Reformed Political Party

Reformed Political Party
Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij
Abbreviation SGP
Leader Kees van der Staaij
Chairman Adri van Heteren
Leader in the Senate Peter Schalk
Leader in the House of Representatives Kees van der Staaij
Leader in the European Parliament Bas Belder
Founded 24 April 1918
Split from Anti Revolutionary Party
Headquarters Burgemeester van Reenensingel 101 Gouda
Youth wing Reformed Political Party Youth
Thinktank Guido de Brès-Foundation
Ideology Christian right[1]
Social conservatism[1]
Political position Right-wing[2][3]
Religion Calvinism,
European affiliation European Christian Political Movement
European Parliament group European Conservatives and Reformists
Colours Blue and Orange
Seats in the Senate
2 / 75
Seats in the House of Representatives
3 / 150
14 / 570
Seats in the European Parliament
1 / 26
(Offline on Sunday)

The Reformed Political Party (Dutch: Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij, SGP) is an orthodox Protestant Calvinist and theocratic political party in the Netherlands.[4][5][6][7] The term Reformed is not a reference to political reform, but is a synonym for Calvinism. The SGP is the oldest political party in the Netherlands in its current form, and has for its entire existence been in opposition. The party has, owing to its orthodox political ideals and its refusal to cooperate in any cabinet, been called a testimonial party.

Party history


The SGP was founded on 24 April 1918, by several conservative members of the Protestant Anti Revolutionary Party (ARP). They did not support the female suffrage, which the ARP had made possible. Furthermore, they were against the alliance the ARP had formed with the General League of Roman Catholic Caucuses. The party entered in the 1918 general elections, but was unable to win any seats. The leading figure in the party's foundation was Yerseke minister Gerrit Hendrik Kersten.


In the 1922 election the party entered Parliament. In this period the SGP became most noted for proposing to abolish the Dutch representation at the Holy See during each annual parliamentary debate on the budget of the ministry of foreign affairs. Each year the Protestant Christian Historical Union (CHU) voted in favour. The CHU was in cabinet with the Catholic General League, but many of its members and supporters still had strong feelings against the Catholic Church. In 1925 the left-wing opposition composed of the Free-thinking Democratic League and Social Democratic Workers' Party voted in favour of the motion. They were indifferent to the representation at the Holy See, but saw this as a possibility to divide the confessional cabinet. And indeed the cabinet fell over this issue, in what is known as the Nacht van Kersten (Night of Kersten).

In the subsequent elections, the party won one seat, and in the 1929 election the party won another. It remained stable in the 1933 elections but lost one seat in the 1937 elections in which ARP prime minister Hendrikus Colijn performed particularly well. During the Second World War, Kersten cooperated with the Nazi occupiers to allow his paper, the Banier, to be printed. He also condemned the resistance, saying the Nazi invasion was divine retribution for desecrating the Lord's Day. After the war, he was branded a collaborator and permanently stripped of his seat in the House of Representatives.


Kees van der Staaij, current member of parliament and party leader

Kersten was succeeded by Pieter Zandt, under whose leadership the SGP was very stable, continually getting 2% of votes. In 1956 the SGP profited from the enlargement of parliament, and it got a seat in the Senate, which the party lost in 1960, but regained in 1971. In 1961 Zandt died and was succeeded by engineer Cor van Dis sr. After ten years he stood down in favour of minister Hette Abma, who also stepped down after ten years, in favour of engineer Henk van Rossum. At the 1984 European Parliament election the SGP joined the two other orthodox Protestant parties Reformatory Political Federation (RPF) and the Reformed Political League (GPV) in order to gain one seat in the European Parliament, it was taken by SGP engineer Van der Waal. In 1986 Van Rossum was succeeded by Bas van der Vlies, who led the party till March 2010, when he was succeeded by Kees van der Staaij. In 1994 the party lost one seat in parliament, which it regained in 1998 but lost again in 2002. After the general election of 2003, the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) held talks with the SGP — the first time in recent history that the SGP was seriously considered as a possible coalition partner. Ultimately, the Democrats 66 joined the Second Balkenende cabinet instead of the SGP, mostly because of the ideological differences between VVD and SGP.

