF party as a whole, within the LPF parliament faction, between LPF ministers and high-ranking government officials and between LPF officials and the press went on daily for two months. Party officials came and went. The LPF lost two seats in parliament when Winnie de Jong and Cor Eberhard left the party and started a new faction, after they accused the party of lack of internal democracy. Mat Herben was replaced by Harry Wijnschenk as parliamentary faction leader. In the few weeks that Wijnschenk presided things got out of hand even further. Herben was reinstated the day before the cabinet fell.

On October 16, after only 86 days, the new cabinet fell, mainly because the CDA and VVD faction leaders found the LPF to be a liability. The final issue was the open animosity between the two LPF ministers, Eduard Bomhoff (vice prime minister) and Herman Heinsbroek (soon claiming this post for himself, with support of the faction leader).

After the crash

A political poll held the day before the cabinet fell, showed that popular support for the LPF had vanished. If new elections would be held, the LPF would lose 23 of its original 26 seats in parliament. Mat Herben, back in office of parliamentary party leaders for one day when the cabinet fell, argued on television that the LPF should choose Heinsbroek as political leader to lead the party toward the new elections that by law had to be held within 83 days, only to learn the next day that Heinsbroek publicly stated he was considering starting his own party - later registered as Lijst Nieuwe Politiek. Winnie de Jong also established her own party:

Two days after the fall of the cabinet Harry Wijnschenk, who had clearly been unable to lead the party and had unanimously been asked to resign and hand back the position to his predecessor Mat Herben, decided to leave the LPF and continue as a one men parliamentary faction.

Mat Herben led the party to the elections of January 22 2003. During the campaign, the party recovered slightly from a low point in the polls of only two seats, and ended up with 8 seats.

In August 2004, the eight Members of Parliament for the LPF separated themselves from the rest of the party, and continued on their own. They wanted to keep LPF as their party's name, but obviously the "other" LPF refused to share their name.

External links

nl:Lijst Pim Fortuyn


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