Fortuyn's death 'a blow to democracy'
Prime Minister Wim Kok this afternoon delivered the following In Memorial speech in the Upper House of Parliament for Dr W.S.P. (Pim) Fortuyn.
The Dutch people have reacted with shock and dismay to the murder of Mr Fortuyn. His violent death leaves no-one unmoved.
Prime Minister Wim Kok
His death is also deeply tragic for those who share his political beliefs. They have seen an inspiring and striking figure torn from their midst.
His political party in Rotterdam city council has lost its leader. Following earlier contacts yesterday, a delegation from the Cabinet this morning held intensive discussions with representatives of Pim Fortuyn's national political movement, Lijst Pim Fortuyn. It is very important that we take serious account of their feelings in determining what our course of action should now be.
Mr Fortuyn's death is also an enormous blow to our democratic system.
Political oppositions are an essential characteristic of every democracy. Debate is an inherent part of those oppositions, and debate was something in which Mr Fortuyn engaged with great vigour. That debate can sometimes be very intense; but it is always, always conducted with respect for each other and each other's views. The freedom to express those views, whatever they may be, is a precious commodity. Differences of opinion are settled with words, not with violence.
What happened early yesterday evening in Hilversum defies all description. It goes against everything that we hold precious and must continue to hold precious.
The public and politicians of the Netherlands are wrestling with feelings of anger and dismay in equal measure. The Cabinet has deliberated intensively on the wisest course of action under these circumstances. I have just announced the decision of the Cabinet that the parliamentary elections should go ahead on 15 May as planned.
The feelings of the various political parties in our country, including those of Pim Fortuyn's own Lijst Pim Fortuyn, were explicitly taken into account in reaching this decision. One thing is certain: democracy and the memory of Mr Fortuyn are best served by allowing democracy to take its full course.
The suspected perpetrator of this terrible crime was arrested yesterday. The police and Ministry of Justice officials are conducting an investigation which will cover every detail of the events. The Dutch people have a right to be kept informed as fully as possible of the progress of this investigation. Ultimately it will be up to the courts to punish this cowardly deed.
A heavy shadow fell across the Netherlands yesterday. This has released strong emotions. A dignified reaction from the Dutch people will be the best way of paying tribute to Mr Fortuyn's memory, a view endorsed by his political followers.
We share the sorrow and grief of the many people who were and are close to him.
7 May 2002
[Copyright Expatica 2002]
Subject: Dutch news