Hans Janmaat

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HANS Janmaat, who founded an anti-immigrant party that shocked the liberal Netherlands in its day but whose ideas recently won growing support, has died in his home town of The Hague. He was 67.

For most of his political career, beginning in the early Eighties, Janmaat was on the rightist fringe of Dutch politics. His views that the overcrowded Netherlands had no room for foreigners and that refugees should be sent back to their countries of origin were contrary to the Netherlands’ generous open-door policy.

But in the campaign for elections last month, virtually all parties supported a tightening of immigration policy, and the party Pim Fortuyn’s List, which made immigration its hallmark issue, won the second highest number of seats.

Janmaat founded the Central Democratic party in 1984, which won its first seats in parliament in 1989. Its best result was in the 1994 election, when it won three of the 150 seats. One of them was filled by Janmaat’s wife, Wil Schuurman, who lost a leg in a bomb attack by leftist radicals at a party meeting in 1986.

Janmaat left politics in 1998 after his party lost all its seats. He said a comeback was hopeless, accusing the media and the Dutch security service of working against him.

Janmaat was convicted several times on discrimination charges, most recently in 1997 for advocating an end to the Dutch multicultural society.

Pim Fortuyn, the populist politician who was killed two weeks before the 15 May elections, was often compared to Janmaat, although Fortuyn stopped short of calling for the expulsion of refugees already in the Netherlands.

Two weeks ago, Janmaat asked the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to overturn his 1997 conviction, comparing his remarks to statements by Fortuyn and by Jan Peter Balkenende, the Christian Democratic leader, who is expected to become the next prime minister.