Expatica news

Fortuyn’s LPF set to file for bankruptcy

12 August 2004

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch populist LPF party scored a new political first in the Netherlands Thursday when it sought to have itself declared financially bankrupt.

The movement set up by populist Pim Fortuyn before his murder in May 2002 hopes to use a bankruptcy ruling to allow it to start afresh and get its financial affairs in order.

No other Dutch political party has ever sought bankruptcy protection.

LPF parliamentary party leader Matt Herben described the move as the only way to get the party “organisationally, financially and communicatively” back on track.

“You could describe our situation now as poor but independent. This professional approach to the re-launch will usher in confidence for the future,” he said.

He said a draft for the re-organisation of the party would soon be put to the members for approval.

The LPF has eight MPs and therefore receives a government subsidy, but the rest of the party organisation relies on private backers, spokeswoman Agnes Leewis told Expatica.

Asked if the voters could trust the LPF to monitor government expenditure when the party was in financial difficulty, Leewis said: “Yes. The problems end today and the voters will continue to support the LPF in Parliament”.

Two of the party’s biggest financiers, property tycoons Ed Maas and Chris Thunnessen, have lent millions to the LPF. But this has left the party with a massive debt on its books.

One solution explored would be to have the loans declared to be gifts, but this would have cost money under the tax office’s gifts regulations.

Therefore, the LPF executive opted to seek a technical bankruptcy to sort out its finances. Maas and Thunnessen have agreed the debt will be wiped out and they will never be repaid.

The party has been struggling with organisational problems since its over-night establishment in 2001 after Fortuyn was sacked as leader of the Leefbaar Nederland (LN) party.

He was ejected from LN when he called for the total closure of the Dutch borders to immigrants and the scrapping of the anti-discrimination clause in the Dutch Constitution.

Fortuyn quickly attracted mass support for his new party, but he was gunned down in Hilversum on 6 May 2002, less than two weeks before the general election on 15 May.

The LPF won 26 seats and entered a coalition government, but without its figurehead it was hit by internal dissent. This in turn led to the collapse of the coalition and much of the LPF’s support. It won only eight seats in the election in 2003 and sits in the opposition benches.

The party’s financial backers lent the LPF millions of euros to fight the elections in 2002 and 2003, but an attempt to have the money declared a gift fell foul of the regulations.

The party has had several different executive boards in its short history, the latest one being appointed two months ago due to unhappiness with the previous one.

Former Immigration and Integration minister Hilbrand Nawijn is the parliamentary party’s representative on the executive.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news, LPF, Pim Fortuyn