The more traveling I do, the more wise I become (gerbie) wrote,
The more traveling I do, the more wise I become

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How to explain Fortuyn to a complete outsider?

I'll do an effort. Firstly you've got to be able to understand the Netherlands; otherwise you won't get anywhere. Small country, former world power (17th century). Known throughout the world for its tolerance, its freedom. Also known as a drugs paradise, legalised prostitution and advanced euthanasia rules. First country to have gay marriages. We're not as unique as some might think. The way we treat drugs is no different from other countries around us. We are just a bit more eager to show the world we are tolerant. We're pragmatic. Everybody in the whole world knows you can't ban prostitutes. We legalise them, make them pay taxes and set medical rules.

Great political system. Every vote counts, direct representation. A few big parties have been in existence for over a century. PvdA, left wing, socialist (compare: democrats/labour/SPD). VVD, right wing, liberal (compare:lib-dem/FDP), CDA, right-center, christians, conservative (compare: tory/republican/CDU). Never has there been one party with a majority, hence a consensus is always needed. We always have a coalition. We need to discuss things, we like to do that anyway. However well a country is doing, there is always something to moan. So there is always a small party kicking against the big ones who can create a bit of fuzz. This'll last until the next election and they lose again.

Enter Fortuyn. Smart, charismatic, gay. Criticising is easy, he does it brilliantly. He lets the country know that he is available to become Prime Minister. The three major parties don't want him, he joins a small party. Then breaks with them again, after an interview in which he says some things he shouldn't have. He starts his own party. In the polls he's doing great. Soon he is the fourth party, without being a party at all. He has no helpers yet, no others who can take all the seats he's going to win. Writes a book that shows the country what went wrong in the last decade. It doesn't take a genius to point those things out. The genius bit is that it sells big time. While no parties can get their ideas to the people, he sells it to them and therefore makes a lot of cash out of it. In direct debates he's brilliant. The dusty career politicians don't stand a chance in the fast world of TV where one-liners and charisma decide who wins a debate. His star rises, in some polls he's the second party, threatening to become the biggest in the upcoming elections.

His idea's. Not really revolutionary. The country is full. The Islam is a backward religion. There's too much bureaucracy. There's too many people abusing the social system. Your basic right-wing politician. Only he knows how to hit a button with people of all classes. "Finally somebody who says what he thinks", is an argument often heard. The problem is: he says what he thinks, but doesn't offer solutions. In addition, when he does, he hasn't got the facts right or his numbers could easily be attacked as 'fuzzy maths'. So his ideas might not be brilliant or new, the way he presents them is. He is the alternative for all those non-voters and protest-voters who are fed up with the three major parties always deciding everything amongst themselves. With small parties who can only grow if they start resembling one of the big three.

The country is full. No more immigrants are welcome. Only a few political refugees can apply. Fact: economic refugees don't get in anyway. We do not accept as many refugees as people think. Only a few tenthousands every year. Peanuts. Minor problem. However, easy scoring.
Islam is a backward religion. Is that true? Aren't there more similarities than differences between Islam and Christianity?
Too much bureaucracy. Correct. But how to solve that. Just cutting out some layers middle management doesn't automatically mean things will get better. It takes time and effort to reorganise that. Possibly money as well.

Does he contradict himself? Only a couple of days before he was killed he called for a general amnesty for all illegal in the country and then a complete stop of immigration. So suddenly the solution is different from what he has been calling for ages.

A problem at the moment at some second generation guest workers. Youngsters trapped in two cultures, but instead of taking the best of both worlds, they take the worst. The intolerance and old fashioned idea's of their parents who came from small town Turkey and Morocco in the sixties (and still view the world that way!) combined with the openness and tolerance of the Netherlands. They terrorise neighbourhoods, become gangs and petty thieves. When someone asked Fortuyn if he actually had spoken to some Moroccan youngsters, he answered that he slept with them. Openly parading the fact that as a rich gay men you can buy young vulnerable streetkids.

He could have won big time in next week's elections. At least he made the other parties shiver. This is a good thing. He was quite often right in his analysis of problems. However, he hardly ever had a good solution. In the real world of politics, he would have had a major problem, where he to become a minister, Prime Minister (his dream) or just a Member of Parliament. He would have lacked a lot of knowledge, his solutions wouldn't work. He would have to compromise with others, something he wasn't very good at. In 4 years time he would have lost a lot of his fans, it doesn't take a genius to see that.

Now the elections stand. His name is still on the ballot. The risk is that he gets many sympathy votes. His party-members, assembled in a rush will have to live up to the expectation, but haven't got an ideology to fall back on. Have different backgrounds. But mainly they lack the charisma and the ideas of their leader. A recipe for disaster. Other option is that now Fortuyn is gone, his party loses a lot. This happened in January when he was kicked out of LN. This party fell from 10% to 2% in the polls after that incident. But where do all these votes go to? Nobody knows. Since the assassination on Monday the campaigns have been stopped. Nobody can tell what will happen. Nevertheless, the elections will be interesting. That's a certainty.

Pim Fortuyn was killed last monday. He was 54 years old. Tomorrow he will be buried.
Tags: dutch politics
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