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Fortuyn Declared Greatest Dutchman, Counting Disputes

Flamboyant Fortuyn received 31.000 votes less than William of Orange 

By Wafa Bubnad, IOL Correspondent

THE HAGUE, November 21 ( – Late anti-Islam and –immigrants flamboyant politician Pim Fortuyn was declared the greatest Dutchman of all times in a recent nationwide survey, though organizers admitted the overall counting proved otherwise.

The announced results suggested that of 300,000 people who picked their favorite by phone, Fortuyn came ahead of legends like William of Orange, the founder of the Netherlands who helped keep the country out of French hands in the late 17th century.

They also indicated that Willem Drees, prime minister from 1948 to 1958, came third followed by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) and Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), two of the greatest painters in Europe’s art history.

However, the site of the TV program which broadcasted the poll said that because of technical problems not all the votes came in before the end of the program.

After the program the remaining votes were counted and it turned out that William of Orange received 161.000 votes while Fortuyn received 130.000.

However, the program called "The Greatest Dutchman/woman of all Time" decided to officially stick to the first outcome because it had been agreed that only the votes received during the program would be counted.

They did decide to add an article to their Web site to clarify what happened.

“Man of One Moment”

Fortuyn, 54, was shot dead by an animal rights activist in May 2002 just a few days before general election.

An openly gay and former sociology professor, he formed Leefbaar Fortuyn party, which began as a fledgling group but captured significant support in recent local elections.

His party, however, triggered widespread protests for saying that Dutch borders should be closed to immigrants.

T Vilda, a Dutch political analyst, said Fortuyn’s influence is short-lived, calling him a “man of one moment”.

“He is the man of such critical moments experienced nowadays by Dutch society as the people saw Fortuyn as the only one who could save them from what they term the threat of Islamic extremism,” he told

He continued: “It really nags me that the Dutch have chosen Fortuyn, who practiced politics for only six months and gained notoriety for his anti-Islam stands, as their best favorite ever.

“Peoples around the world choose the really greatest figures, who left their indelible marks on history like British prime minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965) and German chancellor Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967).”

Vilda said the polled sample could have been influenced by the recent killing of controversial filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who directed the derogatory documentary on Islam Submission.

The Dutch Muslim community swiftly condemned on November 2, the killing of van Gogh, who was shot and stabbed to death while cycling on an Amsterdam street.

Van Gogh made his film with a controversial politician of Somali descent, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is a vocal critic of women's treatment in Islamic countries.

A series of Muslim sites and mosques have come under racist attacks that are possibly linked to the murder.

The Arab European League (AEL), a rights group that has offices in Belgium and the Netherlands, expressed Saturday, November 20, concerns about the eruption of a new wave of Islamophobia and xenophobia in both countries.

“Islamophobia is also a form of anti-Semitism and on that level it is now clear that some European countries didn’t learn their lesson of history,” it said in a statement on its Web site.

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