National party on cards if LR polls well
1 March 2006, AMSTERDAM — Leefbaar Rotterdam leader Marco Pastors has expressed regret about his over-simplified remarks in regard to immigrants at a time when "many immigrants in the city are actually developing themselves".
1 March 2006
AMSTERDAM — Leefbaar Rotterdam leader Marco Pastors has expressed regret about his over-simplified remarks in regard to immigrants at a time when "many immigrants in the city are actually developing themselves".
Speaking to the Dutch society of chief editors in The Hague on Wednesday, Pastors conceded he had insulted well-meaning immigrants, while his comments were aimed at those who "loaf off, cause nuisance, marry off their children and suppress their women".
Pastors said he had no time to nuance his comments and added "I hope you can forgive our dynamism".
The LR leader was sacked from his position as city Alderman last year after he made comments about some Muslims using their religion to excuse criminal acts.
With the local elections on 7 March, LR hopes to repeat its performance in 2002 when it won 17 seats under the leadership of Pim Fortuyn. Within two months Fortuyn was murdered.
Fortuyn's national LPF party has floundered in the intervening period while the LR is the biggest party in the coalition that runs Rotterdam. Many of its policies on law-and-order and compelling migrants to integrate have been implemented.
Recent opinion polls have indicated the LR has lost some support and that the Labour Party (PvdA) may re-emerge as the biggest party in Rotterdam.
But Pastors told the editors he will set up a new national party to uphold Fortuyn's ideas if LR wins at least 10 seats in the local elections.
"National politics has a need for something new. The old parties don't want this, so the renewal must come from outside," he said.
Pastors did not elaborate on the personalities who might join a new national party. He said, however, he regretted that Muslim critic and Independent right-wing politician Geert Wilders had excluded himself by announcing the establishment of his own party - Partij voor de Vrijheid (The Freedom Party).
Pastors said Wilders had not rung him in advance. "I read about it in the newspaper," he said.
He had clear advice for voters outside Rotterdam. "Vote for a local party or leave your vote blank. And accept that people will occasionally step on each other's toes."
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news