Former PM: Fortuyn would have won election
27 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — Former prime minister Wim Kok is convinced that Pim Fortuyn would have won the 2002 election had he not been shot and killed nine days earlier.
27 April 2005
AMSTERDAM — Former prime minister Wim Kok is convinced that Pim Fortuyn would have won the 2002 election had he not been shot and killed nine days earlier.
"Politics was in a maelstrom, everything was adrift, irrationality had taken control of the Netherlands," he said.
The comment is included in the book 'Met Kok over veranderend Nederland' or 'With Kok on the changing Netherlands', which will be published next week.
The book's authors, historians Piet de Rooy and Henk te Velde, examine Kok's political career and the election which his ruling Labour PvdA lost so badly in May 2002.
It is the first time that Kok has spoken so openly about the swift demise of his government and the rise of Fortuyn, newspaper 'De Volkskrant' reported on Wednesday.
"I remain guessing and confused about the real reasons or causes of why so much discontent suddenly appeared," he said.
Kok said a couple of months prior to the election voters had shown "reasonable confidence" in the government.
"Looking back, I must say that we stressed for too long that the problems with ethnic minorities were primarily due to social-economic issues rather than social-cultural factors," he said.
The former PvdA leader also said the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US led to a sudden change in the Dutch political climate.
Two weeks prior to the attacks, Kok announced he was handing the party's reigns on to Ad Melkert.
Kok says in the forthcoming book that if 11 September had occurred two weeks earlier, he would not have resigned as leader at that time. This was not because he could not trust the PvdA in someone else's hands, but because he would not dare to abandon the Netherlands in such a situation, he said.
Fortuyn — riding on a wave of support for his anti-immigration policies, plans to shake-up Dutch bureaucracy and boost public safety — was shot and killed in Hilversum on 6 May 2002.
In its mourning, the nation collectively heaved a sigh of relief when it was revealed that his killer, Volkert van der Graaf — who was jailed on appeal for 18 years — was not an immigrant, but native Dutch.
Fortuyn's populist LPF party won a place in government in coalition with the Christian Democrat CDA and Liberal VVD after the election on 15 May 2002.
A defeated Melkert resigned as PvdA leader and is now working with the World Bank in Washington.
LPF infighting led to the collapse of the coalition government by the end of 2002. The party was subsequently reduced to a minor opposition role at the January 2003 elections and is still struggling to carry forth the legacy that Fortuyn prematurely bequeathed.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news