Political Party Analysis: Christian Democratic Appeal (Netherlands)

The second party we will cover in our analysis of Dutch politics is Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA).


Overview and History

Christian Democratic Appeal is a center to center-right Christian Democratic party (ideologically) that has participated in all but three governments since its foundation in 1977.  It was founded as a merger of the Catholic People’s Party, which served in every government since 1918, and two smaller parties (the Anti-Revolutionary Party and the Christian Historical Union).  Despite their (and their predecessors’) success in making it into the government, they are experiencing their worst electoral period since their founding, losing seats for three elections in a row (a total of 31 lost seats).  They have frequently worked with both the Labour Party and the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) when forming governments.  In 2012 they shifted from a mainly center-right platform to a “radical centrist” platform that we will discuss more in the policy section below.

CDA Party Leader Sybrand van Haersma Buma will be hoping his party rebounds after its worst election in party history.  (Photo from Fryslan Kiest)
 Recent Electoral History and Political Power

National Party Strength Ranking: 2nd

The CDA is the second strongest party in the Netherlands heading into the election on March 15th.  Details on their control in specific areas are below.

Prime Minister: The party’s last Prime Minister was Jan Peter Balkenende, who served from 2002 to 2010.

House of Representatives: In 2012 the party received 8.5% of the vote and 13 out of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives.  It finished in 5th place, its lowest placing ever.  The election followed the dissolution of the coalition between the VVD, CDA, and Party for Freedom (PVV).  It was only the third time since the foundation of the party that they were not part of the government.

Senate: The CDA won 12 out of the 75 seats in the Senate in the 2015 Senate Election, finishing in 2nd place.  Members are selected by the states, showing the CDA’s continued strength at the state level despite the poor national results in 2012.  It also shows that the party may be recovering from their downturn.

European Parliament: The CDA is a member of the European People’s Party parliamentary group in the European Parliament.  In the 2014 European Parliament elections, they finished in 2nd place, behind Democrats 66, with 15% of the vote, earning 5 out of the 26 seats allocated to the Netherlands (they gained an extra seat due to associations with an Orthodox Christian list within the country, as their 2nd place result only earned 4 seats on its own).  It was a disappointing result for the party, despite their 2nd place finish, since they dropped 4.8% from the previous European elections, but they did not lose any seats.

State Parliaments: The CDA holds 89 out of 570 seats throughout the state parliaments following the 2015 Regional Elections, which makes them the strongest party (tied with VVD) throughout the states.  They also gained 3 seats in the election, which, though a small number, is another positive sign for a comeback.  They also hold the most seats (or are tied for the most seats) in 5 out of 12 states.

Projections for 2017 Election

The CDA is expected to stop the bleeding in the upcoming election, as they are projected to receive between 13 and 17 seats (between 9% and 12% of the vote) according to opinion polling.  Since they currently hold 13 seats, they could break even, have slight gains, or (unlikely) lose a few seats if polls turn against them in the months ahead of the election.  This is not the resurgence that the party has been hoping for, but at least they most likely will not be losing more seats and have the potential to finish in 3rd, 4th or (stay in) 5th place.  As we talked about in our general preview of the election, the CDA is likely to be involved in whatever coalition is the result of the election.  The VVD will most likely need the CDA’s seats to reach a majority, but the other members of the coalition could be variable, depending on the exact result of the election.  Still, even with that variability, almost every possible coalition includes the CDA, meaning that the party will probably return to government once again.

(March 9th Update): The CDA has risen in polls recently and is now expected to receive between 16 and 21 seats.

Economic and Fiscal Policy

The CDA combines market and mixed economic ideas in their platform.  While they advocate for reduced regulations on both companies and entrepreneurs, they also support price-controls for the agricultural sector.  They also call for an expansion of welfare for the disabled and a basic grant for undergrad students.  Their policies towards healthcare include abolishing profits for insurance providers and hospitals as well as expanding the basic level of care required in a plan.  For taxation, they support a “social” flat tax, which is a flat tax with a “solidarity fee” on the rich, “green” taxes, and a reduction in company and entrepreneur taxes.  They also call for a balanced budget to eventually decrease the debt and increased military spending (in order to reach NATO required minimums).

Liberty Rating*: C

Social and Foreign Policy

For social policy, the party is much more center-right to right-wing.  They oppose all drugs (even the smoking of tobacco) and call for the closure of all marijuana “coffee shops”.  For euthanasia they take a more moderate stance, advocating for the status-quo limited access policy.  When it comes to immigration they do support accepting refugees and immigrants but believe “integration is not optional”; immigrants must learn the language, integrate into the workforce, and accept Dutch culture.  That being said, they are still advocates for freedom of religion and are very anti-discrimination, including the banning of “hate speech”.  On abortion they hold a soft pro-life policy**.  They also call for the banning of “anti-democratic organizations” and mandatory military service for all young citizens.  For foreign policy, they advocate increased integration into the European Union.

Liberty Rating*:  D

Political Spectrum***


Based on our liberty ratings for the CDA’s economic and social policy, they are a socially conservative and economically centrist Christian Democratic party.  The CDA holds both economically liberal and interventionist policies, causing the it to fall slightly inside the “Right” instead of the “Authoritarian” sector.  Socially, they fall just outside of the “Moderate” sector and into the “Right” sector due to their zero-tolerance stance on drugs, restrictive immigration policies, and calls for mandatory military service.

Read our analysis of other Dutch Political Parties:

*Disclaimer: The policy positions in this article have been evaluated using Wikipedia, the party’s own website, and various articles concerning Dutch politics.  We attempt to rate the parties based on all information that is available, but due to language barriers, lack of information, or simple mistake we may have missed something.  If you feel our liberty ratings or general evaluations are incorrect, please let us know on our contact page or nicely in the comments and we’ll try to fix it.  If you have questions on how these ratings are created, feel free to ask as well.

**Abortion is a topic that is split among the liberty movement, but it is the opinion of this site that it is anti-liberty, and we take that into consideration in our evaluation of parties.  This is a position that we are not looking to debate on this site but that is part of our methodology.

***This spectrum shows economic liberty on the right axis and social liberty on the left axis, so 100 on both axis is “pure” libertarianism and 0 on both axis is pure authoritarianism for example.

Author: Brendan Noble

I am a political consultant, data-analyst, Hillsdale College economics alumnus, and conservative-libertarian. Twitter: @Brendan_Noble

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