Christian Democratic Appeal: Wikis


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Christian Democratic Appeal
Christen Democratisch Appèl
Leader Jan Peter Balkenende
(Prime Minister)
Chairperson Peter van Heeswijk
Chair of the First Chamber Parliamentary Party Jos Werner
Chair of the Second Chamber Parliamentary Party Pieter van Geel
Chair of the European Parliament Delegation Maria Martens
Founded 11 October 1980
Merger of KVP, ARP, and CHU
Headquarters Partijbureau CDA
Buitenom 18 Den Haag
Youth wing CDJA
Thinktank Wetenschappelijk bureau CDA
Ideology Christian democracy
Political position Centre-right[1]
International affiliation Centrist Democrat International
European affiliation European People's Party
European Parliament Group European People's Party
Official colours Green
Seats in the First Chamber
Seats in the Second Chamber
Seats in the European Parliament
Politics of the Netherlands
Political parties

The Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) (Dutch: Christen Democratisch Appèl) is a center-right Dutch Christian democratic political party. The party is currently the biggest coalition partner in the fourth Balkenende cabinet.



History before 1977


This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the Netherlands

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Since 1880 the sizeable Catholic and Protestant parties had worked together in the so-called coalition. They shared a common interest in public funding of religious schools. In 1888 they formed the first Christian-Democratic government, led by the Anti-Revolutionary Æneas Baron Mackay. The cooperation was not without problems and in 1894 the conservative, anti-papists left the Protestant Anti Revolutionary Party, to found the Christian Historical Union. The main issues dividing Protestants and Catholics was the position of the Dutch Representation at the Holy See and the future of the Dutch Indies. Since 1918 the three parties had a majority in both houses of States-General, and at least two of three parties were represented in the cabinet. This majority lasted until 1967. After the war the three Christian-Democratic parties were the Catholic People's Party (KVP), the Protestant Anti Revolutionary Party (ARP), and the Protestant Christian Historical Union (CHU).

In the sixties, the Dutch society became more secularized and the pillars faded, and voters began to move away from the three Christian-Democratic parties. In 1963 the three parties held 51% of the vote, whilst in 1972 they held only 32%. This decline forced the three parties to work closer together. In 1967 the Group of Eighteen was formed: it was a think-tank of six prominent politicians per party that planned the future cooperation of the three parties. In 1968 the three political leaders of the parties (Norbert Schmelzer (KVP), Barend Biesheuvel (ARP) and Jur Mellema (CHU) made a public appearance, stating that the three parties would continue to work together. This caused progressive forces within the three parties, especially the ARP and KVP to regret their political affiliation. In 1968 they founded the Political Party of Radicals, a leftwing party that sought cooperation with the social-democratic Labour Party (PvdA). Locally and provincially however the three parties had long cooperated well, in some areas they formed one Christian-Democratic parliamentary party and proposed one list of candidates. In 1971 the three parties presented a common political program, which lay the foundation for the Biesheuvel cabinets.

After the disastrous elections of 1972 the cooperation was given new momentum. Piet Steenkamp, a member of the House of Representatives for the KVP was appointed chairman of a council which was to lay the foundation for a federation of the three parties, and provide a common manifesto of principles. In 1973 this federation was officially formed, with Steenkamp as chairperson. The cooperation was frustrated by the formation of the cabinet Den Uyl, established by the leader of the social-democratic PvdA and Prime Minister of the Netherlands Joop den Uyl. Den Uyl refused to allow members of the CHU in the cabinet that he would lead. This led to a situation where the CHU, ARP and KVP formed a federation and had one parliamentary party in both houses of parliament, but only the KVP and ARP supplied ministers and junior ministers. The cabinet Den Uyl was riddled with political and personal conflicts. Another issue that split the three parties was the place the Bible would take in the new party.


In 1977 the parties presented a common list at the parliamentary elections. The KVP minister of Justice, Dries van Agt, was the top candidate. In the election campaign he made clear the CDA was a centrist party, that would not lean to the left or to the right. The three parties were able to stabilize their proportion of the vote. The election result forced Van Agt to start talks with Den Uyl. The animosity between Van Agt, who had been vice-prime-minister in the cabinet Den Uyl, and Den Uyl, frustrated the talks. After more than 300 days of negotiations, they finally officially failed, and Van Agt was able to negotiate a cabinet with the conservative liberal VVD. The Cabinet Van Agt-I had a very narrow majority. The unexpected cabinet with the VVD led to split within the newly founded CDA between more progressive and more conservative members. The progressives remained within the party, and were known as loyalists. On October 11, 1980, the three original parties ceased to exist and the CDA was founded as a unitary party. After the elections of 1981, the VVD and the CDA had lost their majority, and the CDA was forced to cooperate with the PvdA. Van Agt became prime-minister and Den Uyl became vice-prime-minister. The cabinet was troubled by ideological and personal conflicts, and fell after one year.

After the 1982 elections, a CDA/VVD cabinet was supported by a majority in parliament. The new CDA leader, Ruud Lubbers, set an ambitious reform program in motion, which included budget cuts, reform of the old age and disability pensions and liberalization of public services. Lubbers won the 1986 and 1989 elections, and he was not only supported by Christians, but also by non-religious people. In 1989 however, although the CDA had won the elections, they were unable to get a majority with their coalition partner, the VVD. The CDA was forced to cooperate with the PvdA. In the third cabinet Lubbers, the ambitious reform project was continued, with some adaptations and protests from the PvdA.


The 1994 elections were fraught with problems for the CDA: personal conflicts between prime-minister Lubbers and Lijsttrekker Eelco Brinkman, a lack of support for the reforms of old age and disability pensions, and the perceived arrogance of the CDA caused a dramatic defeat at the polls. A new government was formed without any Christian-democratic ministers for the first time since 1918. The CDA was confined to the opposition. The party was marred by subsequent internal battles over leadership. The party also reflected on its principals: the party began to orient itself more toward communitarian ideals.

During the tumultuous 2002 elections, which saw the murder of Pim Fortuyn, many people voted for the CDA, hoping that this party could bring some stability to Dutch politics. The CDA led the Balkenende coalition, which included the VVD and the LPF. This cabinet fell due to internal struggles within the LPF. After the 2003 elections, the Christian Democrats were forced to begin cabinet negotiations with the PvdA. Personal animosity between Balkenende and the leader of the PvdA, Bos, frustrated these negotiations. Balkenende eventually formed a coalition with the conservative and progressive liberals. The coalition proposed an ambitious program of reforms, including more restrictive immigration laws, democratization of political institutions and reforms of the system of social security and labour laws.

After the 2006 elections the CDA changed their course radically: they formed a new cabinet still led by Balkenende, but now with the social-democratic PvdA and the social-Christian ChristianUnion. The cabinet's policy currently is more progressive, entailing increased government spending funded by higher taxes.[2]

Ideology and issues

The CDA is a Christian-democratic party, but the Bible is only seen as a source of inspiration for individual members of parliament. The party also has Jewish, Muslim and Hindu members of parliament, and it favors the integration of minorities into Dutch culture.

The party has four main ideals: shared responsibility, stewardship, justice and solidarity. Shared responsibility refers to the way society should be organized: not one organization should control all society, instead the state, the market, and social institutions, like churches and unions should work together. This is called sphere sovereignty, a core concept of Protestant political philosophy. Furthermore, this refers to the way the state should be organized. Not one level of the state should have total control, instead responsibility should be shared between local, provincial, national and European government. This is called subsidiarity in Catholic political thought. With stewardship the Christian-democrats refer to the way we should treat our planet: the Earth is a gift from God. Therefore we should try to preserve our environment.

Practically, this means the CDA is a centrist party, with conservative leanings.

  • The state deficit should be repaid in one generation, to cope with the effects of the aging population.
  • The toleration of soft drugs should come to an end, furthermore the practices of prostitution, abortion and euthanasia should be more limited.
  • The party is a staunch proponent of European integration and Turkey's possible EU membership in the future.
  • The party wants to make schools and hospitals more responsible for their own policy, instead of being regulated by the government.


Prime Ministers


Chairperson of the parliamentary party in the House of Representatives:

2007–present Pieter van Geel
2002–2007 drs. M.J.M. (Maxime) Verhagen
2001–2002 mr.dr. J.P. (Jan Peter) Balkenende
1997–2001 mr. J.G. (Jaap) de Hoop Scheffer
1994–1997 drs. E. (Enneus) Heerma
1989–1994 mr.dr. L.C. (Elco) Brinkman
1982–1989 dr. B. (Bert) De Vries
1978–1982 drs. R.F.M. (Ruud) Lubbers
1977–1978 mr. W. (Willem) Aantjes


2006 mr.dr. J.P. (Jan Peter) Balkenende
2003 mr.dr. J.P. (Jan Peter) Balkenende
2002 mr.dr. J.P. (Jan Peter) Balkenende
1998 mr. J.G. (Jaap) De Hoop-Scheffer
1994 mr.dr. L.C. (Elco) Brinkman
1989 drs. R.F.M. (Ruud) Lubbers
1986 drs. R.F.M. (Ruud) Lubbers
1982 mr. A.A.M. (Dries) Van Agt
1981 mr. A.A.M. (Dries) Van Agt
1977 mr. A.A.M. (Dries) Van Agt

Members of the House of Representatives

2006 – 41
2003 – 44
2002 – 43
1998 – 29
1994 – 34
1989 – 54
1986 – 54
1982 – 45
1981 – 44
1977 – 48
1972 – 49 (KVP 27, ARP 14, CHU 7)
1971 – 58 (KVP 35, ARP 13, CHU 10)
1967 – 70 (KVP 43, ARP 15, CHU 12)
1963 – 76 (KVP 50, ARP 13, CHU 13)
1959 – 75 (KVP 49, ARP 14, CHU 12)
1956 – 77 (KVP 49, ARP 15, CHU 13)

Members of the Senate

2007 – 21
2003 – 23
1999 – 20
1995 – 19
1991 – 27
1987 – 26
1983 – 26
1979 – 27
1975 – 24

Members of the European Parliament

2009 – 5
2004 – 7
1999 – 9
1994 – 10
1989 – 10
1984 – 8
1979 – 10

Local and provincial government

By far, the CDA has the most members of municipal and provincial councils in the Netherlands. Furthermore, it cooperates in most municipal and provincial governments. 135 out of the 414 Dutch mayors are members of the CDA.


The CDA is mainly supported by religious voters, both Catholics and Protestants. These tend to live in rural areas and tend to be elderly. In some periods, however, the CDA has functioned as a centre party, attracting people from all classes and religions.

Geographically, the CDA is particularly strong in the provinces of North Brabant, Limburg and Overijssel and in the Veluwe and the Westland areas. In the 2006 elections the CDA received the highest percentage of votes in the municipality of Tubbergen, Overijssel (66,59% of the vote). The CDA is weaker in the four major cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) and in Groningen and Drenthe.



The CDA has 69 560 members in 520 municipals branches. Its current chairperson is Peter van Heeswijk.

Linked organizations

The youth movement of the CDA is the Christian-Democratic Youth Appeal (CDJA, Christen-Democratische Jongeren Appèl ). The CDA publishes the CDA-magazine monthly, and its scientific bureau publishes the Christian Democratic Explorations (Christen-Democratische Verkenningen).

As an effect of pillarization, the CDA still has many personal and ideological ties with religious organizations, such as the broadcasting societies KRO and NCRV, the paper Trouw, the employers organizations NCW and the union CNV.

The CDA participates in the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, a democracy assistance organisation of seven Dutch political parties.

International organizations

The CDA is a member of the European People’s Party and the Centrist Democrat International

International comparison

As a large Christian-democratic party the CDA is comparable to other European Christian-democratic parties as the German CDU. It is the Netherlands' largest rightwing party, but is more centrist than the British Conservatives.


  1. ^ Score 6.1/10 in 2003 Chapel Hill expert survey, see Hooghe et al. (2003) Chapel Hill Survey
  2. ^

External links

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