Fortuyn MPs appoint new leader, split averted

5th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

5 October 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Never far from the front pages for the wrong reasons, the populist LPF made headlines again on Tuesday as the leader of the breakaway parliamentary faction Mat Herben resigned and was replaced by MP Gerard van As.

5 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — Never far from the front pages for the wrong reasons, the populist LPF made headlines again on Tuesday as the leader of the breakaway parliamentary faction Mat Herben resigned and was replaced by MP Gerard van As.

But a threatened split in the faction was temporarily averted as Herben remained a member of the MP group and MP Hilbrand Nawijn backed away from his decision to resign. Nawijn will reassess his position in the coming period.

The faction looked set for yet another party split on Tuesday morning after Herben rejoined the LPF party proper.

Herben and the seven other MPs elected to represent the LPF in the Lower House of Parliament, Tweede Kamer, broke away from the LPF in August.

The MPs officially cut ties with the party in protest at ongoing problems within the party executive. The crisis came to a head when the public prosecutor's office launched an inquiry into possible fraud in LPF finances. The inquiry cleared the LPF of any wrongdoing.

But with the eight MPs still on the outside, Herben indicated on Monday night he would rejoin the LPF party, thinking that six other MPs would follow suit.

Nawijn then threatened to leave the party and there was also talk that MP Joost Eerdmans would join the right-wing Wilders Group, Dutch public news service NOS reported.

In a bid to avert this scenario, Herben will now take on an executive role within LPF ranks and work to restore links between the MPs and the party leadership.

If this succeeds, the party will be able to continue under the LPF name, following a ruling by a court in The Hague on Tuesday preventing MPs from calling themselves the LPF. The legal action was initiated by the party executive.

Anti-immigrant politician Pim Fortuyn established the LPF prior to his May 2002 assassination at the hands of a lone gunman in Hilversum. His convicted killer, Volkert van der Graaf, said he wanted to protest the weaker groups in society.

Galavanised in part by voter emotions, the LPF party then won a hold in the coalition government at the May 2002 election, but party infighting brought the government undone after just 87 days in office.

It was then reduced to eight seats at the January 2003 election, but internal squabbling continued and more embarrassment came when the party lost a bankruptcy application in the Rotterdam Court on 17 August.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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