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 Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 17:40 GMT
Fortuyn ghost stalks Dutch politics
Pim Fortuyn
Pim Fortuyn's influence can still be felt

The Netherlands' anti-immigration party, the Pim Fortuyn List (LPF), came out of nowhere to gain second place in the elections last May, a week after its charismatic leader was killed.

Now the party has won only a handful of seats in a re-run of the election.

People think we still believe in what Pim Fortuyn said, but they are not quite sure whether we are the right people, the right party, to get his ideas into practice

Margot Kraneveldt
LPF candidate
Public squabbling in the LPF brought down its coalition with the Christian Democrats last October.

But as LPF candidate Margot Kraneveldt points out, the party still has some influence.

"People think we still believe in what Pim Fortuyn said, but they are not quite sure whether we are the right people, the right party, to get his ideas into practice," she said.

Since the rise of Pim Fortuyn, the major parties have not just toughened their stance on immigration - some seem to have adopted his ideas.

The liberal VVD party recently echoed Pim Fortuyn's sentiments that Holland was full.

Somalian refugee and VVD candidate Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Ali agrees with Fortuyn on Muslims
Somalian refugee and VVD candidate Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a former Muslim.

She caused a furore a few months ago when she, like Mr Fortuyn, said Islam was a backward religion. Now she goes everywhere with a bunch of bodyguards.

I asked her why the VVD had shifted more to the right.

"It depends on how we define right," she said. "They say we really have to change integration policy and this time they mean it.

"If that is right-wing, then maybe you could say they've moved to the right."

Pim Fortuyn made it OK to speak out what you feel - it's fashionable to be impolite, to be intolerant and to be actually rude to the immigrants

Memdouh Baridi
Muslim rally organiser
Most first-generation Muslims in the Netherlands came from Turkey and Morocco as guest-workers in the 1970s.

But the second-generation Muslim youths are now Dutch citizens.

A rally held on Saturday to launch their new lobby group, Changing Course, is just one of several recent initiatives to promote the integration of ethnic minorities in the Netherlands.

Labour Party's Job Cohen
Job Cohen wants softer line on immigration
The Mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen - who is Labour's candidate for prime minister - spoke at the rally. He believes the outgoing centre-right coalition of Christian Democrats, Liberals and LPF are too hard on immigrants.

One of the rally organisers, Memdouh Baridi, said young Muslims felt stigmatised.

"People were thinking all these thoughts and Pim Fortuyn made it OK to speak out what you feel," he said.

"It is fashionable to be impolite, to be intolerant and to be actually rude to immigrants.

"I hope it is just a temporary thing because it is also forcing the ethnic minorities in Holland and the immigrants to stand up and claim their rights in a society. It is like a wake-up call."

Straight talking

The main parties have pledged a new approach to politics, open government and listening to voters.

Hans Andringa, a political editor at Radio Netherlands, said: "Now everybody's trying to learn the lesson of Mr Fortuyn: Don't speak in difficult political jargon, try to speak simply and naturally so that everybody can understand what you mean, and do not be afraid of saying things that might not be popular."

LPF campaigners know their party has slumped in the polls, but members have vowed to keep Pim Fortuyn's legacy alive.

They expect to go into opposition after the elections and say they will act as a political watchdog, aiming to exert Mr Fortuyn's influence in parliament at every opportunity.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Chris Morris
"Fortuyn's ideas and political style live on"
See also:

16 Oct 02 | Europe
16 Oct 02 | Europe
22 Jul 02 | Europe
04 Jul 02 | Europe
16 May 02 | Europe
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