Update: May 16, 2002 : Dutch election results confirm the popularity of the three month old party. With 80% of the registered electorate casting a ballot, Fortuyn’s List (LPF) garnered second place in the pools (with 26 seats), behind the centrist Christian Democrats (43 seats). Mat Herben, a former journalist and ex-Defence Ministry spokesman, has been chosen to lead the LPF. Together, the two parties will likely form a coalition government, not uncommon since the Netherlands uses a system of proportional representation.
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
~ W.H. Auden, from September 1, 1939
According to the Guardian (Fortuyn suspect is animal rights activist, May 7, 2001, 5: 30 GMT), Volkert van der Graaf, the assassin of Pim Fortuyn was a white, Dutch animal rights activist from the town of Harderwijk (in the bible belt region of The Netherlands). Reuters confirms this, adding the 32-year-old male had 'environmentalist' material and stockpiled ammunition in his home.

While coverage over the first twenty four hours focused on Fortuyn’s anti-immigrant policies1, it seems ironically that it was his public musing about lifting the ban on the fur trade (specifically, mink farming) in the region which led to his death. Rather than Islamic extremists or anti-gay neo-Nazis, it now appears to be an highly symbolic act of political ecoterrorism (Reuters, 'Dutch election to go ahead', May 7, 2001, BST). The motive shocked his political organizers, who stated firmly the party had barely even addressed the question of animal rights, and certainly had no pressing legislative agenda in that area. A well-placed eco-fascist seems to have resolved that issue prematurely, on behalf of a stunned Dutch electorate. According to Ananova, the suspect now in custody belonged to militant environmentalist group Milieu-offensief (Environmental Offensive: http://www.vmow.demon.nl/). However, after being arrested while fleeing the scene, questioned and charged, it appears Van der Graaf was acting alone.

According to ITN, recent polls had suggested one in five Dutch wanted Fortuyn's party in government. While Fortuyn made political capital of what he pointed out was an anti-democratic ethos underlying conservative Islam, in the end it was an unrelated puritanism (in another radicial force entirely) which gunned him down. The man in custody is quoted on one environmentalist site, "Many animal protectors act from the assumption that 'nature is good', but every dark side of humans can also be found in nature. Protecting animals is civilizing people." Indeed.2

In a widely read BBC interview, conducted the day before his death, Fortuyn spent much of his time with the journalist in his Rotterdam flat, openly fawning over his two beloved pet dogs (BBC News, ‘At Home with Professor Pim’, May 4, 2002). The interviewer mentioned the death threats he had recieved. In fact, several weeks before his death, Fortuyn had been hit with dung pies by several environmentalists as he exited a political debate; local police largely ignored the incident and no charges were filed.

Update: Mourning the loss of its political innocence, built up over centuries, The Guardian (Pim the martyr unites a city in grief , May 8, 2002) now reports many of the people of Rotterdam may be set to make Fortuyn a martyr for his ideals. Already having clinched 35% of the popular vote in the last set of local elections, his party now may ride a wave of sympathy and frustration with passionless politics. Already small shrines of flowers, candles and photographs have been placed throughout the city, as lines of thousands leave condolences and remembrance; already the conspiracy talk spreads - talk of politicians in Brussels who felt threatened by the maverick politician’s charismatic style. One young student points a finger at the established authorities, an unemployed window washer compares him to JFK, a 75-year old pensioned likens him to Jesus. Meanwhile, the party itself has no plans to replace his vacated leadership until after elections next week. Joao Valera, aged 27, a local businessman whose parents emigrated to the Netherlands from the Cape Verde islands is believed to be the strongest candidate to take the party helm.
1 Fortuyn's stance against Islamism can be seen as simply opportunistic, taking advantage of wide-spread public sentiment (an easy vote getter, like kissing babies) and personal stake (Sharia law, after all, comes down very hard on homosexuality). As The Times puts it, he has made an "ideological conflict out of what is a demographic problem" (R. Boyes, Fortuyn blind to genie he unbottled). However, that said, most of his policies seem to have been focused on the necessity of cultural integration, more in the style of the American 'melting pot' model, and stricter quotas. He was essentially a radical reformer, but hardly an extremist (unlike other European neo-cons, such as Haider or LePen, he never proposed any sort of deportation or rights infringement). In fact, The Times (UK) editorial, "Deadly ideas" (May 7, 2002) states quite rightly, "there is no evidence that he was anti-Semitic, chauvinist, hostile to the welfare state or any of the other attributes characteristic of the European Right."
2 Animal Freedom: http://www.animalfreedom.org/english/reaction/volkertvandergraaf.html: "What happens to animals in factory farming is not right": accessed May 7, 2002