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Christian Union (Netherlands)

Christian Union
LeaderMirjam Bikker
ChairmanAnkie van Tatenhove
Leader in the CabinetCarola Schouten
Leader in the SenateTineke Huizinga
Leader in the House of RepresentativesMirjam Bikker
Leader in the European ParliamentAnja Haga
Founded22 January 2000 (2000-01-22)
Merger ofReformed Political Alliance
Reformatory Political Federation
HeadquartersPartijbureau ChristenUnie
Johan van Oldebarneveltlaan 46, Amersfoort
Youth wingPerspectieF
Think tankMr. G. Groen van Prinsterer Stichting
Membership (2024)Decrease 24,709[1]
Political positionFiscal: Centre[5] to centre-left[6][7]
Social: Centre-right[8]
ReligionOrthodox Protestant[note 1]
European affiliationEuropean Christian Political Movement
European Parliament groupEuropean Conservatives and Reformists (2009–2019)
European People's Party Group
Benelux Parliament groupChristian Group[9]
Colours  Sky blue
SloganDutch: Geef geloof een stem
(Give faith a voice/vote)
3 / 75
House of Representatives
3 / 150
Provincial councils
21 / 570
European Parliament
1 / 29
King's Commissioners
1 / 12
Benelux Parliament
2 / 21

The Christian Union (Dutch: ChristenUnie [ˈkrɪs.tənˈ], CU) is a Christian-democratic[10] political party in the Netherlands. The CU is a centrist party, maintaining more progressive stances on economic, immigration and environmental issues[11][12][13] while holding more socially conservative positions on issues such as abortion and euthanasia. The party describes itself as "social Christian".[14]

Founded in 2000 as a merger of the Reformed Political League (GPV) and Reformatory Political Federation (RPF),[11] the Christian Union has five seats in the House of Representatives and four in the Senate. After doubling its seats in the 2006 elections, it became the smallest member of the fourth Balkenende cabinet.[11] In some elections, it forms an alliance with the Calvinist Reformed Political Party (SGP), which, unlike the CU, is a testimonial party.

Primarily a Protestant party, the CU bases its policies on the Bible, and takes the theological principles of charity and stewardship as bases for its support for public expenditure and environmentalism. The party seeks for government to uphold Christian morality, but supports freedom of religion under the doctrine of sphere sovereignty. The party is moderately Eurosceptic; it was formerly with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament but now sits with the European People's Party group (EPP). It is a member of the European Christian Political Movement.


Before 2000

The predecessors of the CU. the Reformed Political League and the Reformatory Political Federation

The Netherlands has a long tradition of small orthodox or conservative Protestant (i.e., mostly Reformed) parties in parliament. The Reformed Political Party (SGP) entered parliament in the 1922 election as a split off 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 the HGS was unable to obtain seats in the 1946 elections. In 1948, the Reformed Political Alliance (GPV) split from the Anti-Revolutionary Party over a religious issue within the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, but it took until 1963 for the party to enter parliament. In the 1981 election, the Reformatory Political Federation (RPF) entered parliament. It had split from the ARP six years earlier over the formation of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA).

The RPF explicitly stated in its manifesto of principles that it sought to unite all reformed parties in the Netherlands. However, the GPV and SGP were somewhat less receptive. The GPV was only open to a specific current in reformed Protestantism, namely the Reformed Churches (Liberated), did not want to cooperate with non-'liberated' reformed: it had rejected the entry of the group that was to become the RPF in the 1970s on religious grounds. The SGP had rejected cooperation with these parties because they had female members; the SGP consistently rejected female suffrage until 2006. The RPF, GPV and SGP were testimonial parties, which chose to voice their concerns about government policy, while acknowledging that they are not big enough to force their opinion upon others.

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 an electoral alliance in order to enhance their chances of obtaining seats. In 1995 informal talks were opened between the three parties. The GPV had opened itself to non-liberated members, but the SGP not to women. The discussions 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 major 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. From 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 formalised and intensified, leading to the foundation of the Christian Union.


André Rouvoet Leader of the Christian Union from 2002 to 2011

The Christian Union was founded in January 2000 as an alliance between the RPF and GPV. Later that year, their youth organisations, GPJC and RPFJ, fused completely, presenting an example to their mother organisations. In 2001, they formed a common parliamentary party in both the House of Representatives and Senate. In 2002 the alliance entered the elections for the first time. The party got four seats - 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 had been good at keeping the peace internally in a party still somewhat divided along the old GPV and RPF blood lines, but had not appealed well enough to the population at large. With preference votes a woman, Tineke Huizinga (positioned no. 7 on the CU candidate-list) was elected into parliament for the CU, becoming the first woman to enter parliament for the party or its predecessors. Because of her election, prominent party figure Eimert van Middelkoop, who was no. 4 on the candidate-list, had to leave parliament. In the 2003 general election the party lost an additional seat, and was left with three seats. Again Huizinga (now no. 4 on the list) was elected with preference votes and this time former RPF leader Leen van Dijke (no. 3) had to leave parliament. The decline of the CU in 2003 was probably due to party supporters voting for the Christian-democratic CDA, which was competing with the social-democratic PvdA, to become the largest party. The Christian Union was heavily involved in the formation of Balkenende II, along with the SGP. However, the liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) vetoed the formation of a cabinet that included the two conservative Reformed parties, and so the progressive liberal D66 became a part of the governing alliance instead. In 2004 the two organisations RPF and GPV officially ceased to exist, making the fusion into CU final.

In the 2006 elections, the party doubled its seats and joined the fourth cabinet Balkenende. CU-leader André Rouvoet became Deputy Prime Minister and minister without portfolio for family and youth, while Middelkoop became Minister of Defence and Huizinga junior minister (staatssecretaris) of Transport and Water management. Since the party has entered government, there has been some controversy about the conservative Christian ethical views of some of its members. In 2007 Yvette Lont, a CU municipal council member for Amsterdam, expressed the view that homosexuals should not be admitted to representative functions within the party. Also in 2007, municipal council member Monique Heger decided to resign from office, because she had recently discovered that she was a lesbian, and she and her (female) partner moved in together.

After the collapse of the Balkenende cabinet, the Christian Union had no representatives in government any more and Rouvoet returned to parliament as leader of the CU parliamentary group, until he left politics in April/May 2011. Arie Slob succeeded him as the party leader.

Gert-Jan Segers Leader of the Christian Union from 2015 to 2023

In October 2013, the Second Rutte cabinet (VVD and PvdA), lacking a majority in the Senate, reached a budgetary agreement with the CU, the Reformed Political Party (SGP) and Democrats 66 (D66). This occasional coalition is nicknamed "purple plus the Bible" (Paars met de Bijbel) as it includes the secular parties VVD, PvdA and D66 plus the religious-orientated parties Christian Union and SGP. The term "purple plus the Bible" had already been used in February that year, when the same parties reached an agreement on modernising the housing market. Although the cabinet is quite unpopular and the VVD and PvdA lost a lot of municipal seats during the municipal elections of 19 March 2014, the parties that give tactical support to the minority government of VVD and PvdA, D66, CU and SGP won a lot of seats.

After the 2017 general election, the Christian Union became part of the Third Rutte cabinet, as a minor coalition partner to the VVD, CDA and D66. The party has three representatives in the current cabinet: minister Carola Schouten for the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Arie Slob, Minister for Primary Education, Secondary Education and Media and Paul Blokhuis, State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sports.

Following the 2019 European elections, the Christian Union left the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament (of which it had been a founding member) arguing that the ECR was moving too far to the right by including MEPs far-right parties such as the Dutch Forum for Democracy and the Sweden Democrats. The party instead joined the European People's Party Group.

In January 2023, Mirjam Bikker succeeded Segers as the party leader.[15] During the 2023 Dutch general election the Christian Union lost two of their five seats, getting 2% of the votes.[16]


The CU describes itself as a Christian social party. The party has its roots in orthodox Protestant (i.e. mostly Reformed) parties, often referred to as the "small right". It combines a conservative point of view on ethical and foreign policy issues, with more centre-left ideas on economic, asylum, social and environmental issues. Its conservative reformed ideals are reflected in its program of principles. It believes that the state is the swordmaiden of God. It bases its politics directly on the Bible. However, it 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. Other Christian principles, like neighbourly love and stewardship for the Earth, however have given the CU's political program a centre-left orientation.

Some of CU's socially conservative policies include:[17]

More centre-left policies include:

Social issues

The CU describes itself as "Christelijk-sociaal" (Social Christian) and explicitly distance themselves from the labels Christian socialism or Christian right.[19][2] "Social Christian" describes a Christian democracy ideology that is more right-wing than Christian socialism and more left-wing than the Christian right and social conservatism. Described as centrist and Orthodox Protestant, it has an emphasis on the community, social solidarity, support for a welfare state, and support for some regulation of market forces but is more conservative on some social issues opposition to euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, same-sex marriage, abortion, and some elements of the EU. The party is left of centre on issues such as social policy, asylum policy, development aid, green environmental policy and the economy.[14][20]

The party supports Dutch membership of the European Union to ensure peace and prosperity, and to counter the influence of Russia and China, while simultaneously being critical of several EU policies which it claims are undemocratic and "mainly benefits large companies and the upper middle classes." The CU instead calls for more transparency within the EU, for domestic decision making of EU member states to be respected and wants reforms made to the Eurozone. The CU is also against the accession of Turkey to the European Union.[21]

Electoral results

This table shows the CU's results in elections to the House of Representatives, Senate, European Parliament and States-Provincial, as well as the party's political leadership: the fractievoorzitter is the chair of the parliamentary party and the lead candidate 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 figure and the name of the party chairman of the CU are listed.

House of Representatives

Election Lead candidate Votes % Seats +/– Government
2002 Kars Veling 240,953 2.54 (#8)
4 / 150
Decrease 1 Opposition
2003 André Rouvoet 204,649 2.12 (#8)
3 / 150
Decrease 1 Opposition
2006 390,969 3.97 (#6)
6 / 150
Increase 3 Coalition
2010 305,094 3.24 (#8)
5 / 150
Decrease 1 Opposition
2012 Arie Slob 294,586 3.13 (#8)
5 / 150
Steady Opposition
2017 Gert-Jan Segers 356,271 3.39 (#8)
5 / 150
Steady Coalition
2021 350,523 3.37 (#8)
5 / 150
Steady Coalition
2023 Mirjam Bikker 212,532 2.04 (#13)
3 / 150
Decrease 2 Opposition


Election Votes % Seats +/–
4 / 75
Increase 2
2 / 75
Decrease 2
4 / 75
Increase 2
2 / 75
Decrease 2
2015 32
3 / 75
Increase 1
2019 33 5.03
4 / 75
Increase 1
2023 23 3.73
3 / 75
Decrease 1

European Parliament

Election List Votes % Seats +/– Notes
2004 List 279,880 5.87
2 / 27
New In combination with Reformed Political Party[22]
2009 List 310,540 6.82
2 / 25
Steady In combination with Reformed Political Party[23]
2014 List 364,843 7.67
2 / 26
Steady In combination with Reformed Political Party[24]
2019 List 375,660 7.67
2 / 26
Steady In combination with Reformed Political Party[25]


This article needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (June 2015)

Since the Provincial elections of March 2015, the Christian Union has had 29 members of the States-Provincial. It is part of the provincial executives of Overijssel and Flevoland.

The following table below shows the election results of the most recent 2015 provincial election in each province. It shows the areas where the ChristenUnie is strong, namely Groningen, Overijssel, Gelderland and Flevoland, provinces which have a traditional large conservative Protestant population. The party is especially weak in the southern Catholic provinces of Limburg and North Brabant and the more secular North Holland province.

Province Votes (%) Result (seats)
Drenthe 6.43 3
Flevoland 7.27 3
Friesland* 7.43 3
Gelderland 6.12 4
Groningen 8.75 4
Limburg N/A 0
North Brabant* 2.03 1
North Holland* 2.70 1
Overijssel 8.37 4
South Holland 4.80 3
Utrecht 6.16 3
Zeeland 5.73 2


* result of combined CU/SGP lists; ** members of the CU in combined CU/SGP parliamentary parties.


This article needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (June 2015)

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 municipal 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 municipal councils.


