Christian-Democratic Appèl

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Christian-Democratic Appèl
CDA logo.svg
Party leader ...
Party leader Rutger Ploum
Group Chairman, Second Chamber Pieter Heerma
Chairman of the First Chamber Ben Knapen
EP Head of Delegation Esther de Lange
founding October 11, 1980
Alignment Christian Democracy
Colours) green
Sit in the First Chamber
Sit in the second chamber
Seats in the European Parliament
Number of members 39,187
Christian Democratic International (CDI)
European party European People's Party (EPP)
EP Group European People's Party (EPP)

The Christen-Democratisch Appèl ( CDA , pronounced [krɪstə (n) demokratis ɑpəl] , German  Christian-Democratic Appeal ; actually “the CDA” because of the Dutch gender of het Appèl ) is a Christian Democratic party in the Netherlands . Since 1967 efforts had been made to intensify cooperation between three denominational parties. In the parliamentary elections in 1977, a CDA list appeared for the first time. The CDA was formally founded on October 11, 1980.

Since 1977, the center-right party with Dries van Agt (1977–1982), Ruud Lubbers (1982–1994) and Jan Peter Balkenende (2002–2010) has led the Dutch government for the longest time. She suffered a heavy electoral defeat in 2010 and fell from first to fourth place with 13.6 percent. Nevertheless, she joined the minority government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte (right-wing liberal VVD ), tolerated by the right-wing populist PVV party, as a junior partner . After the coalition broke up in April 2012, the CDA again lost its approval in the early parliamentary elections in September 2012 with a decline of 5.1 percentage points and fell to an all-time low. In the parliamentary elections in 2017, the CDA recovered somewhat and moved into the Tweede Kamer with 12.38% or 19 seats. Together with Prime Minister Mark Rutte's VVD , D66 and the ChristenUnie , the CDA has since formed the governing coalition. With Hugo de Jonge he also provides the Deputy Prime Minister.


Merger and time of Van Agt and Lubbers

Piet Bukman, founding chairman 1980

The CDA emerged from the merger of two Protestant and one Catholic parties, which were originally the country's three major Christian parties. These classic governing parties often formed a joint coalition and, since 1918, usually provided the prime minister. This was about:

  • the Anti-Revolutionaire Partij ( Anti-Revolutionary Party , ARP) of 1879, it represented the strictly religious Calvinists and had a more democratic-popular character; it arose out of the view that Calvinism in its pure form could no longer shape the whole country, but should be cultivated in its own subculture;
  • the Christelijk-Historische Unie ( Christlich-Historische Union , CHU) of 1908 was religiously less radical and, as a rather classical party of notables , addressed more to the upper class;
  • the Catholic Katholieke Volkspartij ( Katholische Volkspartei , KVP) of 1945. It was by far the largest of the three and competed with the Social Democrats for the largest parliamentary group.

In addition to these three parties, there were and are other Christian parties. The oldest of these, the conservative and ultra-Calvinist Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij , has been represented in parliament since 1918. For a while there were more left-wing, Christian-social parties; of these, the Christelijk-Democratische Unie joined the left-wing Partij van de Arbeid in 1946. In 2002, two strictly Calvinist, but otherwise more center-oriented parties merged to form the Christian Union . From 2007 to 2010, it was in a coalition with the CDA and the PvdA, and since 2017 in a coalition with VVD , CDA and D66 .

Ruud Lubbers, Prime Minister 1982–1994

Piet Steenkamp is considered to be the architect of the 1980 CDA . Considerations of a merger of the three parties had existed since 1967 and were conducted within a cross-party working group ( Groep van Achttien ). The most important point of discussion was the definition of the term Christian politics . These talks initially led to a joint election program for the three parties in 1971, followed by a basic program for the future CDA in 1972. In 1973 the first party congress of the future CDA took place in the elections for the Second Chamber of Parliament (Tweede Kamer the Staten-Generaal) in 1977 they entered for the first time with a common list. The merger was formally completed at a special party conference in October 1980, at which Steenkamp was also appointed honorary chairman of the CDA.

Since 1977 the CDA has been the government under Prime Minister Dries van Agt and Ruud Lubbers together with various coalition partners . The Lubbers era ended in 1994 with a major election defeat; The reason for this was, among other things, the disputes between Lubbers and his designated successor Elco Brinkman .

Opposition period 1994–2002 and the Balkenende cabinets

Jan Peter Balkenende , Prime Minister 2002–2010

Between 1994 and 2002 the CDA was the largest opposition faction during the tenure of the Social Democratic Prime Minister Wim Kok . In 2001 the parliamentary group chairmanship changed from Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to Jan Peter Balkenende . At the end of its term of office, the Kok government got into difficult waters: the labor market reforms did not seem to be taking hold and Islamism became a major issue after September 11, 2001, along with long-simmering questions about foreigners policy. The right-wing populist Pim Fortuyn took up this skillfully and gained a lot of support in the polls. Ultimately, Kok's government resigned a few months before the end of the legislative period because of a damning final report on the Srebrenica case . During the election campaign, the historian Balkenende presented himself as a relatively new face in politics and as moderately critical of immigration.

In the elections of May 15, 2002, the CDA became the strongest party in the Second Chamber for the first time since 1989-1994 and, under Prime Minister Balkenende, formed the government together with various coalition partners, initially together with the VVD and the LPF , after the early elections on January 22, 2003 with VVD and D66 . During this time the Netherlands decided to take part in the occupation of Iraq and to enforce stricter immigration laws. After D66 left the coalition in 2006 because of the VVD minister Rita Verdonk , there were new elections. The CDA lost three seats to 41 of the 150 seats in the lower house of parliament.

At the beginning of 2007, Balkenende continued the affairs of state with the social democratic Partij van de Arbeid and the strictly Protestant ChristiansUnie . This coalition broke up in February 2010 over the question of extending the Afghanistan mission. Balkenende had ruled for eight years with five different coalition partners and two new elections.

Participation in the Rutte cabinet in 2010/12

Maxime Verhagen (CDA), Mark Rutte (VVD) and Geert Wilders (PVV), who will present government and tolerance agreements on September 30, 2010

Because of the major losses in the parliamentary elections on June 9, 2010 (minus 12.9 percent, to 13.6 percent share of the vote), party leader Balkenende resigned on election evening. The leadership took over Maxime Verhagen , who then also headed the parliamentary group. Verhagen answered the question of whether he was a political leader by stating that the CDA only appoints a top candidate for the chamber election and does not have a permanent political leader like other parties.

The party chairman Peter van Heeswijk , who also resigned due to the election defeat, was succeeded by Henk Bleker and Liesbeth Spies on a provisional basis. At the beginning of April 2011 a party congress elected Ruth Peetoom, who belongs to the left wing of the party, as the new party leader.

On October 14, 2010, the CDA formed a coalition with the right-wing liberal VVD. VVD leader Mark Rutte became the first Prime Minister of his party, the CDA was represented for the first time as a junior partner in a coalition. Verhagen became foreign minister. The cabinet received parliamentary support from the right-wing populist Partij voor de Vrijheid by Geert Wilders. This was discussed controversially within the CDA; because of the extremely tight majority, the disengagement of only two members of the Chamber would have caused difficulties for the coalition. At a party congress, only two thirds of those present voted for the coalition.

There were repeated conflicts between the anti-immigration attitude of Geert Wilders on the one hand and Christian-social Christian Democrats on the other. The CDA Congress in October 2011 overshadowed the question of whether the CDA Minister for Aliens Policy is allowed to deport an underage asylum seeker (Mauro) in a current case. The Congress remained without a decision. The following day, Maurice de Hond's polling agency reported that the polls had dropped to around seven percent of the vote.

After Wilders ended the collaboration with VVD and CDA in spring 2012, new elections were held . In the process, the CDA again lost a lot of its following. With 8.5 percent he was only slightly ahead of the always much smaller party D66 (8.0 percent). The CDA went into the opposition, but still had a very important negotiating position, as the governing parties VVD and PvdA did not have a majority in the First Chamber . There the CDA, with its 2011 election results, was even stronger than in the Second Chamber.

Participation in the Cabinet Rutte 2017

The CDA emerged stronger from the parliamentary elections on March 15, 2017 (12.38% or 19 seats). He was thus the natural coalition partner for the election winner, Mark Rutte's VVD. The search for a stable government majority took over seven months. After difficult negotiations, VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie agreed in October to form a four-party coalition . The CDA is represented in the cabinet by 4 ministers and 2 state secretaries. With Hugo de Jonge he is the Deputy Prime Minister (also Minister for Health) and also has important portfolios with the Ministry of Defense, Justice and Finance.

Development of membership numbers

For a long time the CDA was the country's party with the largest number of members. Since its peak in 1982 (152,885 members), this has fallen continuously to 39,187. The CDA is the third largest party in the Netherlands after the Forum voor Democratie and the PvdA.

Political positions

Maxime Verhagen, surrounded by journalists at the time the cabinet was formed, September 2010

On its website, the CDA names public justice, shared responsibility, solidarity and rentmeesterschap (see sustainability ) as starting points . A Christian conviction is only one of several possible sources of inspiration for the party.

In September of that year, the CDA voters of 2010 named the parties they would not like to see in the government: PvdA 47, Groen Links 41, D66 28, PVV and SP each 20 percent. Conversely, the SP voters (53 percent) were the least likely to see the CDA in the government. The voters of the CDA and VVD showed the greatest affection for one another.


The CDA is based in The Hague. There are several formally independent organizations within the CDA:

  • Wetenschappelijk Instituut voor het CDA (scientific institute)
  • CDA-bestuurdersvereniging (BSV) (BSV, business organization)
  • CDA-Vrouwenberaad (CDAV, women's organization)
  • CDJA (youth organization)
  • CDA Stichting voor internationale solidariteit
  • Steenkampinstituut (Stichting Kader- en Vormingswerk CDA) , training center


When it merged in 1980, the party had around 160,000 members. Since then the number of members has decreased almost continuously from year to year. From 1994 to 1995, after the first loss of government power, the party fell relatively abruptly from 107,000 to 100,000 members. The takeover by Balkenende caused the number to increase slightly from 78,000 (2002) to 79,000 (2003). At the beginning of 2019, the CDA still had 46,133 members, but is still the party with the largest number of members in the Netherlands.

year Number of members
1980 162.179
1982 152.885
1983 147,896
1984 138.179
1985 131,627
1986 127,849
1987 128,588
1988 127.046
1989 122,486
1990 125.033
1991 122,238
1992 118,449
1993 112.117
1994 107,000
1995 100,442
1996 94,412
1997 91,000
1998 89,000
1999 86,000
2000 82,000
2001 80,000
2002 78,000
2003 79,000
2004 77,000
2005 73,000
2006 69,000
2007 69,560
2008 69,200
2009 68.102
2010 67,592
2011 65,905
2012 61,294
2013 59,126
2014 56,310
2015 53,107
2016 50.181
2017 48,775
2018 46,630
2019 43,133

Sit in the second chamber

Party advertisements on Dutch farms mostly advertise the CDA (here in June 2010 in Oude IJsselstreek ).

(Total seats: 150)

  • 1956 - 77 seats (KVP 49, ARP 15, CHU 13)
  • 1959 - 75 seats (KVP 49, ARP 14, CHU 12)
  • 1963 - 76 seats (KVP 50, ARP 13, CHU 13)
  • 1967 - 69 seats (KVP 42, ARP 15, CHU 12)
  • 1971 - 58 seats (KVP 35, ARP 13, CHU 10)
  • 1972 - 48 seats (KVP 27, ARP 14, CHU 7)
  • 1977 - 49 seats
  • 1981 - 48 seats
  • 1982 - 45 seats
  • 1986 - 54 seats
  • 1989 - 54 seats
  • 1994 - 34 seats
  • 1998 - 29 seats
  • 2002 - 43 seats
  • 2003 - 44 seats
  • 2006 - 41 seats
  • 2010 - 21 seats
  • 2012 - 13 seats
  • 2017 - 19 seats

Top staff

Party leader

Group chairman in the Second Chamber

Party leader

See also


  • Paul Lucardie: The CDA in the Netherlands. In: Karsten Grabow (Ed.) Christian Democratic Parties in Western Europe. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Sankt Augustin 2012, ISBN 978-3-942775-80-9 , pp. 77-87.
  • Gerrit Voerman (ed.): De conjunctuur van de macht, het Christen Democratisch Appèl 1980-2010 . Boom, Amsterdam 2011. ISBN 978-94-6105-107-3 .

Web links

Commons : Christen Democratisch Appèl  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. CDA_ Partij. Retrieved October 20, 2013 .
  2. a b c CDA ledentallen per jaar (1975 -). In: Documentatiecentrum Nederlandse Politieke Partijen. University of Groningen , January 28, 2020, accessed on February 10, 2020 (Dutch).
  3. CDA: Priestess elected new party leader . Report on the website of the Netherlands information portal of the University of Münster from April 5, 2011. Accessed on May 1, 2012.
  4. Volkskrant: CDA zakt naar 11 zetels, laagste ooit , accessed on October 30, 2011.
  5. CDA ledentallen per jaar (1975 -) | Documentatiecentrum Nederlandse Politieke Partijen (DNPP). University of Groningen, January 28, 2020, accessed on February 10, 2020 .
  6. Waar staan ​​we voor ( Memento of the original from September 24, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Accessed on September 13, 2010.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. ( Memento of the original from November 8, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (with registration), Nieuw Haags Peil September 12, 2010 , accessed on September 13, 2010.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /