Learn more about ChristianUnion
- This article is about the Dutch political party. See Christian Union (students) for the university religious organization.
|Headquarters|| Partij Bureau ChristenUnie |
Puntenburgerlaan 91, Amersfoort
|Political Ideology||Christian Socialism, Orthodox Protestant|
|European Affiliation||European Christian Political Movement|
|European Parliament Group||Independence and Democracy|
|See also||Politics of the Netherlands|
The ChristianUnion (in Dutch: ChristenUnie, CU) is a relatively young Dutch orthodox Protestant political party. It combines a conservative point of view on ethical issues, with more centre left ideas on economic, social and environmental issues. Until the last elections on November 22, 2006, the CU was in opposition against the cabinet Balkenende II. Led by Andre Rouvoet, the CU's strength grew from three to six seats. Now, many consider the CU to be a serious candidate to help form of a new cabinet.
 Party history
 Before 2000
The Netherlands has a long tradition of small orthodox Protestant parties in parliament. The Reformed Political Party (SGP) entered parliament in the 1922 election as a split of from the Anti Revolutionary Party, the Hervormd Gereformeerde Staatspartij (HGS) entered parliament in the 1925 election, a split from the Christian Historical Union. The SGP did survive the war years, but HGS was unable to obtain seats in the 1946 elections. In the 1963 election the Reformed Political Alliance (GPV) entered parliament, although it was founded in 1948 as a split from the Anti Revolutionary Party over a religious issue within the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. In the 1981 election, the Reformatory Political Federation (RPF) entered parliament. It had split from the ARP over the formation of the Christian Democratic Appeal.
The RPF explicitly stated in its manifesto of principles that it sought to unite all orthodox reformed parties in the Netherlands. The other two were less positive about cooperation however. The GPV which was only open to specific current in reformed Protestantism, namely the Reformed Churches (liberated) did not want to cooperate with non-'liberated' reformeds: it had rejected the entry of the group that was to become the RPF in the 1970s on religious grounds. The Reformed Political Party had rejected cooperation with these parties because they had female members while the SGP methodically rejected female suffrage.
In 1984 however the three parties cooperated in the European elections and presented a common list in order to enter the European Parliament. In the 1989 general election they formed a electoral alliance in order to improve their seats. In 1995 informal talks were opended between the three parties. The GPV had opened itself to non-liberated members, but the SGP not to women. The disscussion with the SGP were broken off and the GPV and RPF continued together. For a long time the GPV was not willing to enter a large internal debate with the RPF which also performed better electorally; it had won three seats in the 1998 elections while the GPV received only two. Since 1998 the two parliamentary parties cooperated with each other, held common meetings and appointed common spokespersons. In 1999 a group called "Transformatie" (Transformation) was set up by young people from both parties in reaction to the slow cooperation process: they tried to intensify the debate about cooperation. In the same year the cooperation-talks were formalized and intensified, leading to the foundation of the ChristianUnion.
The ChristianUnion was founded in January 2000 as an alliance between the two orthodox reformed parties Reformed Political Alliance and the Reformatory Political Federation. In 2000 their youth organizations, GPJC and RPFJ fused entirely, as an example for their mother organizations. In 2001 they formed a common parliamentary party in both the lower and higher house. In 2002 the alliance entered the elections for the first time. The party got four seat, that is one seat less than the 1998 election when they campaigned separately. It had polled much better, with some polling stations predicting seven or eight seats. The party's leader Kars Veling stepped down. He was good at keeping the peace internally in a party still somewhat divided amongst the old GPV-RPF line, but not someone who was an appealing candidate for the general population. With preference votes a woman, Tineke Huizinga was elected into parliament for the CU, she was the first women to enter parliament for an orthodox Protestant party. In the 2003 the party lost an additional seat, and was left with three seats. This was probably because supporters of the party voted for the Christian-democratic CDA, that was in a heavy competition with the social-democratic PvdA, to become largest party. It was heavily involved the formation of Balkenende II, but the refusal of the liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) prevented the formation of a CDA/VVD/CU/SGP cabinet and instead allowed the progressive liberal D66 to become part of the governing alliance. In 2004 the two organizations RPF and GPV officially ceased to exist, making the fusion into CU final.
 Ideology and issues
The CU is an orthodox reformed party. It believes that the state is the sword maiden of God. It bases its politics directly on the Bible. It however sees separate duties for the state and the church in public life: the church should spread the Word of God, while the state should merely uphold public morality. The state should respect the religion of its citizens.
Its orthodox reformed ideals are reflected in its political program. Christian principles like neighbourly love and stewardship for the Earth however have given the CU's political program a centre-left orientation. Some of its practical policies include:
- Facilitation by government of an one-earner model, allowing one parent, usually the wife, to stay home and take care of the kids.
- Society should cherish its collective moments of rest, and leave the Sunday a day of rest.
- Abortion and euthanasia should be reduced and eventually replaced by adoption and palliative care.
- The Dutch policy of toleration of soft drugs should be abandoned.
- Combating pornography and prostitution.
- Allow civil servant to refuse to perform gay marriage.
- Defending the freedom of education (that is to found religious schools), because of sphere sovereignty.
- The Netherlands should remain an independent political entity within the European Union.
- Public services like education, health care and social security should be small scaled and qualitatively good.
- Increased budgets for development cooperation in order to address the poverty in the global south.
- A less restrictive and more human policy towards asylum seekers, especially those who are pursued for their religious beliefs.
- Limiting the use of genetic manipulation.
- A relatively green environmental policy. Because of it promised to invest the most in green energy it was called most "green" party by the Dutch branch of Greenpeace.<ref>www.greenpeace.nl</ref>
|Politics Portal · edit|
In this table the election results of the CU in Tweede Kamer, Eerste Kamer and European elections is represented, 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. It also listed whether the CU was in government at the time. For further information the membership and the party chair of the CU is listed
|2000||5||4||2||37||no elections||Leen van Dijke||opposition||unknown||M. van Daalen|
|2001||5||4||2||37||no elections||Leen van Dijke||opposition||unknown||M. van Daalen|
|2002||4||4||2||37||Leen van Dijke||Kars Veling||opposition||27.250||M. van Daalen|
|2003||3||2||2||26+3*||André Rouvoet||André Rouvoet||opposition||27.000||M. van Daalen|
|2004||3||2||1||26+3*||no election||André Rouvoet||opposition||25.074||M. van Daalen|
|2005||3||2||1||26+3*||no election||André Rouvoet||opposition||24.235||P. Blokhuis|
|2006||3||2||1||26+3*||André Rouvoet||André Rouvoet||opposition||24.156||P. Blokhuis|
*: elected on combined SGP/CU-lists (estimate).
 Members of the Lower House of Parliament
After the 2003 elections the party has three representatives in the lower house of parliament:
 Members of the Higher House of Parliament
After the 2003 Lower House elections the party has two representatives in the Lower House:
- Egbert Schuurman, fractievoorzitter
- Eimert van Middelkoop
 Members of the European Parliament
After the 2004 European Parliament elections the party has one representative in the European Parliament:
 Muncipal and provincial government
 Provincial government
The following table below shows the election results of the 2003 provincial election in each province. It shows the areas where the CU is strong. Namely Groningen and Flevoland, traditional conservative Protestant provinces. The party is especially weak in the catholic provinces Limburg and North Brabant and the secular North Holland province.
|Province||Votes (%)||Result (seats)|
- result of combined ChristianUnion/SGP lists; ** members of the CU (estimate) in combined ChristianUnion/SGP parliamentary parties; *** did not enter.
 Municipal government
Eight of the 414 mayors of the Netherlands are members of the CU. CU tends to have mayors in smaller rural districts in the so-called "Bible belt". This includes cities like Tholen, Staphorst and Elburg. The party cooperates in several local executives, both in the more conservative Bible Belt area, and in several larger cities like Leiden or Utrecht where the CU is a small party but needed to form a majority. It has 71 aldermen. It has 398 members of local legislatives.
The CU was supported by orthodox Reformed of many denominations, such as the Christian Reformed Churches, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, the Reformed Churches (liberated) and the Dutch Reformed Church. But also members of newer churches such as the Evangelical Church and the Pentecostal community supported this party. The electorate is concencentrated in smaller rural districts in the so-called "Bible belt" an area of more conservative Christian municipalities that goes from Overijssel, through the Veluwe and the Biesbos to Zeeland.
 Organizational structure
The highest organ of the CU is the Union Congress , it is formed by delegates from the municipal branches. It appoints the party board and decides the order of the First Chamber, Second Chamber, European Parliament candidates list and has the last say over the party program. A member congress has an important role in the formation of the CU's political direction.
The CU currently has 25,000 members. They are organized in over 200 municipal branches.
 Linked organisations
The youth organisation of the party is PerspectieF it was formed as a fusion between the two youth organizations of the CU's predecessors the GPJC and RPFJ. The party publishes the HandSchrift (HandWriting) six times a year. The party's scientific institute is the Mr. Groen van Prinsterer Foundation, which publishes the DenkWijzer (ThoughtWiser). The women's organization is Inclusief.
 International organisations
 Pillarized organisations
The CU still has ideological strong links with so-called pillarized organizations. Together with orthodox religious schools, papers like the Nederlands Dagblad and the Hervormd Dagblad, the Protestant broadcaster Evangelische Omroep, several reformed churches they form an orthodox reformed pillar.
 Relationships to other parties
The party has never been in government. It has good relations with the orthodox reformed SGP with which it forms one European parliamentary party ChristenUnie-SGP and the Christian-Democratic CDA, with which the ChristenUnie-SGP had an electoral alliance for the 2004 European Parliament elections. As a critical but constructive opposition party against the Second Balkenende cabinet the CU has gained sympathy from the leftwing parties in parliament, the PvdA, the SP and the GreenLeft, with which it cooperates in several local governments after the 2006 municipal elections.
 International Comparison
The Evangelical People's Party of Switzerland and its ally the Federal Democratic Union of Switzerland are the closest to the ChristianUnion as orthodox Protestant parties that are conservative in social matters and critical of the European Union. Both these parties and the ChristianUnion have never been in government.
The party is also comparable to the American Christian Right and the small Protestant parties of Scandinavia, such as the Christian Democratic Party of Norway, the Swedish and Danish Christian Democrats. The party has never been in a government coalition however, instead it has chosen to voice its concerns with government policy, while acknowledging that they are not big enough to force their opinion upon others: the party is a testimonial party.
 External links
- Introduction (in English)
- Website of the European Christian Political Movement, of which the ChristenUnie is a member
- ChristenUnie: http://www.christenunie.nl/ (in Dutch)
|Political parties in the Netherlands|
|Second Chamber:||Christian Democratic Appeal (41) | Labour Party (33) | Socialist Party (25) | People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (22) | Party for Freedom (9) | GreenLeft (7) | ChristianUnion (6) | Democrats 66 (3) | Party for the Animals (2) | Political Reformed Party (2)|
|First Chamber:||Christian Democratic Appeal (23) | Labour Party (19) | People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (15) | GreenLeft (5) | Socialist Party (4)| Democrats 66 (3) | ChristianUnion (3) | List Pim Fortuyn (1) | Political Reformed Party (1) | Independent Senate Fraction (1)|
|European Parliament:||Christian Democratic Appeal (7) | Labour Party (7) | People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (4) | GreenLeft (2) | Socialist Party (2) | Europe Transparent (2) | ChristianUnion/Political Reformed Party (2) | Democrats 66 (1)|