A Political Assassination and a Crisis of Legitimacy: The Murder of Pim Fortuyn

  • Arjen BoinEmail author
  • Sanneke Kuipers
  • Tim de Jongh
Part of the New Security Challenges book series (NSECH)


The murder of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002 shocked the nation. Fortuyn had challenged the political order by winning the local elections in Rotterdam. He was poised to win the national elections, which were to be held just weeks after his death. Fortuyn sought to represent the ‘forgotten men and women’. The reaction to his assassination was ferocious: the parliament was nearly stormed and the legitimacy of the incumbent order rapidly declined. This chapter analyses the effort of national politicians to manage this legitimacy crisis.


  1. Andeweg, R.B., and G.A. Irwin. 2009. Governance and Politics in the Netherlands. Hampshire, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  2. Baumgartner, F.R., and B.D. Jones. 1993. Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  3. Black, I. 2002a. Activist in Court Over Fortuyn’s Murder. The Guardian, May 2. Retrieved from
  4. Black, I. 2002b. Dutch Mourners Turn Out in Force to Salute Fortuyn. The Guardian, May 11. Retrieved from
  5. Black, I. 2002c. Far Right Comes in Second in Dutch Poll. The Guardian, May 16. Retrieved from
  6. Boin, A., and P. ’t Hart. 2000. Institutional Crises and Reforms in Policy Sectors. In Government Institutions: Effects, Changes and Normative Foundations, ed. H. Wagenaar. Boston: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boin, A., P. ’t Hart, and E. van der Torre. 2003. Blauwe Bazen: Het Leiderschap van Korpschefs. Zeist: Kerckebosch.Google Scholar
  8. Boin, A., A. McConnell, and P. ’t Hart (eds.). 2008. Governing after Crisis: The Politics of Investigation, Accountability and Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Boin, A., P. ’t Hart, E. Stern, and B. Sundelius. 2016. The Politics of Crisis Management: Public Leadership Under Pressure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Boin, A., C. Kofman, J. Kuilman, S. Kuipers, and A. van Witteloostuijn. 2017. Does Organizational Adaptation Really Matter? How Mission Change Affects the Survival of U.S. Federal Independent Agencies, 1933–2011. Governance 30 (4): 663–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boin, A., C. Brown, and J. Richardson. 2019. Managing a Mega-Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Bovens, M.A., P. ’t Hart, S. Dekker, G. Verheuvel, and E. De Vries. 1998. The IRT Disaster and the Crisis in Crime-Fighting in the Netherlands. In Public Policy Disasters in Western Europe, ed. P. Gray and P. ’t Hart. London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  13. Brouwer, A. 2002. De Dreiging van de Straat: Het Volksoproer dat niet kwam. De Groene Amsterdammer, December 22. Retrieved from
  14. Buruma, I. 2002. What Pim and Diana Had in Common. The Guardian, May 14. Retrieved from
  15. Catino, M. 2013. Organizational Myopia: Problems of Rationality and Foresight in Organizations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Commissie Feitenonderzoek. 2002. De Veiligheid en de Beveiliging van Pim Fortuyn: Feiten en Verantwoordelijkheden. The Hague: Sdu Uitg.Google Scholar
  17. de Vries, J., and S. Van der Lubben. 2005. Een Onderbroken Evenwicht in de Nederlandse Politiek. Amsterdam: Van Gennep.Google Scholar
  18. Freedland, J. 2002. Watch and Tremble: The Fallout from the Assassination of Pim Fortuyn Will Be Felt Not Just in Holland But Right Across the World. The Guardian, May 8. Retrieved from
  19. Hansèn, D., and E. Stern. 2001. From Crisis to Trauma: The Palme Assassination Case. In Managing Crises: Threats, Dilemmas, Opportunities, ed. U. Rosenthal, A. Boin, and K.L. Comfort. Springfield: Charles C Thomas Publisher.Google Scholar
  20. Kuper, S. 2002. Grieving Dutch Set to Give Power to Fortuyn’s Heirs. The Guardian, May 12. Retrieved from
  21. Lang, K. 2002. Pim Fortuyn—Obituary. The Guardian, May 7. Retrieved from
  22. Lijphart, A. 1968. Verzuiling, Pacificatie en Kentering in de Nederlandse Politiek. Haarlem: Becht.Google Scholar
  23. Osborn, A. 2002a. Pim the Martyr Unites a City in Grief. The Guardian, May 8. Retrieved from
  24. Osborn, A. 2002b. Dutch Authorities Ignored Threats to Pim Fortuyn. The Guardian, December 18. Retrieved from
  25. Parker, C.F., and E.K. Stern. 2002. Blindsided? September 11 and the Origins of Strategic Suprise. Political Psychology 23 (3): 601–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Preston, T., and P. ’t Hart. 1999. Understanding and Evaluating Bureaucratic Politics: The Nexus Between Political Leaders and Advisory. Political Psychology 20 (1): 49–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rosenthal, U., P. ’t Hart, and A. Kouzmin. 1991. The Bureau-Politics of Crisis Management. Public Administration 69 (20): 211–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Taleb, N.N. 2007. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  29. The 9/11 Commission Report. 2002. Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  30. Turner, B.A. 1978. Man-Made Disasters. London: Wykeham.Google Scholar
  31. Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal. 2002, 19 December. Debat op hoofdlijnen over het rapport-Van den Haak inzake de veiligheid en de beveiliging van de heer Pim Fortuyn (28374, nrs. 12 en 13) en het regeringsstandpunt n.a.v. dit rapport, 36th meeting, pp. 2721–2743.Google Scholar
  32. Verlaan, J., and H. Van den Berg. 2003. Ministers weer onbewaakt op Binnenhof. NRC Handelsblad, May 6.Google Scholar
  33. Vertzberger, Y. 1990. The World in Their Minds: Information Processing, Cognition, and Perception in Foreign Policy Decision-Making. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Weick, K.E., and K.M. Sutcliffe. 2007. Managing the Unexpected: Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty. San Fransisco: Wiley.Google Scholar
  35. Wilson, J. 1989. Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Institutions and Governance, Institute of Political ScienceLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Institute of Security and Global AffairsLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Independent ResearcherLeidenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations