How Dutch society lost its innocence

On 6 May 2002 the Netherlands ‘lost their political innocence’, as many commentators chose to put it. The murder of the right-wing populist politician Pim Fortuyn, who himself matched a quintessential Dutchness to a set of flamboyantly ‘un-Dutch’ characteristics, has since become an inevitable focus for a wide-ranging debate about Dutch national identity, issues of immigration and integration, and the supposed ‘islamisation’ of our culture. In the talk, I shall argue that Fortuyn’s peculiar libertarian and democratic version of populist nationalism interestingly varies and deepens our view about the nature of West-European populism, which can perhaps be most accurately described as a ‘third way of the right’.

May 11 2004