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Thursday, 16 May, 2002, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
Profile: Fortuyn's new champion
The moustachioid Mat Herben may seem a far-cry from the smooth-headed and flamboyant Pim Fortuyn, but he now carries the hopes of the party for a big future in Dutch politics.


He may not have the flamboyancy or the unique charisma of Pim - but he will keep Pim's ideas alive

William van der Verden
LPF Secretary General
Mr Herben joined the Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) three months ago, shortly after it was set up on a platform promoting law and order and an end to immigration.

Before that he had worked for the Dutch Defence Ministry, as a spokesman and as the editor of the its staff magazine.

He is also reported to have acted as spokesman for a Freemason's lodge.

Regarded by Mr Fortuyn as a public relations specialist, he was appointed to the role of spokesman for the party too.

Just after the murder of Mr Fortuyn, it was Mr Herben who led a delegation of party members to meet Prime Minister Wim Kok.

"He is definitely the right choice," LPF Secretary General William van der Verden told BBC News Online.

"He may not have the flamboyancy or the unique charisma of Pim - he will do the job differently, but he will keep Pim's ideas alive."

Enough shaking

The task falls to Mr Herben of proving whether the LPF can indeed survive without its founder.


For us the most important thing to do is not to shake up this country - we already did that

Mat Herben
Mr Herben, who would like the LPF to be invited to form a coalition government with the Christian Democrats sought to make light of one of the key planks of Fortuyn policy - closing the Netherlands' borders to foreigners.

"We want to dig a channel, first of all, that would close off Holland," he joked.

But he went on to say that his party, credited with breaking the mould of Dutch politics, did not intend to rock the boat any further.

"For us the most important thing to do is not to shake up this country, we already did that, I believe" he said.

"We have no further thoughts about shaking up this country, we want to create a stable government where we can realise the aims of our party - prosperity, health, education and reducing crime."

These aims, he said, were shared with all the other major political parties.

But voters who warmed to Mr Fortuyn's bombastic declarations, may want the shake-up of the traditional Dutch order to continue.

Analysts say Mr Herben has a lot of expectations to fulfil, and has taken on a job which may prove hard, if not impossible.

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
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