Pim Fortuyn List

Pim Fortuyn List
Lijst Pim Fortuyn
Abbreviation LPF
Founder Pim Fortuyn
Founded 14 February 2002 (2002-02-14)
Dissolved 1 January 2008 (2008-01-01)
Split from Livable Netherlands
Headquarters Rotterdam
Youth wing Young Fortuynisten
Thinktank Prof.Dr. W.S.P. Fortuynstichting
Ideology Right-wing populism[1]
Political position Centre-right[3]
European affiliation None
International affiliation None
European Parliament group None
Colours Yellow and Blue

The Pim Fortuyn List (Dutch: Lijst Pim Fortuyn, LPF) was a right-wing populist[4][5] political party in the Netherlands. The eponymous founder of the party was Pim Fortuyn, a charismatic former university professor and political columnist who initially had planned to contest the 2002 general election as leader of the Livable Netherlands (LN) party. He was however dismissed as party leader in February 2002 due to controversial remarks he made in a newspaper interview on immigration-related issues, and instead founded LPF a few days later. After gaining support in opinion polls, Fortuyn was assassinated on 6 May 2002, days before the election. The party held onto its support, and went on to become the second-largest party in the election.

The LPF formed part of a coalition government with the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), but internal conflicts in the LPF led to the coalition's break-up and fresh elections after a few months. Following the 2003 election, the party was left in opposition. It became clear that the party was not viable without its original leader, and it went into decline until it was finally dissolved in 2008.



Fortuyn announced his intention to run for parliament in a television interview on 20 August 2001. An unusual aspect of this was that it was not yet clear which political party he would be a candidate for. Although he was already in contact with the Livable Netherlands (LN) party, he initially also considered running for the CDA or creating his own list. On 25 November he was chosen as party leader for the LN. The LN functioned as the national extension of a movement that had contested municipal but never national elections.[6][7] Fortuyn concluded his acceptance speech by saying the words that would become his slogan; "At your service!"[6] Almost immediately after Fortuyn became leader, LN went from 2% in opinion polls to about 17%.[8] In January 2002, it was announced that Fortuyn also would head the Livable Rotterdam (LR) list for the March 2002 local elections. The official 2002 election study found that immigration and integration problems were the second most important issue for voters after issues concerning the health care system. Helped by the many speeches and interviews given by Fortuyn, immigration issues became the major topic of the national political agenda, thereby forcing other parties to react.[9]

Founder and Leader Pim Fortuyn in 2002.

Until February, the LN had received disproportionate and generally sympathetic coverage in the media. The situation took a dramatic turn on 9 February, when Fortuyn was interviewed in de Volkskrant, one of the leading national newspapers. Against the strong advice of his campaign team, he made several controversial statements; including one that said Islam was "a backward culture", that no more asylum seekers would be allowed into the country, and, if necessary, the possible repeal of anti-racism clauses in the Dutch Constitution to protect freedom of speech. Fortuyn was dismissed as party leader the next day, and in a television interview said that the split was irreparable, although he would have preferred to remain in the party.[9] He founded Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) on 11 February.[7] Opinion polls soon showed that he took most of LN's supporters with him, leaving LN with its original 2%, while Fortuyn soared to 17%.[8][9] The local LR—which held on to Fortuyn as its leader—was hugely successful in the March 2002 local elections, as it won more than one third of the vote and became Rotterdam's strongest party.[10]

LPF 2002 election poster featuring Pim Fortuyn with his slogan "At your service!"

Fortuyn assassination

For more details on this topic, see Assassination of Pim Fortuyn.

It was reported in February 2002 that Fortuyn did not dare to appear in public owing to death threats. In March, he was attacked by pie-throwing activists at the presentation of his new book De puinhopen van acht jaar Paars (which became the bestselling book by a Dutch author in the Netherlands in 2002).[11] Despite this, the authorities did not provide protection for Fortuyn, nor did he request protection. On 6 May, Fortuyn was assassinated outside a radio studio.[10] This was the first political murder in the Netherlands for centuries (excluding the Second World War). Some claimed that by "demonising" Fortuyn, the political left and the media had created a climate of opinion that had made the assassination possible.[12] Campaigning immediately stopped, and although some suggested postponing the elections, the campaign resumed (half-heartedly) after his funeral four days later.[8][13] His funeral was broadcast live on television and, according to Cas Mudde, lead "to scenes of mass hysteria not seen since the Dutch national football team won the European Championship in 1988."[8] The murder of Fortuyn, together with that of Theo van Gogh two years later, would result in a polarisation in the political debate in the Netherlands, and subsequently radical changes in immigration-related policies and public discourse.[14]

