Dewinter of our discontent

Filip Dewinter (left) and Pim Fortuyn

The pleasantly lukewarm performance of Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), the Belgian racist-populist political party of Filip Dewinter, in the most recent elections, prompted some analysis in the newspapers of my native Netherlands. My paper made two points that had me puzzled.
Firstly, my paper claimed that Vlaams Belang, which had been renamed after a court convicted it of being a racist organization, was not really that racist. Comparing its party programme with that of the Dutch party "Lijst Pim Fortuyn" (named after its charismatic leader, who was assassinated prior to his first elections), the paper said, revealed little difference. Maybe, I wonder, this is because the LPF is racist, too, and not because VB is moderate.
Secondly, the paper explained in detail how all established political parties in Belgium responded to the rise of VB back in the 1980s by agreeing with each other that none would enter into a coalition with these idiots. Because VB never gained an absolute majority, it was effectively doomed to be in the opposition benches forever.
In contrast, the spectacular rise of Pim Fortuyn prompted no such response in the Netherlands. On the contrary, LPF joined the government coalition, creating the most incompetent and amateurish cabinet this country has ever seen, which fell after a mere three months. My newspaper failed to pick up on that contrast.

Posted by cronopio at 01:26 PM, October 10, 2006