Catholic People's Party

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Catholic People's Party
Katholieke Volkspartij
Leader Carl Romme 1945-1961
Wim de Kort 1961-1963
Norbert Schmelzer 1963-1971
Frans Andriessen 1971-1977
Founded 22 December 1945
Dissolved 1980
Merged into Christian Democratic Appeal
Ideology Christian democracy
International affiliation none
European affiliation European People's Party
European Parliament group Christian Democratic Group
Politics of Netherlands
Political parties
Elections

The Catholic People's Party (Dutch: Katholieke Volkspartij, KVP) was a Catholic Christian democratic political party in the Netherlands. During its entire existence, the party was in government. The party is one of the precursors of the Christian Democratic Appeal.

History[edit]

1945-1965[edit]

The KVP was founded on 22 December 1945. It was a continuation of the pre-war Roman-Catholic State Party (RKSP). Unlike the RKSP, the KVP was open to people of all denominations, but mainly Catholics supported the party. The party adopted a more progressive course and a more modern image than its predecessor.

In the elections of 1946 the party won a third of the vote, and joined the newly founded social democratic Labour Party (PvdA) to form a government coalition. This Roman/Red coalition (Roman (Rooms) for the Roman Catholic KVP, Rood, Red for the social-democratic PvdA) lasted until 1956. In the first two years the KVP's Louis Beel led the Cabinet. Beel was not the party's leader a post which was taken by Carl Romme, who led the KVP between 1946 and 1961, from the House of Representatives. After the 1948 election the PvdA became larger and supplied the prime minister Willem Drees. The PvdA and the KVP were joined by combinations of the protestant-Christian Anti Revolutionary Party (ARP) and Christian Historical Union (CHU) and the liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) to form oversized cabinets, which often held a comfortable two-thirds majority. The cabinets were oriented at rebuilding the Dutch society and economy after the ravages of the Second World War and grant independence to the Dutch colony Indonesia. That last point was caused a split within the KVP, in 1948 a small group of Catholics broke away to form the Catholic National Party (KNP): it was opposed to the decolonisation of Indonesia and to cooperation between the Catholics and social-democrats. Under pressure of the Catholic Church the two parties united again in 1955.

In the period 1958-1965 the KVP was at the height of its power. It was the leading force in all cabinets and supplied all the prime-ministers. In 1958 the Fourth cabinet of Drees fell and Louis Beel formed an interim-cabinet with KVP, ARP and CHU. After the 1959 elections the KVP formed a centre-right cabinet with ARP, CHU and VVD, led by KVP member Jan de Quay. It continued to strengthen the welfare state. After the 1963 elections this cabinet was succeeded by a new cabinet of KVP-CHU-ARP-VVD, which was led by the KVP's Victor Marijnen. This coalition oversaw an economic boom. Norbert Schmelzer became the party's new leader, again operating within the House of Representatives and not the cabinet. A cabinet crisis over the Netherlands Public Broadcasting however caused the cabinet to fall in 1965. The KVP and ARP formed a cabinet with the PvdA, led by the KVP's Jo Cals. This cabinet also fell in the Night of Schmelzer, in which Norbert Schmelzer forced a cabinet crisis over the cabinet's financial policy. This was the first fall of cabinet, which was directly broadcast on television. An interim government of KVP and ARP was formed, led by the ARP's Jelle Zijlstra.

1965-1980[edit]

Piet de Jong Prime Minister from 1967 til 1971.

The period 1965-1980 is period of decline, crisis and dissent for the KVP. The share of votes for the KVP began to decline after 1966, because of depillarisation and secularisation: There were fewer Catholics and Catholics no longer supported a Catholic party.

In the 1967 elections the KVP lost 15% of its votes and 8 seats. During the election campaign the KVP, ARP and CHU declared that they wanted to continue cooperating with each other. Cooperation with the PvdA was much less important. This led to unrest under young and left wing KVP supporters, including Ruud Lubbers, Jo Cals, Erik Jurgens and Jacques Aarden, who called themselves Christian Radicals. After the elections this promise was upheld and the KVP formed a cabinet with its old partners, led by Piet de Jong. After much debate some of the Christian Radicals broke away from the KVP in 1968 to form the Political Party of Radicals (PPR). These include three members of parliament, who form their own parliamentary party Groep Aarden. Lubbers and Cals stayed with the KVP. The new party became a close partner of the PvdA. In the 1971 elections the KVP lost another 7 seats (18% of its vote). The KVP again joined the ARP, CHU and VVD to form a new centre-right cabinet with rightwing dissenters of the PvdA, united in DS'70. The ARP's Barend Biesheuvel led the cabinet. In 1972 the cabinet fell because of internal problems of the junior partner, DS'70.

In the subsequent elections the KVP again lost eight seats, leaving only 27, 23 less than in 1963. The cabinet again lost its majority and the KVP saw no alternative than to cooperate with the PvdA and its allies PPR and D66. An extra-parliamentary cabinet is formed by PvdA, PPR and D66 joined by prominent progressives from KVP and ARP. The KVP's ministers include the minister of Justice Dries van Agt and the minister of the Economy Ruud Lubbers. The KVP does not officially support this cabinet, which is led by social-democrat Joop den Uyl. This cabinet was characterized by infighting and fell just before the 1977 elections.

