Declaration on the murder of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn

6 May 2002

Declaration on the murder of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn

It was with astonishment that we learned of the cowardly murder of Pim Fortuyn. We were often in agreement as to what was wrong; our solutions, our ideas about how to improve things, differed. The voters had the choice, as they should. That is democracy. It is a disgrace that the bullets which killed Pim Fortuyn also killed this choice. We send his family, friends, those who knew him and those who followed his ideas our sincerest condolences in the face of this loss.

The SP later issued this longer statement:

The attack on 6 May 2002 on Mr Pim Fortuyn is both a personal tragedy and an unprecedented event in the post-war history of the Netherlands. The executive committee of the SP has sent condolences to Mr Fortuyn’s family, friends and acquaintances. On Monday Pim Fortuyn was the victim of a cowardly murder. It is pointless to speculate about the killer and his motive, and we shall refrain from doing so.

Pim Fortuyn was a controversial politician. If his critique of prevailing politics was on many points similar to that of the SP, his answers were often greatly at odds with our own. On this point there can be no misunderstanding. The SP has, ever since Fortuyn’s appearance on the political stage, concentrated the debate on his political opinions, shunning personal abuse.

Because of today’s tragic events we have suspended all national campaign activities for the coming general election. All SP branches have been informed of this and have ceased campaigning in their own localities.

Declaration by Steve McGiffen, editor of Spectre

Netherlands: Pim Fortuyn murdered

Media coverage, outside the Netherlands, of the murder of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn has reached new lows of misunderstanding, deliberate distortion and sheer laziness. In the month of the fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen’s high vote in the French Presidential election’s first round, which was described by the English-language press as evidence of a "huge swing to the right", we now see the late Mr Fortuyn described as a "far right leader". Just as there was no swing to the right in France, but, on the contrary, a significant increase in the total votes cast for centre-left, left and far left candidates, so Mr Fortuyn was anything but "far right". Fortuyn had some abhorrent views, describing Islam as incompatible with civilisation, and calling for a halt to immigration. He was, however, in favour of integration of existing immigrant communities, never called for repatriation or any other form of persecution of immigrants, and called for an amnesty for any undocumented foreigners who had lived and worked in the country for five years or more. These policies are somewhat to the left of those favoured by Mr Blair and his gang, for whom many British socialists continue (unaccountably, in our view) to vote. Fortuyn said that he is opposed to immigration because the country cannot fit any more people in it. This is ridiculous, of course, but even in this case he gave no impression of disguising extreme racist views behind some kind of bogus demography. There were people of colour on Fortuyn’s list for the elctions, and black people weeping along with many others at the angry, spontaneous gatherings which greeted the news. Fortuyn had no skinhead or similar following. He was not antisemitic. He was well to the left of most US congressmen and women and the British Tory right.

The foreign media have characterised Fortuyn as "far right" because they are too lazy to think outside these handy categories. We shouldn’t be. It is also the EU’s task, which it carries out with determination, to discredit anyone, left or right, who raises his or her voice in criticism, which Fortuyn did.

The Netherlands is not Britain, or the United States. Here is a country where if you win votes, you get representatives in Parliament and you get on TV. Our friends in the Socialist Party (SP) received 3.5% of the votes at the last election and have 5 MPs. They are hoping to better that next week. They are not wedded to parliamentarianism, either, but are also active on the street and in a range of campaigns. The Netherlands isn’t paradise but as capitalist democracies go, it works. There is plenty of space to do real politics, inside or outside the system. There’s a lively, playful anarchist movement and tradition, two parliamentary left parties, and lots of active local and national campaigning on social, environmental and civil liberties issues. The last thing anyone needed was some crazy with a gun.

Pim Fortuyn was not le Pen, or Hitler, or George W. Bush. He was just a colourful man who was wrong about a lot of stuff, though no wronger than most politicians. He was committed to democracy, and never questioned people’s right to vote against him. Instead of characterising him as a fascist, the SP campaign concentrated on hammering away at the fact that, if you look at it carefully, the programme of his party, underneath all the rhetoric, is in fact pretty well identical to the current coalition government’s.

This declaration is endorsed by the SP

You are here