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Wansink, H.A.

Wansink, H.A.

Hans Wansink, born in Utrecht, the Netherlands, in 1954. M.A. in Modern and Social Economic History from Utrecht University. Currently Editor and Political Writer for the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant in the Hague. He has published several books on education and politics.

Journalist-in-Residence (1 February 2003 – 30 June 2003)

While at NIAS, I produced the first draft of my book “Pim Fortuyn and the Normalization of the Netherlands”, to be published at the end of 2003. I present in my book some explanations of the astonishing rise of Pim Fortuyn and the ‘Leefbaar’ Movement into the Dutch political system. A day-to-day account of the political events in ‘the long year 2002’ – from August 2001, when Prime Minister Wim Kok announced his departure from politics and Pim Fortuyn presented himself as his would-be successor until the surprise Elections for Parliament on January, 22 2003 – is included in the book.

In the last two decades, Dutch society and polity have adapted to a Brussels driven process of ‘normalisation’. NATO and the European Union (featuring the common market and the Euro) narrow the scope of independent national policy-making. Holland became a province of Euro Country. The 1994 election can be seen as the manifestation of an emerging bottom-up type of normalisation. The Dutch electorate is no longer driven by class, religion or even tradition, voters now make up their minds at every election on the rational basis of policy preferences. Dutch voters were concerned with preferences to do with ‘law & order’ and with the burden of unemployed immigrants on the Dutch welfare state but these were not being addressed by mainstream political parties. Pim Fortuyn, a genius performer, columnist and charismatic TV presence, filled this gap with his ethnocentric populist programme. Dramatic incidents such as September, 11 2001, the crumbling coalition government and an astonishing lack of competence among most of his opponents, worked in Pim Fortuyn’s favour. His assassination left his party, ‘Lijst Pim Fortuyn’ (LPF), decapitated but they swept into power