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Lijst Pim Fortuyn

Lijst Pim Fortuyn (List Pim Fortuyn) is a political party in the Netherlands. Pim Fortuyn began organising the party on February 11, 2002, the day after he had been sacked as lijsttrekker (head of the list of candidates) by the Leefbaar Nederland party. The new party would have allowed him to take part in the May 15 parliamentary elections. Fortuyn was a strong debater. He was a sharp critic of the ruling government and did not avoid making personal attacks.

On March 21 the party announced its list of candidates, most of whom had no previous political background. The party's main policial issues were:

The immigration issue caused heated debates all over. Fortuyn was accused of being a far-right racist, an accusation he vehemently denied. He did not advocate deporting immigrants already in the country, nor closing all borders, though he did advocate setting an immigration quota that prohibited Muslims from entering the country. In addition, he advocated revoking the article of the Dutch constitution which prohibited discrimination.

Fortuyn was assassinated on May 6. Even though the murderer, Volkert van der Graaf, was caught immediately with the proverbial smoking gun, members of the LPF let loose a vast array of conspiracy theories for who they thought was ultimately responsible for the murder. The left wing, the "old political establishment" and the media were blamed, while claims of involvement of others in the murder abounded. The investigators of the crime were unimpressed, saying that the evidence suggested that the murderer had acted alone.

The party decided to maintain its candidacy for the elections, but delay naming a new leader until after the elections. The elections proved a great success for the LPF. They won 26 seats out of 150, in one stroke becoming the second largest party in the parliament. It is a matter of debate how many voters based their choice on political conviction and how many voted for the LPF because its leader had been murdered; many voters gave one or both reasons. Mat Herben was chosen to be the new party leader. Together with the CDA (christian democrats) and the VVD (liberals) the party formed part of the governing coalition, supplying several members of Balkenende's cabinet.

Chaos started the day the cabinet was installed. Only nine hours after Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands had sworn in the cabinet members, vice minister Philomena Bijlhout had to resign, following an event at the post-ceremony press conference. A journalist showed her a photograph of her in military uniform, in a militia of Desi Bouterse, and Bijlhout identified herself in the photo. The photograph proved that she had been a member of the militia for longer than she had previously admitted, through the period of the notorious Suriname "December murders" in 1982. Balkenende and Herben forced her to resign following this revelation. A new controversy developed after Bijlhout stated that she will not give up the unemployment benefits she can claim for two years, based on her ministerial payment. The party did not fare much better, experiencing great difficulty in finding a replacement for her in the cabinet, to the increasing impatience of the other coalition parties.

A few days later, July 26, the new minister of health, Eduard Bomhoff, was reported as wanting to sack one of his top officials, Peter van Lieshout. However top officials in the Netherlands are employed by the ministry of internal affairs and its minister Johan Remkes said he needed good grounds before sacking somebody. Lieshout was eventually transferred to another department.

Continuous bickering and scandals within the LPF party as a whole, within the LPF parliament faction, between LPF ministers and high-ranking government officials and between LPF officials and the press were almost daily news for two months. Party officials came and went. The LPF lost two seats in parliament when Winnie de Jong and Cor Eberhard left the party and started a new faction, after they accused the party of lack of internal democracy. Mat Herben was replaced by Harry Wijnschenk as parliamentary faction leader. In the few weeks that Wijnschenk presided things got out of hand even further. Herben was reinstated the day before the cabinet fell.

On October 16, after only 86 days the new government fell, not because of disagreement over political issues, but because the CDA and VVD faction leaders found the LPF to be a very unstable partner. The limit proved to be open animosity between the two LPF ministers Eduard Bomhoff (vice prime minister) and Herman Heinsbroek (soon claiming this post for himself, with support of the faction leader).

A political poll, held the day before the cabinet fell, showed that the popular support for the LPF had vanished. If new elections would be held the LPF would lose 23 of its original 26 seats in parliament, according to the poll.

Mat Herben, back in power for one day when the cabinet fell, argued on television that the LPF should choose Heinsbroek as political leader to lead the party toward the new elections that by law had to be held within 83 days, only to learn the next day that Heinsbroek publicly stated he was considering starting his own party - later registered as Lijst Nieuwe Politiek. Winnie de Jong also established her own party:

Two days after the fall of the cabinet Harry Wijnschenk, who had clearly been unable to lead the party and had unanimously been asked to resign and hand back the position to his predecessor Mat Herben, decided to leave the LPF and continue as a one men parliamentary faction.

Mat Herben led the party to the elections of January 22 2003. During the campaign, the party recuperated slightly from a low point in the polls of only two seats, and ended up with 8 seats.