Catholic People's Party

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The Katholieke Volkspartij (in English: Catholic People's Party; abbreviated as KVP) was a Catholic Christian-democratic Dutch political party. During its entire existence, the party was in government.


[edit] History

[edit] 1945-1958

The KVP was founded on 22 December 1945. It was a continuation of the pre-war RKSP. Unlike the RKSP, the KVP was open to people of all denominations, but mainly Catholics supported the party. In the elections of 1946 the party won a third of the vote, and joined the newly founded social-democratic PvdA to form a coalition. This Rooms-Rode coalition (Rooms, Roman for the Roman-Catholic KVP, Rood, Red for the Social-democratic PvdA) lasted until 1956. Except for the first two years (1946-1948) all these cabinets were led by the moderate social-democrat Drees. The PvdA and the KVP were joined by combinations of the protestant-Christian ARP and CHU and the liberal VVD to form oversized cabinets, that often held a comfortable two-thirds majority. The cabinets helped rebuild the Dutch society and economy after the ravages of the Second World War and grant independence to the Dutch colony of Indonesia. In 1948 a small group of Catholics broke away from the KVP to form the Katholieke Nationale Partij (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.

[edit] 1958-1965

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. After a cabinet crisis 1958 the KVP and the PvdA split. After the 1959 elections the KVP joined with the ARP, CHU and VVD to form a centre-right cabinet de Quay. It continued to strengthen the welfare state. The coalition maintained its majority in the 1963 elections, and subsequently the cabinet Marijnen was followed with the same parties. This coalition oversaw an economic high conjuncture. An internal dispute over the broadcasting system however causes the cabinet to fall in 1965.

[edit] 1965-1980

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The period 1965-1980 is period of decline, crisis and dissent for the KVP. Without elections the KVP, the ARP and the PvdA, form the cabinet-Cals. This short-lived cabinet fell in one of the first televised parliamentary debates in Dutch history: the Night of Schmelzer. In this debate Schmelzer, the KVP-leader, showed himself a master of political intrigue, much to disdain of many Catholics. The share of votes for the KVP began to decline after 1966, because of depillarisation and secularisation: There were less Catholics and Catholics no longer supported a Catholic party. In the following elections, the KVP-leadership declared that they wanted to continue cooperation with the protestant ARP and CHU. Cooperation with the PvdA was much less important. This led to unrest under young and left wing KVP supporters. After the elections this promise was upheld and the KVP leads a cabinet with its old partners. This cabinet was headed by the former KVP minister of defence de Jong. After much debate a group of prominent party members broke away from the KVP in 1968 to form the Political Party of Radicals (PPR). The party became a close partner of the PvdA. Although the coalition lost the 1971 elections a new centre-right cabinet was formed with dissenters of the PvdA, united in DS'70. This is the first cabinet since 1958 which was not headed by a Catholic, but the KVP was still the leading force in the cabinet. The cabinet fell in 1972 because of internal problems of the junior partner, DS'70. In the subsequent elections the KVP lost so many seats that it was forced to cooperate even more with the protestant ARP and CHU. Ideas to form a broad Christian-Democratic party, like the German CDU were brought into practice. In 1974 the three parties form a federation, called Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA). In 1980 the three parties officially dissolved themselves into it. Although the KVP did not officially support the cabinet several prominent party-members including future CDA prime minster Dries van Agt, joined the cabinet-Den Uyl that was formed after the 1972 elections. This cabinet was characterized as a fighting cabinet and fell just before the 1977 elections.

The Catholics within the KVP still constitute a powerful group within the CDA.

[edit] Ideology

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 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 Surinam should be independent countries within a Dutch Commonwealth.

[edit] Links to other organization

The KVP had an own youth organisation, the KVPJG (Youth Groups within the KVP) and a scientific foundation: the Centre for Political Formation.

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 Jellow-White Cross and Catholic Schools. The Catholic Broadcasting Association KRO and the Catholic Paper De Volkskrant were the voices of the KVP.

[edit] Important Figures

Romme, party leader 1946-1961

Beel, minister-president 1946-1948, 1958-1959

Klompé, minister of Culture, Recreation and Welfare, the first female minister 1956-1963; 1966-1971

Luns, minister of foreign affairs 1952-1971

Schmelzer, party-leader 1963-1971

Van Agt, minister of justice 1971-1977

[edit] Electorate

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.


Historic political parties in the Netherlands
Catholic: General League, Roman Catholic People's Party, Roman-Catholic State Party, Catholic People's Party, Catholic National Party, Political Party Radicals, Roman Catholic Party Netherlands
Liberal: Liberal Union, Radical League, Free-thinking Democratic League, League of Free Liberals, Liberal Party, Economic League, Middle Class Party, Neutral Party, Liberal State Party, Freedom Party
Reformed: Anti Revolutionary Party, Christian Historical Voters' League, Free Anti Revolutionary Party, Christian Historical Party, Frisian League, Christian Historical Union, League of Christian Socialists, Christian Democratic Party, Christian Social Party, Christian Democratic Union, Reformed Reformed State Party, Reformed Political Alliance, Reformatory Political Federation, Evangelical People's Party
Communist, Socialist and Social-Democratic: Social Democratic League, Social Democratic Workers' Party, Communist Party of the Netherlands, Socialist Party, Revolutionary Socialist Party, Pacifist Socialist Party, Democratic Socialists '70
Other: Alliance for the Democratization of the Army, Peasants' League, Middle Party for City and Country, Alliance for National Reconstruction, National Socialist Movement, Farmers' Party, New Middle Party, Centre Party, Centre Democrats, General Elderly Alliance, Union 55+, Livable Netherlands
de:Katholieke Volkspartij

nl:Katholieke Volkspartij

Catholic People's Party

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