BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 16 May, 2002, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Fortuyn party's major tasks
Mat Herben
Mr Herben is the new face of Pim Fortuyn's party
A former journalist elected to lead Pim Fortuyn's anti-immigration party faces a major challenge to secure its long-term future.

The three-month-old party has only the beginnings of a political programme, and may soon be asked to provide ministers for a coalition government.

Winnie de Jong
Ms de Jong: Pipped to the leadership by Mr Herben
Although credited with breaking the mould of Dutch politics, Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) is a disparate band, and only one member has high-level political experience.

The party's new leader, 49-year-old Mat Herben, is the former editor of a staff magazine at the Dutch Defence Ministry.

He took the role after two weeks of alleged infighting within the party over who would take over from the murdered leader, Pim Fortuyn.

The favourite had been a former model, Winnie de Jong.

There is not a minister among them

Pim Fortuyn
The party still has to decide which of its political novices it would put forward to form a government, should it be invited to form a coalition by the centre-right Christian Democrats.

"We feel like orphans," admitted Mr Herben last night, as the news broke that the party had taken the second-largest share of the vote despite the loss of Mr Fortuyn.

Pim's verdict

The one LPF member with a long political record is Jim Janssen van Ray, a member of the European Parliament for nearly 20 years.

Joao Varela
Mr Varela: LPF wants ministries dealing with immigration and crime
He represented the Christian Democratic Party, but left it six years ago over after allegations that he used his position for personal gain.

The LPF reportedly passed over him for the leadership fearing he was, at 69, too old to represent a movement which embodied political change.

Ms de Jong, who was appointed by Mr Fortuyn to the upper echelons of the party after receiving her CV, did once work for the Agriculture Ministry, experience which some say could stand her in good stead for a role in the cabinet and others feel is irrelevant.

Key policies
Halt immigration
Make Muslims adopt liberal values
Imprison more criminals
Mr Fortuyn had earmarked Joao Varela, a 27-year-old black cosmetics executive from the Cape Verde, for the role of immigration minister.

However at other times Mr Fortuyn showed a marked lack of confidence in his party comrades.

"There is not a minister among them," he once said. "Not even a junior one."

No programme

There are suggestions that the party could even look outside its own ranks to find people competent enough to represent it.

On Wednesday night, Mr Varela said the party had campaigned on the issues of law and order, immigration and health and would therefore like to occupy such posts in a future cabinet.

The party has no precise programme, although its position on crime and immigration has become well-known: Close the borders to foreigners, oblige immigrants - particularly Muslims - to integrate, and tackle crime by placing more criminals in prison.

Analysts say that it will need to develop a more sophisticated philosophy if the party is to have any chance of surviving in the long term.

Voters' fears, they argue, are not a durable source of support.

See also:

15 May 02 | Europe
Dutch vote in shadow of killing
15 May 02 | Europe
Fortuyn's foes named in lawsuit
15 May 02 | Europe
Brisk start to Dutch polling
15 May 02 | Europe
Holland steps into the unknown
14 May 02 | Europe
Inquiry into Fortuyn's security
13 May 02 | Europe
Fortuyn party soars in polls
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

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

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories