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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 07:03 GMT 08:03 UK
European press review

Newspapers express shock at the shooting of right-wing Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn and warn of a deep sense of unease within European society.

"Amazement and rage at murder of Pim Fortuyn" declares the popular Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad, while Protestant daily Trouw speaks of "Disbelief after murder of Fortuyn".

In a front-page editorial comment, the broadsheet De Volkskrant describes Fortuyn's death as "the first political murder in Dutch modern history".

It adds: "Much is still unclear about the murderer's motives, but what is clear is that the Netherlands has lost its innocence thanks to this repugnant and incredible attack."


The slaying of Pim Fortuyn comes at a particularly delicate time in view of the dangerous political turbulence around Europe

Spain's ABC
Elsewhere, Copenhagen daily Information says Fortuyn, who looked set to gain a significant number of votes in next week's elections, instead of becoming a "victor" has become "national populism's first martyr".

But it adds that athough Mr Fortuyn is dead, "the protest from the lowest echelons lives on". Whoever shot Mr Fortuyn has "fed the disquiet, the division and the rebellion that lurks in Europe".

Even if Mr Fortuyn's party falls with its leader, Europe's elite can be sure that the anger in society's lowest echelons will remain and that it will find new spokesmen, the paper warns.

'Political phenomenon'

The "populist who made the Netherlands tremble" is how Switzerland's Le Temps describes Fortuyn.

His assassination "has come as a profound political shock," it says.


The killing of Pim Fortuyn is a setback as well as a dramatic warning

Avui

He was a "political phenomenon," the paper says in a separate commentary. "Unknown to his compatriots until just under a year ago... [he] looked a likely kingmaker for after the 15 May general elections."

"The attack cost the Dutch 'Le Pen' his life", reads the headline in Prague's Lidove noviny.

The paper says that comparisons were regularly drawn between the Dutch politician, French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen and Austria's Joerg Haider.

Fortuyn himself, however, rejected these parallels, the paper says, "despite the fact that there were some common themes in all three ultra-right politicians' programmes".

Turbulent times

The assassination ofFortuyn "has upset a tranquil Netherlands which had never before seen one of its politicians murdered", the Spanish ABC says.

Whether "politically motivated, a settlement of scores or the action of a deranged mind", the paper says, "the slaying of Pim Fortuyn comes at a particularly delicate time in view of the dangerous political turbulence around Europe".


Mr Fortuyn stood out through his lifestyle and for challenging the nation's multiculturalism and traditional political consensus

International Herald Tribune

It "will undoubtedly provide a propaganda boost for his cause".

The attack has destroyed the "haven of political tranquility and paradise of consensus government which had made the Netherlands a paradigm of stability for the past 20 years", says Madrid's El Pais.

"Whatever the motives for the crime," the killing of Fortuyn "marks a definitive watershed for the Dutch model".

"We shall never know," it adds, "how real his chances to make a personal mark in Dutch politics were, but on 15 May we will find out if the Fortuyn List has withstood the tragic death of its founder."

Self-examination

The killing highlights the "urgent need for European society to engage in a period of self-examination" and "restore to politics... the credibility it has gradually been losing", says Barcelona's Avui.

"In this context," the paper adds, "the killing of Pim Fortuyn is a setback as well as a dramatic warning."

The Paris-based International Herald Tribune also wonders how the political grouping known as the Pim Fortuyn List will fare after its founder's death.

A weak internal structure and lack of nationally recognised leaders make it questionable whether it will survive, the paper says.

In a country where politics is "marked by blandness", it continues, Mr Fortuyn "stood out through his lifestyle and for challenging the nation's multiculturalism and traditional political consensus".

Political analysts said Mr Fortuyn had "forcefully expressed the general sense of dissatisfaction that many citizens feel on such issues", the paper recalls.

The European press review is compiled by BBC Monitoring from internet editions of the main European newspapers and some early printed editions.

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


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