ChristianUnion (CU) & Political Reformed Party (SGP)

ChristianUnion (CU) & Political Reformed Party (SGP). This is a joint list of two Christian Orthodox parties.

The parties are elements of the infamous Protestant Dutch disposition towards splintered churches. Some of the more Orthodox Protestants disagreed with the ARP and CHU due to theological and ideological differences and hence formed their own parties. Two of these parties merged into the CU in 2001, but the most Orthodox, the Political Reformed Group, stayed separate, though the two run joint lists in European and some local elections.

The ChristianUnion is the more moderate and larger of the two parties. The party is very socially conservative, especially by Dutch standards, and it supports tighter regulation (and preferably eventually banning) of abortion, euthanasia, prostitution, pornography, soft drugs and so on. It also supports state benefits designed to encourage one parent (usually the wife) to stay at home.

However the CU has also gained some sympathy on the left as it interprets the Bible and Christianity in such a way as to hold centre-left positions on economic, immigration and environmentalist issues. The Dutch branch of Greenpeace once branded CU the greenest Dutch party, and the party views itself as ‘Christian Social’.

The party was in government between 2006 and 2010, in coalition with the CDA, who it competes with for socially conservative voters, and the PvdA.

It is also a moderately Eurosceptic party.

The SGP, is a much stranger party. The oldest party in the Netherlands, the SGP was founded in 1918 by members of the ARP who opposed female suffrage. The party has a tiny but stable base of support based in the Bijelbordel, the Dutch Bible belt. The party has won 2 seats in the Dutch parliament in almost every election since its foundation, occasionally winning a third on the basis of low turnout (as its base always votes).

The party is a ‘testimonial party’ which does not seek power so much as to ‘testify’ to its views. The party holds the most socially conservative positions of any Dutch party and unlike the CU also supports economic liberalism, arguing that Calvinists were the first economic liberals.

The party can seem somewhat odd and quirky to outsiders. For instance, it closes its website every Sunday and until recently opposed television.

Historically the SGP did not allow women to be members, as women, obviously, are banned from serving in a representative democracy by the Bible. This was ruled as against the constitution by a Dutch court in 2005 however, and faced with allowing membership or losing state funding the party opted for the former. The local elections of March 2014 were notable in that the SGP elected its first ever woman councillor after it was forced to put up a woman candidate in the town of Vlissingen as it couldn’t find a man to head up its list.

The party is often accused of advocating theocracy, as it wishes to make non-Protestants second class citizens, officially tolerating them, but not allowing them political representation.

In the last couple of years the SGP has moved from its traditional opposition to Catholicism (with the Pope traditionally identified as the Anti-Christ) onto opposition to secularism, but even more so Islam. This has placed it in the conservative camp, and the party acted to support the VVD/CDA-PVV aligned government in the Senate where it was just short of a majority.

The party is, like the CU, Eurosceptic.

Both the CU and SGP were involved in the talks in the formation of the European Conservatives and Reformists. The SGP was asked to change its views on women, however, to which it refused. Hence the CU sits in the ECR and the SGP sits in the Europe of Freedom and Democracy. Both are fairly independently minded. The CU is the least loyal member of the ECR, excepting defectors from other parties, and votes alongside the group 83.4% of the time. The SGP votes alongside the SGP 63.8% of the time, slightly below average for the group, though any apparent unity is simply a function of the SGP doing what it likes.