Members of the cabinet

Christian Union members in third Rutte cabinet. left to right: Paul Blokhuis, Carola Schouten, Arie Slob

From 2007 to 2010 the CU supplied two ministers and one state secretary in the fourth Balkenende cabinet:

Since 2017, the CU has once again supplied two ministers and one state secretary in the third Rutte cabinet:

Members of the Fourth Rutte cabinet

Portrait Name Position Assumed office
Carola Schouten Carola Schouten
(born 1977)
Deputy Prime Minister 26 October 2017
Minister for Social Affairs and Employment
Civic Engagement
10 January 2022
Piet Adema Piet Adema
(born 1964)
Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality 4 October 2022
Maarten van Ooijen Maarten van Ooijen
(born 1990)
State Secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport
Youth Care
Preventive Care
10 January 2022

Members of the House of Representatives

Members of the Senate

Members of the European Parliament

After the 2019 European Parliament elections, the party has one representative in the European Parliament, who sits in the European People's Party group:


The CU was supported by orthodox Reformed of many denominations, such as the Christian Reformed Churches, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated) and the Dutch Reformed Church. But members of newer churches such as the Evangelical Church and the Pentecostal community also supported this party. The electorate is concentrated in the smaller rural districts in the so-called "Bible Belt" an area of more conservative Christian municipalities that reaches from Overijssel, through the Veluwe and the Biesbos to Zeeland. The party also draws support from Christians with an immigrant background, who are mostly located in the large cities.

The party is also drawing support from a growing number of conservative Roman Catholics, dissatisfied with the less Christian policies of the CDA. Roman Catholics are welcome to become a member of the party although one of the foundations of the party is the Heidelberg Catechism, known for its staunch anti-Catholicism. During the Provincial elections of 2007 the party fielded two Roman Catholic candidates on their shortlist of the province of Limburg. This process has alerted some prominent CDA politicians. CU-senator Egbert Schuurman stated the CU will provide a shelter for everyone who actively believes in Jesus Christ but also said the CU will always be a Protestant party.

The party's congress, held on 13 June 2015, replaced the Heidelberg Catechism with Nicean Creed.



Organisational structure

The highest body in the CU is the Union Congress, formed by delegates from the municipal branches. It appoints the party board and decides the order of the candidates on the lists for elections to the Senate, House of Representatives and European Parliament and has the final 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 25,170 members (as of 1 January 2019). They are organised in over 200 municipal branches.

Linked organisations

The youth organisation of the party is PerspectieF which was formed as a fusion of the two youth organisations 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 organisation is Inclusief.

The CU participates in the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, a democracy assistance organisation of seven Dutch political parties.

International organisations

Internationally the CU is a member of the European Christian Political Movement. Its MEPs where seated in the European Conservatives and Reformists group. Until 2019 when the CU joined the EPP Group

Orthodox-Protestant (pillarised) organisations

The CU still has ideological strong links with so-called pillarised organisations. Together with conservative Protestant schools, papers like the Nederlands Dagblad and the Reformatorisch Dagblad, the Protestant broadcaster Evangelische Omroep, several Reformed churches they constitute the conservative or orthodox Reformed pillar (Dutch zuil). While all four of the traditional Dutch pillars (socialists, liberals, Protestants and Catholics) have broken down since the 1960s, the orthodox reformed pillar has actually strengthened in reaction to the process of secularisation.

Relationships to other parties

The Christian Union had been in the opposition until 2006. It has good relations with the orthodox Reformed Political Party (SGP), with which it formed a single European parliamentary party CU-SGP until 2022 and the Christian Democratic Appeal, with which the ChristenUnie-SGP had an electoral alliance for the 2004 European Parliament elections. As an opposition party against the centre-right Second Balkenende cabinet, the CU has gained sympathy from the left wing parties in parliament, the Labour Party, the Socialist Party, and the GroenLinks, with which it cooperates in several local governments after the 2006 municipal elections.

International comparisons

The Evangelical People's Party of Switzerland is nearest to the Christian Union as a conservative Protestant party that is left wing in social matters, conservative in ethical matters and critical of the European Union.


  1. ^ "Orthodox Protestantism" is a term which is used in the Netherlands to refer to conservative forms of Protestantism in contrast to liberal or free-thinking forms of Protestantism. This includes conservative branches of the Dutch Reformed Church and the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (now united in the Protestant Church of the Netherlands), but also to independent forms of Reformed Protestantism, such as the Reformed Churches (Liberated) or other more conservative forms of Protestantism, such as the certain branches of Baptism like Reformed and Primitive Baptists. It is unrelated to the Eastern Orthodox Church.


  1. ^ "Ledentallen Nederlandse politieke partijen per 1 januari 2024" [Membership of Dutch political parties as of 1 January 2024]. University of Groningen (in Dutch). Documentation Centre Dutch Political Parties. 28 February 2024. Retrieved 28 February 2024.
  2. ^ a b c Nordsieck, Wolfram (2021). "Netherlands". Parties and Elections in Europe. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  3. ^ Terry, Chris (11 May 2014). "ChristianUnion (CU) & Political Reformed Party (SGP)". The Democratic Society. Archived from the original on 13 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Party watch: ChristenUnie focus on health, families and poverty". Dutch News (in Dutch). Retrieved 19 November 2023.
  5. ^ Jort Statema; Paul Aarts. "The Netherlands: Follow Washington, Be a Good European". In Timo Behr; Teija Tiilikainen (eds.). Northern Europe and the Making of the EU's Mediterranean and Middle East Policies. note on p. 237.
  6. ^ "Netherlands – Political parties". European Election Database. Norwegian Centre for Research Data. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  7. ^ Oomkes, Lex (15 August 2012). "Uitersten in politiek landschap winnen terrein". Trouw (in Dutch). Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  8. ^ Rudy B. Andeweg; Galen A. Irwin (2014). Governance and Politics of the Netherlands (4th ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. p. 74.
  9. ^ "Politieke fracties". Benelux Parliament (in Dutch). Retrieved 8 August 2023.
  10. ^ Peter Starke; Alexandra Kaasch; Franca Van Hooren (2013). The Welfare State as Crisis Manager: Explaining the Diversity of Policy Responses to Economic Crisis. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 193. ISBN 978-1-137-31484-0.
  11. ^ a b c Joop W. Koopmans, ed. (2015). Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 71–72. ISBN 978-1-4422-5593-7.
  12. ^ "Links en rechts".
  13. ^ Rudy B. Andeweg; Galen A. Irwin (2014). Governance and Politics of the Netherlands (4th ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 74, 78.
  14. ^ a b (in Dutch) ChristenUnie Parlement & Politiek
  15. ^ "Wie is Mirjam Bikker, de nieuwe ChristenUnie-leider? 'Slim en betrouwbaar'". RTL Nieuws (in Dutch). 2023-01-13. Retrieved 2023-12-03.
  16. ^ "NOS - Uitslagen Tweede Kamerverkiezingen 2023". (in Dutch). Retrieved 2023-12-03.
  17. ^ "Standpunten".
  18. ^ (in Dutch) ChristenUnie op 1 in energiebarometer Greenpeace Christian Union
  19. ^ Andeweg, R. and G. Irwin Politics and Governance in the Netherlands, Basingstoke (Palgrave) p.49
  20. ^ (in Dutch) CU is niet meer 'christelijk-sociaal' Trouw
  21. ^ "Europa -".
  22. ^ "Kiesraad: Europees Parlement 10 juni 2004" (in Dutch). Kiesraad. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  23. ^ "Kiesraad: Europees Parlement 4 juni 2009" (in Dutch). Kiesraad. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  24. ^ "Kiesraad: Europees Parlement 22 mei 2014" (in Dutch). Kiesraad. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  25. ^ "Kiesraad: Europees Parlement 23 mei 2019" (in Dutch). Kiesraad. 4 June 2019. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  26. ^ "Provinciale Staten 18 maart 2015". Kiesraad.
  27. ^ "Tweede Kamerfractie ChristenUnie (CU)". Parlement & Politiek (in Dutch). Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  28. ^ "Eerste Kamerfractie ChristenUnie (CU)". Parlement & Politiek (in Dutch). Retrieved 27 May 2018.

Media related to ChristenUnie at Wikimedia Commons

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Christian Union (Netherlands)
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