In the 1970s the KVP realized that if it wanted to continue it needed to find new ways of cooperating. Ideas to form a broad Christian-Democratic party, like the German Christian Democratic Union were brought into practice. In 1974 the three parties formed a federation, called Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA). In the 1977 elections the CDA won more seats than the KVP, ARP and CHU had together. After the elections, Dries van Agt became prime minister for the CDA. In 1980 the three parties officially dissolved themselves into the CDA.

The Catholics within the KVP still constitute a powerful group within the CDA. In the early years a system of equal representation of Catholics and Protestants was practiced, from which the KVP as only Catholic group profited. Nowadays many CDA-members, like Maxime Verhagen and Maria van der Hoeven have a background in the KVP's political Catholicism.

Name[edit]

The name Catholic People's Party (Dutch: Katholieke Volkspartij; KVP), must be seen in contrast with the name of its predecessor Roman Catholic State Party. The party no longer uses the name "Roman Catholic", but simply "Catholic", de-emphasizing its religious affiliation. It is no longer a state party, but a people's party, emphasizings its progressive, democratic nature. The new name emphasizes the KVP's progressive, democratic and non-denominational image.

Ideology and issues[edit]

The KVP was a Christian-democratic party, which based itself on the Bible and Catholic Dogma.

As such it was proponent of a mixed economy: A strong welfare state should be combined with a free market, with a corporatist organisation. Trade unions and employers' organisations were to negotiate on wages in a Social Economic Council and should make legislation for some economic sectors on themselves, without government intervention, in so called Productschappen.

The state should watch over the morality of the people: divorce should be limited, recreation should be moral (for instance different swimming hours for women and men) and the family should be preserved. Families were to be helped by fiscal policies, such as the "kinderbijslag", support by the government, by the newly set up Ministry of Culture, Recreation and Welfare, and the possibility to buy their own home.

Internationally, the KVP was a staunch proponent of European integration and cooperation with the NATO. The party sought the middle ground in the issue of decolonization: Indonesia and Suriname should be independent countries within a Dutch Commonwealth.

Representation[edit]

This table shows the results of the KVP in elections to the House of Representatives, Senate and States-Provincial, as well as the party's political leadership: the fractievoorzitter, is the chair of the parliamentary party and the lijsttrekker is the party's top candidate in the general election, these posts are normally taken by the party's leader. If the party is in government, a high ranking minister, often the prime minister can also be party leader. If the high ranking minister is the Prime Minister, this can be seen by the "PM" behind his name. If he is in the cabinet without support of his party his is listed as "independent". The party's membership is also presented in this figure.

Year HoR S SP Fractievoorzitter Lijsttrekker Cabinet Membership Partijvoorzitter
1946 32 17 188 Carl Romme multiple, including Romme Louis Beel (PM) unknown P.J. Witteman
1947 32 17 188 Carl Romme n/a Louis Beel (PM) unknown W.J. Andriessen
1948 32 17 188 Carl Romme multiple incl. Beel and Romme Josef van Schaik 409.084 W.J. Andriessen
1949 32 17 188 Carl Romme n/a Josef van Schaik 348.516 W.J. Andriessen
1950 32 17 189 Carl Romme n/a Josef van Schaik 319.419 W.J. Andriessen
1951 32 16 189 Carl Romme n/a Louis Beel 295.736 W.J. Andriessen
1952 30 17 189 Carl Romme multiple incl. Romme Louis Beel 277.663 W.J. Andriessen
1953 30 17 189 Carl Romme n/a Louis Beel 257.890 W.J. Andriessen
1954 30 17 186 Carl Romme n/a Louis Beel 269.376 H.W. van Doorn
1955 30 17 186 Carl Romme n/a Louis Beel 429.939 H.W. van Doorn
1956 49 25 186 Carl Romme Carl Romme Teun Struyken 428.599 H.W. van Doorn
1957 49 25 186 Carl Romme n/a Teun Struyken 368.196 H.W. van Doorn
1958 49 25 190 Carl Romme n/a Louis Beel (PM) 379.081 H.W. van Doorn
1959 49 26 190 Carl Romme Carl Romme Jan de Quay (PM) 374.745 H.W. van Doorn
1960 49 26 190 Carl Romme n/a Jan de Quay (PM) 385.500 H.W. van Doorn
1961 49 26 190 Wim de Kort n/a Jan de Quay (PM) 375.500 H.W. van Doorn
1962 49 26 217 Wim de Kort n/a Jan de Quay (PM) 328.000 P.J.M. Aalberse
1963 50 26 217 Norbert Schmelzer multiple incl. Wim de Kort and Klompé Victor Marijnen (PM) 312.000 P.J.M. Aalberse
1964 50 26 217 Norbert Schmelzer n/a Victor Marijnen (PM) 276.000 P.J.M. Aalberse
1965 50 26 217 Norbert Schmelzer n/a Jo Cals (PM) 259.180 P.J.M. Aalberse
1966 50 25 199 Norbert Schmelzer n/a Jan de Quay 233.134 P.J.M. Aalberse
1967 42 25 199 multiple incl. Klompé n/a Piet de Jong (PM) 156.000 P.J.M. Aalberse
1968 39+3* 25 199 Norbert Schmelzer n/a Piet de Jong (PM) 120.000 A.P.J.M.M. van der Stee
1969 39+3* 24 199 Norbert Schmelzer n/a Piet de Jong (PM) 100.000 A.P.J.M.M. van der Stee
1970 39+3* 24 173 Norbert Schmelzer n/a Piet de Jong (PM) 97.300 A.P.J.M.M. van der Stee
1971 35 22 173 Frans Andriessen Gerard Veringa Roelof Nelissen 87.136 A.P.J.M.M. van der Stee
1972 27 22 173 Frans Andriessen Frans Andriessen Dries van Agt 82.525 D. de Zeeuw
1973 27 22 173 Frans Andriessen n/a Dries van Agt 67.494 D. de Zeeuw
1974 27 16 134 Frans Andriessen n/a Dries van Agt 62.234 D. de Zeeuw
1975 27 16 134 Frans Andriessen n/a Dries van Agt 52.458 D. de Zeeuw
1976 27 16 134 Frans Andriessen n/a Dries van Agt 51.729 W.J. Vergeer

Municipal and provincial government[edit]

+KVP members in Provincial legislatures (1950)

Province Result (seats)
Groningen 2
Friesland 3
Drenthe 2
Overijssel 14
Gelderland 21
Utrecht 12
North Holland 19
South Holland 16
Zeeland 9
North Brabant 52
Limburg 39

The party was particularly strong in the southern provinces of Limburg and North Brabant, were it often held 90% of the seats in the provincial and municipal legislatures and supplied all provincial and municipal governments, provincial governors and mayors. In regions like Twente, West Friesland and Zeeuws Vlaanderen it held similar positions in municipalities, but cooperated with other parties on the provincial level.

Electorate[edit]

The KVP was supported by Catholics of all classes. Its strength was in the Catholic south of the Netherlands: Brabant and Limburg, where it often held more than 90% of vote. It was also strong in Catholic regions like Twente, West Friesland and Zeeuws Vlaanderen.

During the 1960s and 1970s the KVP lost part of its electorate to progressive parties like the PPR, the PvdA and D66.

Organization[edit]

Linked organisations[edit]

The KVP had an own youth organisation, the Catholic People's Party Youth Groups (Dutch: Katholieke Volkspartij Jongeren Groupen; KVPJG) and a scientific foundation: the Centre for Political Formation.

International organisations[edit]

In the European Parliament the KVP's members sat in the Christian Democratic group.

Pillarized organisations[edit]

The KVP had close links to many other Catholic institutions such as the Roman-Catholic Church and together they formed the Catholic pillar. These organisations included the Catholic Labour Union NKV, the Catholic Employers Organisation KNOV, the Catholic Farmers' Organisation KNBLTB, Catholic Hospitals united in the Yellow-White Cross and Catholic Schools. The Catholic Broadcasting Association KRO and the Catholic Paper De Volkskrant were the voices of the KVP.

Relationships to other parties[edit]

As a Christian party, the KVP had strong ties with the conservative-Protestant ARP and Christian Historical Union. The strong ties resulted in several cabinets in the period 1946-1977 and the formation of the Christian Democratic Appeal, in which the three parties united in 1974.

The KVP had a strong centre-left group within its ranks. These supported closer cooperation with the social-democratic PvdA. This resulted in several cabinets with the PvdA, but also splits within the party, most notably the formation of the Political Party of Radicals

International comparison[edit]

As the party of a Catholic minority in a dominantly Protestant country, the KVP is comparable to the German Centre Party, which existed before the Second World War and the Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland. Its political position and agenda are similar to other catholic Christian democratic parties in Europe, such as the Flemish Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams party and the Italian Christian Democracy.

Further reading[edit]

  • Electoral Stability and Electoral Change: The Case of Dutch Catholics by Herman Bakvis in: Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue canadienne de science politique Vol. 14, No. 3 (Sep., 1981), pp. 519–555
  • Bosmans, Jac (2004). "The Primacy of Domestic Politics: Christian Democracy in the Netherlands". In Michael Gehler; Wolfram Kaiser. Christian Democracy in Europe since 1945 (Routledge). pp. 47–58. ISBN 0-7146-5662-3. 
  • Changing Procedures and Changing Strategies in Dutch Coalition Building by Hans Daalder In: Legislative Studies Quarterly Vol. 11, No. 4 (Nov., 1986), pp. 507–531
  • Conservatism in the Netherlands by Hermann von der Dunk In: Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 13, No. 4 (Oct., 1978), pp. 741–763