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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £40,000

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Contracts / Sales Administrator

£19500 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Knowledge of and ability to use...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence