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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Dutch election to go ahead
Mourners outside home of Pim Fortuyn
The killing has stunned the Netherlands
The Dutch Government has decided to go ahead with next week's general election, despite the murder of controversial anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn.

Pim Fortuyn
Fortuyn: Described Islam as "backward"
Prime Minister Wim Kok spent the morning meeting political leaders - including members of Fortuyn's right-wing party - before announcing that there would be no postponement of the 15 May poll.

"It would be sensible not to change the original date," Mr Kok told reporters, adding that the decision meant that "democracy had prevailed".

Fortuyn, 54, an openly gay politician who was attracting widespread support for his policy of restricting immigration to the Netherlands, was shot dead on Monday evening by a lone gunman.

But during Tuesday's meeting with Mr Kok, his party - Fortuyn's List - requested that the election be held as originally planned.

"Of course we took into serious consideration what we heard from Pim Fortuyn's List, but also the opinions of the other political parties," said Mr Kok.

Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok
Wim Kok: "A dark shadow has fallen over the Netherlands"
The BBC's Tim Franks says that some of Fortuyn's supporters are keen to press ahead with the poll, believing they will never have a better chance of winning support for a radical anti-immigration manifesto.

It is not clear yet whether the party will retain the name of its late leader.

Minutes after making the election announcement, the Dutch prime minister led a minute's silence in the upper house of Parliament in memory of Fortuyn.

"A dark shadow has fallen over the Netherlands that has given way to deep emotions," he told the house.

Man arrested

The shooting happened after Fortuyn had given a radio interview in the central Dutch city of Hilversum.

Police have arrested a 32-year-old white Dutchman in connection with the killing, which has stunned the normally peaceful Netherlands.

Fortuyn's policies
Halt immigration
Integrate existing immigrants
Re-erect Dutch border controls
Sack 25% of civil servants
End Dutch system of consensus politics
The public prosecutor has dismissed media reports that the assassin was an environmental activist who had been known to the intelligence services.

There has been speculation that Fortuyn's call for the lifting of a ban on fur farming may have motivated the attack.

The public prosecutor said ammunition was found at the suspect's house, matching the calibre of the bullets which killed Fortuyn. Police also removed environmental literature from his home.

Politicians across Europe and the United States have expressed shock at the murder.

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said he believed something like this was "impossible in this day and age, in the European Union, in the 21st Century".

"The United States ... condemns this senseless act of violence," said State Department spokeswoman Brenda Greenberg.

Bruno Megret, head of France's right-wing National Republican Movement (MNR), said: "If it was politically motivated, this criminal act shows to what extent certain hysterical positions like those shown by the French left over the past 15 days can incite hatred."

'Close the borders'

Fortuyn came to prominence in March when his party made a strong showing in local elections in Rotterdam.

He provoked public indignation by calling for the Netherlands' borders to be closed to immigrants and by describing Islam as a "backward" religion.

Eyewitnesses said a single gunman shot Fortuyn as he got into a chauffeur-driven limousine in a media park after the radio interview.

He was hit six times, suffering multiple wounds in the head, chest and neck, and died shortly afterwards.

In an interview last week, Fortuyn expressed fears that he might be the victim of an attack and said he had received threats by phone, email and letter.

In the hours after the killing, scuffles broke out in front of the parliament building in The Hague between police and Fortuyn supporters, who had gathered to express their anger at his death.

About 300 people were involved in the protest, in which bottles and stones were thrown at police.

The BBC's Angus Roxburgh in Rotterdam
"Is it possible Fortuyn's own party will benefit from his brutal murder?"
The BBC's Paul Andersson reports from Rotterdam
"Fortuyn's party officials lobbied hard for the vote to be held on schedule"
See also:

07 May 02 | Europe
Analysis: The immigration message
07 May 02 | Uefa Cup
Uefa Cup final goes ahead
07 May 02 | Europe
Dutch press in shock
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