Fortuyn's heirs eclipsed as big parties move right

There are no television cameras at Overschie market in Rotterdam and just one local newspaper journalist has turned up for the arrival of the leader of the party made famous by the murdered anti-immigration campaigner Pim Fortuyn.

In 2002, Olaf Stuger made his mark by flying overnight in a freight plane from his holiday in Lanzarote to get a chance to meet Mr Fortuyn, and now heads the party which bares the name of the assassinated leader.

But, though the Fortuyn party won 26 parliamentary seats four years ago, Mr Stuger's ambition is to win just two seats in today's Dutch elections. Ignored by the Dutch media and sidelined in the national debate, many believe Mr Stuger's target is over-optimistic.

Four years after the demise of Mr Fortuyn, who was murdered by an animal rights activist, no fewer than four fringe parties are battling for the votes of his supporters. They have to compete with mainstream politicians like Rita Verdonk, the outgoing immigration minister from the VVD Liberals, who has announced plans to ban the burqa.

Ms Verdonk's party is struggling to maintain its place in a ruling coalition but the prime minister and Christian Democrat leader Jan Peter Balkenende is likely to return to power, possibly in a broad coalition with the socialist opposition.

Mr Stuger is sitting in a school bus which serves as a mobile campaign headquarters as he declares: "The mainstream parties have taken some of our issues, like immigration, but not the issue of integration."

In a restaurant a few miles away, the man many believe to be the real heir to Mr Fortuyn is Marco Pastors, leader of the Een NL (One Netherlands) party, who argues that radical Islam is being appeased in the same way as Nazism was in 1930s Germany. "There are big similarities," he says. "There were indications that developments in Germany were going the wrong way; that Germany was preparing for war; that Germany was making the Jews the scapegoat."

Mr Pastors criticises customs such as arranged marriages, lack of tolerance of homosexuality and lack of freedom to renounce the Islamic faith. He adds: "No one took measures against what Germany was doing. What we are doing is not taking actions against Muslims in quarters where they are living."

At one point Mr Pastors thought he could win dozens of seats, but now he is aiming for about 10. He considers his main rival to be Geert Wilders, a former member of the VVD Liberals who now leads the Party of Freedom. Outspoken in his criticism of Islam, Mr Wilders is under 24-hour police protection.

Another populist politician, Hilbrand Nawijn, can also reasonably lay claim to the mantle of Mr Fortuyn. A former member of Mr Fortuyn's group, Mr Nawijn heads a new Party for the Netherlands. Mr Pastors admits that the Fortuyn "heritage is scattered" and that his failure to unite with kindred spirits "could be one of the things I regret".

Populist right-wingers have suffered from the disastrous, fractious, role the Fortuyn party played in a short-lived government in 2002. But most of all they have been squeezed by mainstream politicians such as Ms Verdonk whose tough line against immigrants has been a prominent feature of the government.

Marc Peeperkorn, political correspondent of the Volkskrant newspaper, argues: "What we are seeing in the election is the end of the Fortuyn story. Mainstream parties have taken his policies on board".

At the bus stop in Overschie, Yvonne Measter, an audio engineer and former Fortuyn supporter who plans to vote socialist, agrees. "I voted for him once but not now," she says. "He has charisma and stood up for things. But Pim is not there any more."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teacher, Permanent Role in Ashford

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad urgently seeks a qualif...

SAP BI CONSULTANT

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BI CONSULTA...

Infrastructure Manager - Southampton - Up to £45K

£35000 - £45000 per annum + 36 days holiday and more: Deerfoot IT Resources Li...

Drama Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice