Christian democracy in the Netherlands
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This article gives an overview of christian democracy in the Netherlands, which is also called confessional politics, including political Catholicism and Protestantism. It is limited to Christian democratic parties with substantial support, mainly proved by having had a representation in parliament. The sign ⇒ means a reference to another party in that scheme.
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The strongest religious cleavage is between Catholicism and Protestantism. Before the 1920s Catholics were treated as second class citizens and they were strongly despised by Protestants, who combined their Dutch nationalism with fierce anti-papism. There also are strong cleavages within Protestantism, most notably between the Dutch Reformed Church (hervormd) and the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (gereformeerd). There are also cleavages within the Reformed Churches. The religious cleavages were reinforced by pillarization - self-imposed religious segregation.
Christian Democratic parties were also divided on political matters. The left-right cleavage split leftwing, centrist and rightwing strands of Christian democracy within the movement.
Before the 1880s the dominant political division in the Netherlands was between liberalism and conservatism. Orthodox strands of Protestantism were allied with the conservatives, while political Catholicism was allied with liberalism.
In 1880 the Anti Revolutionary Party was founded. It was part of the formation of a separate orthodox Protestant pillar, social group, which involved a separate church, the gereformeerde Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and a separate system of Protestant schools, including the Free University. This separate organization was based on a particular interpretation of the separation between church and state, namely sphere sovereignty. The ARP had one practical political goal: equalization of payment between public and religious schools. It had one political strategy: the anti-thesis between religious and non-religious parties, which meant that he sought to break the cooperation between liberals and Catholics and to create an alliance between Catholics and Protestants. It also advocated the extension of suffrage to all fathers of households.
The Catholics lacked a political organization, but had a solid electoral base in the predominantly Catholic south and an organization in the Catholic Church. They lacked a shared political position, but tended to favour the extension of suffrage and equal finance for Catholic schools.
In the 1880s the ARP's strategy became successful, both electorally, as it became an important political actor, and politically, as it was able to form an alliance, the coalition, with the Catholics. In 1888 this resulted in the first coalition cabinet led by Æneas Baron Mackay.
In the 1890s tensions within the Protestants began to rise, which resulted in the formation of the Christian Historical Union in 1908. Four issues divided a group led by Abraham Kuyper from a group led by Alexander de Savorin Lohmann:
- A large group of Anti-Revolutionary MPs, supporters and voters were still hervormd. They would split from the ARP.
- They also opposed the extension of suffrage, because they favoured divine sovereignty over popular sovereignty.
- Many Anti-Revolutionaries were still anti-papist and opposed the alliance with the Catholics.
- The leadership style of Abraham Kuyper, and especially the issue of party discipline was also a source of conflict.
The internal conflict weakens the support for the ARP and their alliance with the Catholics, who support a conservative government between 1894 and 1897
In the 1900s the ARP and Catholics, now organized in the federal General League returned to government. In 1901 they formed a cabinet led by Kuyper, which was backed by the CHU. In 1913 a liberal cabinet was formed which sought to address all the major political issues of the time in the constitutional change of 1917, which involved the extension of suffrage, the implementation of proportional representation and equalization of school finance. Although in opposition, the Catholics and Protestants participated in the reform talks.
The extension of suffrage proved especially favourable for the religious parties. From the 1918 election onward, one or more of those parties was always part of the government. Between 1918 and 1939 the Catholics, CHU and ARP always formed the governing coalition, sometimes joined by liberals. The policy of these cabinets was characterized by conservatism: in the social sense, by strengthening pillarization and enforcing public morality; in the economic sense, by keeping income and expenditure on the same level, which proved detrimental in the Great Depression; and in foreign policy, by adhering to armed neutrality and maintaining colonialism. These cabinets were led in turn by the Catholic Charles Ruijs de Beerenbrouck, the Anti-Revolutionary Hendrikus Colijn and the CHU politician Dirk Jan de Geer.
The extension of suffrage also gave smaller Christian Democratic parties a chance to enter Parliament. A pair of leftwing Protestant parties entered Parliament, the Christian Democratic Party and Christian Social Party, as did a pair of anti-papist orthodox religious parties, the Political Reformed Party (which is still represented in Parliament) and the Reformed Reformed State Party. In both pairs the first is the gereformeerd and the second is the hervormd variant. A Smaller leftwing Catholic party also gained representation, the Roman Catholic People's Party. In response the Catholics reformed their party to the more centralized Roman Catholic State Party.
Between 1940 and 1945 the Netherlands was occupied by Nazi Germany. Prominent Catholic and Protestant politicians were involved in resistance work, while their political leaders were in London. There a national cabinet was formed including the liberals and the socialists.
In 1945 the first cabinet was formed after the Second World War. The Queen appointed an explicitly progressive cabinet composed of the KVP and the Labour Party, a new party formed by the SDAP, the VDB, the leftwing Protestant CDU and several prominent Catholics. This started a series of Roman-Red cabinets formed by the KVP and PvdA, most of which are led by social-democrat Willem Drees. The two main coalition partners, which gained around 30% of the vote were joined by smaller parties, including the CHU and the ARP, which gained only 10% of the vote. The cabinets were progressive, implementing a broad range of reforms, including the formation of a welfare state, a mixed economy, decolonization of the Dutch Indies and the abandonment of neutrality in favour of NATO and the European Economic Community. Decolonization proved a vital issue as the ARP and prominent KVP-members opposed it. This led to a split within the KVP and the formation of the short-lived Catholic National Party in 1948. In 1948 a religious conflict within the Dutch Reformed Church also led to a split between the ARP and the Reformed Political Alliance.
In the 1960s the position of the religious parties weakened. In 1957 they swapped the PvdA for the conservative-liberal VVD. This led to internal dissent. More importantly however the religious parties were affected by the decline of pillarization. Since the mid-1960s the Christian-Democrats have lost their natural majority and need to rely on the VVD for a majority. In 1968 a group of leftwing, Labour-oriented Catholics broke away from the KVP to form the Political Party of Radicals, and in 1971 they were joined by prominent Protestants. It joined an alliance with the Labour Party and the progressive liberal D'66. This alliance was unsuccessful at gaining a majority however in the 1971 and 1972 elections and they were forced to form a tenuous coalition with the KVP and ARP.
Meanwhile, under pressure of their declining vote, the KVP, ARP and CHU formed a federation (in 1973), a common electoral list (in 1977) and a new party, the Christian Democratic Appeal (in 1981). The formation of this centre-right broad Christian democratic party led to splits: on the right flank by the anti-papist orthodox reformed (the Reformed Political Party) and on the left by radical evangelicals (the Evangelical People's Party). Between 1977 and 1994 the CDA formed the main party of government coalition, between 1977 and 1981 and 1982 and 1989 with the conservative liberals, between 1981 and 1982 and 1989 and 1994 with the social-democrats. Their prime minister, Ruud Lubbers, personified their no-nonsense policies of welfare state reform and privatization. In 1989 the two leftwing Christian parties merged with the Pacifist Socialist Party and the Communist Party of the Netherlands to form GreenLeft, a Green party without a strict Christian-democratic profile.
In 1994 the CDA suffered a decisive electoral defeat. The party lost half its vote and was confined to opposition for the first time in its history. It was also the first time since 1918 that a Christian Democratic party was not part of the government. Over the next eight years, it took this period to renew its political program. Meanwhile the orthodox Protestant RPF and the GPV merged to form the social-Christian ChristianUnion. In the 2002 elections, which were characterized by considerable insecurity, the CDA performed particularly well. CDA leader Jan Peter Balkenende served as prime minister for eight years, first heading a rightwing cabinet with the populist LPF and the conservative liberal VVD, a centrist cabinet with the VVD and the progressive liberal D'66 and since 2007 a centre-left cabinet with the Labour Party and the ChristianUnion.
The CDA was roundly defeated in the 2010 election, but managed to become junior partner in a government led by the VVD.
- 1879 The Anti Revolutionary Party is founded by Abraham Kuyper.
- 1894 The group around Alexander de Savorin Lohman left the ARP.
- 1905 The ⇒CDP split from the ARP.
- 1918 The ⇒ SGP split from the ARP.
- 1926 The ⇒ CDU is formed by several groups, including former members of the ARP.
- 1942 The ARP is forbidden by the German occupying force. Prominent members join the Dutch Resistance.
- 1948 The GPV splits from the ARP.
- 1971 Several prominent Anti Revolutionaries left the ARP for the ⇒PPR.
- 1972 The Evangelical Progressive People's Party split from the ARP, in 1981 it would form the ⇒EVP.
- 1974 The ARP joins the CDA federation together with the CHU and the KVP
- 1975 The⇒ RPF splits from the ARP.
- 1977 ARP candidates on a common list of the CDA in the 1977 elections.
- 1980 The ARP merged into the ⇒CDA.
- 1897 The Christian Historical Voters' League is formed.
- 1903 The CHK merges with the ⇒VAR to form the ⇒CHP.
- 1894 The group around Alexander de Savorin Lohman leaves the ARP.
- 1898 This group formed the Free Anti Revolutionary Party.
- 1903 The VAR merged with the ⇒CHK to form the ⇒CHP.
- 1903 The Christian Historical Party is formed by the ⇒VAR and ⇒CHK.
- 1907 The ⇒CSP splits from the CHP.
- 1908 The CHP merged with the ⇒Frisian League to form the ⇒CHU.
- 1904 The General League is formed by Catholic MPs.
- 1922 The RKVP splits from the General League.
- 1926 The General League is reformed and renamed to ⇒RKSP.
- 1905 The Christian Democratic Party (Netherlands) splits from the ⇒#ARP.
- 1925 The CDP splits, some members join the ⇒ARP, others join the Social Democratic Workers' Party, and others remain independent and form the ⇒CDU with the ⇒CDP and former members of the ⇒#BCS in 1926.
- 1907 The League of Christian Socialists (Dutch: Bond Christen Socialisten; BCS) is founded.
- 1918 The BCS form a common parliamentary party with SDP and SP.
- 1919 The BCS splits, some members leave to join the Communist Party of the Netherlands, others join the Social Democratic Workers' Party and others remain independent and form the ⇒CDU with the ⇒CSP and former members of the ⇒CDP in 1926.
- 1907 The Christian Social Party splits from the ⇒CHP.
- 1926 The CSP joins former members of the ⇒BCS and the ⇒CDP to form the ⇒CDU.
- 1908 The Christian Historical Union is formed by the ⇒Frisian League and the ⇒CHP.
- 1921 The ⇒HGS splits from the CHU.
- 1942 The CHU is forbidden by the German occupying force.
- 1946 The Labour Party is founded several prominent CHU-members join the newly founded party.
- 1974 The CHU joins the CDA federation together with the ARP and the KVP
- 1977 CHU candidates on a common list of the CDA in the 1977 elections.
- 1980 The CHU merged into the ⇒CDA.
- 1918 The Political Reformed Party split from the ⇒ARP
- 1942 The SGP is forbidden by the German occupying force.
- 1945 The SGP is refounded after the Second World War.
- 1921 The Reformed Reformed State Party split from the ⇒CHU
- 1942 The HGS is forbidden by the German occupying force.
- 1922 The Roman Catholic People's Party split from the General League.
- 1933 The RKVP merges with the Catholic Democratic League to form the Catholic Democratic Party.
- 1937 The Catholic Democratic Party merges into the RKSP.
- 1926 The Christian Democratic Union is formed by the ⇒CSP and former members of the ⇒ARP and the ⇒BCS and ⇒CDP.
- 1942 The CDU is forbidden by the German occupying force.
- 1946 The CHU joins the Social Democratic Workers' Party and the Freethinking Democratic League to form the Labour Party.
- 1926 The ⇒General League is reformed and renamed to Roman Catholic State Party.
- 1937 The Katholic Democratic Party merges into the RKSP.
- 1942 The RKSP is forbidden by the German occupying force.
- 1945 The RKSP is reformed and renamed to ⇒KVP.
- 1948 The Reformed Political Alliance splits from the ⇒ARP.
- 2001 The GPV merges with the ⇒RPF to form the ⇒CU.
- 1975 The Reformatory Political Federation splits from the ARP.
- 2001 The RPF merges with the ⇒GPV to form the ⇒CU.
- 1981 The Evangelical People's Party is formed by members of the Evangelical Progressive People's Party, which previously split from the ⇒ARP and members of the ⇒CDA, who also had a background in the ARP.
- 1989 The EVP merges with the Communist Party of the Netherlands, the Pacifist Socialist Party and the ⇒PPR to form GreenLeft.
- 1945 The ⇒RKSP is reformed and renamed to Catholic People's Party.
- 1948 The ⇒KNP splits from the KVP.
- 1955 The KNP merges into the KVP.
- 1968 The ⇒PPR splits from the KVP.
- 1974 The KVP joins the CDA federation together with the CHU and the ARP
- 1977 KVP candidates on a common list of the CDA in the 1977 elections.
- 1980 The KVP merged into the ⇒CDA.
- 1968 The Political Party of Radicals split from the ⇒KVP.
- 1971 Several prominent Anti Revolutionaries left the ⇒ARP for the PPR.
- 1971 The PPR forms an electoral alliance with the Labour Party and the Pacifist Socialist Party.
- 1972 The PPR forms an electoral alliance with the Labour Party and the Democrats 66.
- 1981 The PPR official abandons its Christian-social course and alliance with the Labour Party and becomes a leftwing-oriented green party.
- 1989 The PPR merges with the ⇒EVP, Pacifist Socialist Party and the Communist Party of the Netherlands to form GreenLeft.
- 1972 The Roman Catholic Party Netherlands is formed.
- 1977 The RKPN is dissolved.
- 1973 The Christian Democratic Appeal is formed as a federation of the ⇒KVP, the ⇒CHU and the ⇒ARP.
- 1980 The member parties dissolve themselves to form the CDA.
Christian democratic leaders
- ARP: Abraham Kuyper, Hendrikus Colijn
- CHU: Alexander de Savorin Lohman, Dirk Jan de Geer
- General League and RKSP: Herman Schaepman, Willem Hubert Nolens, Charles Ruijs de Beerenbrouck
- SGP: Rev. Gerrit Hendrik Kersten (founder), Bas van der Vlies (1986-2010), Kees van der Staaij (current)
- HGS: Rev. Casper Andries Lingbeek
- KVP: Carl Romme, Norbert Schmelzer
- PPR: Bas de Gaay Fortman
- EVP: Cathy Ubels (MP 1982-1986)
- CDA: Ruud Lubbers (1982-1994, PM), Jan Peter Balkenende (2001-2002; Prime Minister 2002-2010), Maxime Verhagen (informal leader of the CDA 2010-2012; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Economic Affairs 2010-), Jan Kees de Jager (Minister of Financial Affairs 2010- [previous State Secretary of Financial Affairs 2007-2010]),
Sybrand van Haersma Buma (Leader of the CDA 2012-)
- CU: Andre Rouvoet (2002-2007, 2010-2011; Deputy Prime Minister 2007-2010), Arie Slob (2007-2010, 2011-)
- History of the Netherlands
- Politics of the Netherlands
- List of political parties in the Netherlands
- Liberalism in the Netherlands
- Socialism in the Netherlands