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Dutch poll: Fortuyn party gaining

Fortuyn's death has provided his fledgling party with unexpected support
Fortuyn's death has provided his fledgling party with unexpected support  

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- The first opinion poll since the murder of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn show his eponymous right-wing party has gained in popularity.

The poll shows voters deserting caretaker Prime Minister Wim Kok's ruling Labour party in droves and switching to Fortuyn's three-month-old Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) party.

The poll, released on Monday, comes 48 hours before the most unpredictable Dutch election in decades.

The poll, by the NIPO research bureau for the 2Vandaag television programme, gave the LPF 18.5 percent of the vote, or 28 of parliament's 150 seats, up from 17 percent or 26 seats in its last survey on May 1.

It means the LPF is 2 percentage points behind the main opposition Christian Democrats and 2 points ahead of Labour. The poll of 3,000 people has a margin of error of 1.3 percent.

Dutch police arrest a suspect over the Fortuyn killing. CNN's Robin Oakley reports (May 7)

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Gerrit Hagelstein, associate professor of public administration at Utrecht University, said: "I think there will be a lot of votes for (LPF) but I don't think they will join the government, and if they do it would split up very soon because of differences of opinion."

Fortuyn, 54, opposed new immigration, called Islam backward, advocated "zero tolerance" of crime and lambasted a political establishment he harangued as complacent and out of touch with the public.

He had accused leaders of established parties of "demonising" him by evoking far-rightists like France's Jean-Marie Le Pen and Austria's Joerg Haider, or mentioning him in the same breath as Anne Frank, who was killed by the Nazis.

Fortuyn was shot dead last Monday in the parking lot of a broadcasting station following a radio interview.

LPF -- whose candidates include a former beauty queen, a pig farmer and a television presenter -- chose a new chairman at the weekend but will only select a new leader on Thursday, a day after the election.

New chairman Peter Langendam kept alive Fortuyn's outspoken tradition on Monday by accusing the left wing of stirring up anti-Fortuyn sentiment that helped pave the way for the murder.

"The bullet came from the left, not from the right," Langendam told evening newspaper Het Parool.

He accused politicians of weeping "crocodile tears" over Fortuyn's death.

Fortuyn's former lawyers are considering launching legal action against politicians and journalists for allegedly inciting hatred of the openly gay ex-sociology professor and columnist.

Fortuyn's suspected killer, Volkert van der Graaf, is due to appear in court this week when judges decide whether his detention can be extended by a further 30 days.


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