Fortuyn's former party collapses
The government of Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende collapsed Wednesday, brought down by a power struggle within the anti-immigration party that has convulsed politics in the Netherlands since the assassination of the party's openly gay leader, Pim Fortuyn, shortly before the election last spring.
Balkenende told parliament that the 12-week-old coalition was unworkable and that he had decided to submit his resignation to Queen Beatrix. The resignation will likely lead to a new election within three months, making Balkenende's government the shortest-lived since World War II.
Balkenende, who spoke to the queen early on Wednesday, was likely to go through the formality of submitting his resignation letter later in the day. "I came to the conclusion that no further fruitful, long-lasting partnership is possible within the coalition," Balkenende said in a statement. "Therefore, I plan to offer the [cabinet's] resignation to the queen.''
The collapse also could mean the demise of the Pim Fortuyn's List party, or LPF, which thundered into the Dutch political scene early this year on a platform of curbing immigration and crime. Its founder, Pim Fortuyn, was murdered nine days before the May 15 election that swept his party into a second-place finish on a wave of sympathy.