First Balkenende cabinet (2002–2003)

The LPF decided to maintain Fortuyn's candidacy, and delayed naming a new leader until after the election.[15] The 2002 general election proved a great success for the LPF, yielding 17% of the votes and 26 seats in the House of Representatives—by far a record number of seats in the Netherlands for a new party—to become the second largest party. LN also made it into Parliament, with two seats. The Labour Party (PvdA) and People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) saw their largest-ever losses, while the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) won large gains.[13] CDA leader Jan Peter Balkenende had earlier announced that his party would follow a tougher line towards asylum seekers, and he later agreed with much of Fortuyn's criticism of the purple coalition and Holland's multicultural society.[9][16] As leader of the strongest party, Balkenende became the leading candidate for Prime Minister.[13]

Following the election, Mat Herben was chosen as LPF party leader as Fortuyn's successor. Together with the CDA and the VVD, the party formed part of the governing coalition, and supplied several members for the Balkenende cabinet. The party was granted four of fourteen cabinet seats, for immigration, economics, health and sports.[17] But without its original leader and lack of a clearly defined organisational structure, the LPF soon succumbed to highly public internal squabbles. By October 2002, the break-up of the government coalition was triggered by the bickering of LPF Ministers Eduard Bomhoff and Herman Heinsbroek.[18]

Opposition and disintegration (2003–2006)

In the January 2003 general election, the LPF shrank to 5.7% support and eight seats.[18] Following the election the LPF was exchanged for the Democrats 66 in the government coalition, and would find it hard to maintain support in opposition. Besides Joost Eerdmans, most of its Members of Parliament were not very visible, while party leader Herben had enough work just keeping the party from further infighting. The party also went into financial straits, and as the new coalition continued most of the former coalition's policies, it was hard for the LPF to oppose the government.[19]

The LPF won just 2.6% of the vote in the 2004 European Parliament election, and did not win a seat. In this election, Paul van Buitenen surprisingly won two seats with his anti-corruption Europe Transparent (although it was not successful in the long term). By 2004, the LPF had fallen to a less than 1% support and disintegrated. The party had lost most of its members, and the parliamentary faction had declared itself independent from the party.[19]

List Five Fortuyn (2006–2008)

The LPF participated in the 2006 general election under its new name List Five Fortuyn (Lijst Vijf Fortuyn). On 25 September 2006, the party released its campaign commercial, which featured new leader Olaf Stuger coming down from "heaven" with a parachute and presenting himself as a "reincarnation" of Pim Fortuyn. Marten Fortuyn, brother of Pim Fortuyn, declared it "outrageous and tasteless."[20] In the election, LVF did not receive enough votes to secure a seat with support of only 0.2%.[21] In July 2007, the party voted to dissolve itself on 1 January 2008.[22]

Fortuyn's political heritage scattered among various politicians, many of which were not successful. These include Marco Pastors, leader of the One NL, and Hilbrand Nawijn, leader of the Party for the Netherlands—none of which managed to win a seat in the 2006 election. More importantly however, the party had been squeezed out by the tougher line on immigration issues by mainstream politicians such as Minister for Integration and Immigration Rita Verdonk, who largely adopted Fortuyn's policies.[21] By the end of the decade, former LPF supporters had mostly moved to support Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom (PVV).[19]



The ideology or political style that is derived from Pim Fortuyn, and in turn the LPF, is often called Fortuynism. Observers variously saw him as a political protest targeting the alleged elitism and bureaucratic style of the Dutch purple coalitions or as offering an appealing political style. The style was characterized variously as one "of openness, directness and clearness", populism or simply as charisma. Another school holds Fortuynism as a distinct ideology, with an alternative vision of society. Some argued that Fortuynism was not just one ideology, but contained liberalism, populism and nationalism.[23]

During the 2002 campaign, Fortuyn was accused of being on the "extreme right", although others saw only certain similarities.[24] While he employed anti-immigration rhetoric, he was neither a radical nationalist nor a defender of traditional authoritarian values. On the contrary, Fortuyn wanted to protect the socio-culturally liberal values of the Netherlands, women's rights and sexual minorities (he was openly homosexual himself), from the "backward" Islamic culture.[25] The LPF also won support from some ethnic minorities; one of Fortuyn's closest associates was of Cape Verdean origin, and one of the party's MPs was a young woman of Turkish descent.[26]

Foreign policy

Although the LPF was established post-9/11, Fortuyn had already developed a worldview based on the "clash between civilizations", namely between "modernity" and Islam, or Western society and Islamic culture. The LPF supported NATO, but was eurosceptic and saw the European Union as a "bureaucracy which barely interests its citizens, let alone inspires them." The party did however not oppose the project of European integration in general, but rather its present organization, lack of democracy and threat to national sovereignty. Opposing the full membership of Turkey, Albania, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, the LPF maintained that the European Union "shouldn't cross the Bosporus and the Ural".[27]

Election results


Election year House of Representatives Government Notes
# of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
2002 1,614,801 17.0 (#2)
26 / 150
in coalition
2003 549,975 5.7 (#5)
8 / 150
Decrease 18 in opposition
2006[28] 20,956 0.2
0 / 150
Decrease 8

European Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Notes
2004 121,509 2.6
0 / 27




  1. David Art (2011). "Memory Politics in Western Europe". In Uwe Backes; Patrick Moreau. The Extreme Right in Europe: Current Trends and Perspectives. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 361. ISBN 978-3-647-36922-8.
  2. Andeweg, R. and G. Irwin Politics and Governance in the Netherlands, Basingstoke (Palgrave) p.49
  3. Keman, Hans (2008), "The Low Countries: Confrontation and Coalition in Segmented Societies", Comparative European Politics, Taylor & Francis, p. 221
  4. Peter Starke; Alexandra Kaasch; Franca Van Hooren (2013). The Welfare State as Crisis Manager: Explaining the Diversity of Policy Responses to Economic Crisis. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 193. ISBN 978-1-137-31484-0.
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  7. 1 2 Mudde 2007, pp. 210–211
  8. 1 2 3 4 Mudde 2007, p. 211
  9. 1 2 3 4 Rydgren & van Holsteyn 2005, p. 46
  10. 1 2 Rydgren & van Holsteyn 2005, p. 47
  11. http://web.cpnb.nl/blobs/cpnb/61970/2010/22/CPNBTOP100_2002.pdf
  12. Borchert, Jens; Zeiss, Jürgen (2003). The political class in advanced democracies. Oxford University Press. p. 275. ISBN 978-0-19-926036-2.
  13. 1 2 3 Rydgren & van Holsteyn 2005, p. 48
  14. "ISS Development Research Seminar Series – Autumn 2010". International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam. 15 December 2010.
  15. Eyerman, Ron (2008). The assassination of Theo Van Gogh: from social drama to cultural trauma. Duke University Press. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-8223-4406-3.
  16. Van Hecke, Steven; Gerard, Emmanuel (2004). Christian democratic parties in Europe since the end of the Cold War. Leuven University Press. p. 166. ISBN 978-90-5867-377-0.
  17. Judd, Terri (12 July 2002). "Far right gets immigration post in new Dutch cabinet". The Independent. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  18. 1 2 Spiering, Menno (2005). Euroscepticism: party politics, national identity and European integration. Rodopi. pp. 115–116. ISBN 978-90-420-1946-1.
  19. 1 2 3 Mudde 2007, p. 213
  20. "Marten Fortuyn woedend over spot nieuwe LPF". RTL Nieuws (in Dutch). 25 September 2006. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  21. 1 2 Castle, Stephen (22 November 2006). "Fortuyn's heirs eclipsed as big parties move right". The Independent. Rotterdam. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  22. "LPF to disband on New Year's Day 2008". DutchNews.nl. 23 July 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  23. Mudde 2007, pp. 213–214
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  27. Mudde 2007, pp. 216–218
  28. Tweede-Kamerverkiezingen – 21 november 2006, House of Representatives Elections – November 22, 2006


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