The charismatic leader of a far-right party in the Netherlands, which had rapidly emerged to become a major force in Dutch politics, Fortuyn was assassinated on May 6, 2002.
Pim Fortuyn was vociferously opposed to all immigration into the Netherlands, and had called Islam a backward religion. To this extent he was similar to other far-right demagogues like Jean-Marie Le Pen and Jörg Haider; however, he was no dour conservative. Openly, almost flamboyantly, homosexual, and with a taste for fine clothes, he had garnered surprisingly wide appeal.
He was born on 19 February 1948, and studied sociology. He became a professor of sociology, and liked to be called Professor Pim. He was a prominent commentator for many years, and came to head a rightist party called Leefbaar Nederland (Livable Netherlands). But in February this year his call for the repeal of anti-discrimination legislation, so that for example Muslims could be singled out, led to his removal as head of the party.
He went on to form a new party, called Lijst Pim Fortuyn. He took one third of the vote in a Rotterdam local election, and opinion polls said his list could win as much as 15% (even 20%) in the forthcoming general election on 15 May, which would make Fortuyn a major player and possible kingmaker in the next government. It was even suggested he could become prime minister.
Fortuyn was shot multiple times by a lone gunman in the city of Hilversum after leaving a radio studio. The assassin has not yet (at time of noding) been caught, and their affiliations are unknown. Outgoing Prime Minister Wim Kok has expressed the nation's outrage and sadness at the loss of innocence this tragedy represents for the Netherlands.
Some Dutch-language websites paying homage to him are www.pim-fortuyn.nl and www.pim-fortuyn.com and www.pimfortuyn.nu, and all have been updated to pay tribute, but as my grasp of Dutch is minimal I can't get much more from them. The same goes for most other Google hits: is doodgeschoten 'is shot dead', okay, that's easy.
Update. Okay, I don't want to encroach on the writeups below me, and I don't want to be stuck with updating this over the coming months, but here are some brief additions to my original writeup:
- The Dutch cabinet met in emergency session the following day and decided not to postpone the election. They paid a lot of attention to the views of the Lijst Pim Fortuyn, obviously. No-one knows whether the List will fall apart without their leader, or whether they will gain more from the sympathy vote.
- The assassin, or at least the person arrested, has been identified as a white Dutchman, linked with environmental causes. This is quite a surprise, if true, and if connected, because the Lijst weren't particularly outspoken on the environmental scene.
- Sorry, my node is over simplistic in some respects. I was picking up BBC coverage when the news first broke. -- This is simply awful. I cannot convey how bad I feel that assassination has hit a civilized, tolerant European democracy. We (I'm not Dutch, but I'm European) are all in mourning, not just the Netherlands, not just the right-wing extremists who supported him.