On 7 September 2005 the district court of The Hague judged that the party could no longer receive subsidies from the government, because women were not allowed to hold positions in the party. This was found to be a violation of the 1981 UN Treaty on Women in which the Netherlands committed to fighting discrimination. It also was a violation of the first article of the Dutch constitution, the principle of non-discrimination. The Dutch Council of State overturned the decision nevertheless, maintaining that a party's political philosophy takes precedence, and that women have the opportunity to join other political parties where they can obtain a leadership role.[8]

Female members of the Reformed Political Party Youth (SGPJ), which does allow female membership, said however that they did not feel discriminated or repressed. During a party congress on 24 June 2006, the SGP lifted the ban on female membership. Political positions inside and outside the party are open to women. On 19 March 2014, the first female SGP delegate was elected to the Vlissingen municipal council.[9]

Ideology and issues

SGP Jongeren

As a radical Protestant conservative party, the SGP draws much from its ideology from the reformed tradition, specifically the ecclesiastical doctrinal standards known as the Three Forms of Unity, including an unamended version of the Belgic Confession (Nederlandse Geloofsbelijdenis). The latter text is explicitly mentioned in the first principle of the party,[10] where it is stated that the SGP strives towards a government totally based on the Bible. This first principle also states that the uncut version of the Belgic Confession is meant, which adds the task of opposing anti-Christian powers to the description of the government's roles and tasks.[11] The party is a strict defender of the separation between church and state,[12] rejecting "both the state church and church state". Both church and state are believed to have distinct roles in society, while working towards the same goal, but despite this, the SGP advocates theocracy.[13] The SGP opposes freedom of religion, but advocates freedom of conscience instead, noting that "obedience to the law of God cannot be forced".[14]

The SGP opposes feminism, and concludes, on Biblical grounds, that men and women are of equal value (gelijkwaardig) but not equal (gelijk).[15] Men and women, so the party claims, have different places in society. This belief led to restricting party membership to men until 2006, when this restriction became subject to controversy[16] and was eventually removed.[17] It has traditionally opposed universal suffrage, seeking to replace this with a form of "organic suffrage" (Dutch: huismanskiesrecht, "suffrage of the pater familias") restricted to male heads of households.[18]

In controversial discussions in the Dutch House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer), the SGP often stresses the importance of the rule of law, parliamentary procedure and rules of order, regardless of ideological agreement. The party favours the re-introduction of the death penalty in the Netherlands. They base this on the Bible, specifically on Genesis 9:6, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man," and Exodus 21:12, "He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death."

Electoral results

Election year House of Representatives Government Notes
# of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
1977 177,010 2.1 (#5)
3 / 150
Increase 1 in opposition
1981 171,324 2.0 (#7)
3 / 150
Steady in opposition
1982 156,636 1.9 (#6)
3 / 150
Steady in opposition
1986 159,740 1.7 (#5)
3 / 150
Steady in opposition
1989 166,082 1.9 (#6)
3 / 150
Steady in opposition
1994 155,251 1.7 (#9)
2 / 150
Decrease 1 in opposition
1998 153,583 1.8 (#8)
3 / 150
Increase 1 in opposition
2002 163,562 1.7 (#9)
2 / 150
Decrease 1 in opposition
2003 150,305 1.6 (#9)
2 / 150
Steady in opposition
2006 153,266 1.6 (#10)
2 / 150
Steady in opposition
2010 163,581 1.7 (#9)
2 / 150
Steady in opposition
2012 196,780 2.1 (#9)
3 / 150
Increase 1 in opposition

This is a list of representations of Reformed Political Party in the Dutch parliament, as well as the provincial, municipal and European elections. The party's lijsttrekker has been the same as the fractievoorzitter (parliamentary group leader) of that year in every election.

Federal leaders

Shown by default in chronological order of leadership
Year Name Period Time in office Deputy leader/s
1922 Gerrit Kersten 1922 – 1939 17 years
1945 Pieter Zandt 1945 – 1961 16 years
1961 Cor van Dis sr 1961 – 1971 10 years
1971 Hette Abma 1971 – 1981 10 years
1981 Henk van Rossum 1981 – 1986 5 years
1986 Bas van der Vlies 1986 – 2010 24 years
2010 Kees van der Staaij 2010 – present 5 or 6 years
* in combined ChristianUnion/SGP parliamentary parties (estimated).
In 2007, the total number of seats for election in the provincial elections was reduced. Proportionally, the party went from 2,51% to 2,39% in that year, and the combined list from 0,77% to 0,88%.

House of Representatives

Since the 2012 elections the party has had three representatives in the House of Representatives:


Since the 2015 Senate elections, the party has had two representatives in the Senate:

European Parliament

Since the 1984 European Parliament election the party has one elected representative in the European Parliament. From 1984 to 1997 Leen van der Waal was the representative, from 1999 until now Bas Belder is the party's representative. In the European elections, the SGP formed one parliamentary party with the ChristianUnion, called ChristenUnion-SGP. It was part of the Independence/Democracy (Ind/Dem) European parliamentary group. Following the results of the 2009 European Parliament elections, the Ind/Dem group was disbanded, and the SGP joined the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) European parliamentary group. After the 2014 European Parliament elections, the SGP left the EFD and joined the ChristianUnion in the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group:[19]

Municipal and provincial government

Provincial government

In provincial governments, the party participates in the Zeeland provincial executive.[20] There, the party is the strongest, with over 10% of the vote. It has 12 members of provincial legislature.

The table below shows the election results of the 2011 provincial election in each province. It shows the areas where the Reformed Political Party is strong, namely in the Dutch bible belt: a band from Zeeland, via parts of South Holland and Utrecht, Gelderland to Overijssel.

Province Votes (%) Result (seats)
Drenthe ? 0
Flevoland ? 1
Friesland* ? 0
Gelderland ? 2
Groningen ? 0
Limburg ? 0
North Brabant* ? 0
North Holland* ? 0
Overijssel ? 2
South Holland ? 2
Utrecht ? 1
Zeeland ? 4

* result of combined ChristianUnion/SGP lists. ** members of the SGP (estimate) in combined ChristianUnion/SGP parliamentary parties.

Municipal government

5 of the 414 mayors of the Netherlands are members of the SGP,[21] and the party participates in several local executives, usually in municipalities located within the Dutch Bible Belt. The party has 40 aldermen and 244 members of local legislature. In many municipalities where the SGP is weaker, it cooperates with the ChristenUnie, presenting common lists.


Areas where the Political Reformed Party received a significant amount of votes in 2003, largely coextensive with the Dutch Bible Belt.

The SGP has a very stable electorate, varying between 2 and 3 seats. The party has been called “an almost perfect illustration of Duverger's category of “fossilized" minor party."[22] Most of its electorate is formed by so-called "bevindelijk gereformeerden", Reformed Christians for whom personal religious experience is very important. This group is formed by several smaller churches such as the Christian Reformed Churches, Reformed Congregations, Restored Reformed Church, and Old-Reformed Congregations in the Netherlands, as well as the conservative wing of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, the Reformed Association. However, not all members of these churches / church wings vote SGP.

The SGP's support is concentrated geographically in the Dutch bible belt, a band of strongly Reformed municipalities ranging from Zeeland in the South via Goeree-Overflakkee and the Alblasserwaard in South Holland and the Veluwe in Gelderland to the Western part of Overijssel, around Staphorst. The SGP is also very strong on the former island Urk. The party scored absolute majorities in the several villages in Uddel, even 65.2% of the vote.


Organizational structure

The highest organ of the SGP is the congress, which is formed by delegates from the municipal branches. It convenes once every year. It appoints the party board and decides the order of the Senate, House of Representatives, European Parliament candidates list and has the last say over the party program. The SGP chairman is always a minister. Since 2001 this position is ceremonial, as the general chair leads the party's organization.

The party has 245 municipal branches and has a provincial federation in each province, except for Limburg.

Linked organisations

The party publishes the Banner two-weekly since 1921. The scientific institute of the party is called the Guido de Brès-foundation, which publishes the magazine Zicht (Sight). The youth organisation of the SGP is called the Reformed Political Party Youth (SGPJ), which with its approximately 12,000 members is the largest political youth organization in the Netherlands.

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

Pillarized organisations

The SGP still has close links with several other orthodox Protestant organizations, such as several reformed churches and the newspaper Reformatorisch Dagblad. Together they form a small but strong orthodox-reformed pillar.

Relationships to other parties

Until 1963 the SGP was relatively isolated in parliament. The strongly antipapal SGP refused to cooperate with Catholic People's Party or the secularists (the conservative-liberal VVD and the social-democratic PvdA). The larger Protestant ARP had some sympathy for the party, but cooperated tightly with the KVP and the Protestant CHU. In 1963 another orthodox Protestant party, the GPV entered parliament, in 1981 they were joined by the RPF. Together these three parties formed the "Small Christian parties". They shared the same orthodox Protestant political ideals and had the same political strategy, as testimonial parties. They cooperated in municipalities, both in municipal executives, where the parties were strong, as well as in common municipal parties, where the parties were weak. In the 1984 European election the parties presented a common list and they won one seat in parliament. After 1993 the cooperation between the GPV and the RPF intensified, but the SGP's position at the time on female suffrage prevented the SGP joining this closer cooperation. However, in 2000 the GPV and RPF fused to form the ChristianUnion (CU). Traditionally the SGP and the CU worked together closely as they were both based on Protestant Christian politics. Recently however, as the CU has moved more towards the centre-left, discernible differences of philosophy between the SGP and CU have caused the parties to join together in elections. The most notable example was the 2011 senate election where the SGP and CU did not combine their votes.[23]

Prime Minister Mark Rutte's first government depended on the SGP's support in the Senate to pass legislation where it fell one seat short of a majority in the 2011 election.[24] As a result, the party was able to achieve a number of its own political objectives: continuing child support for larger families,[25] and restricting business hours on Sundays.[26]


  1. 1 2 3 Nordsieck, Wolfram. "Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe". EU: Parties & elections. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  2. "Far-right MEPs form group in European Parliament". EurActiv. 2009-07-02. Retrieved 2014-03-20.
  3. Score 8.0/10 in 2003 Chapel Hill expert survey, see Hooghe et al. (2003) Chapel Hill Survey
  4. These sources describe the SGP as a Calvinist political party:
  5. Wijbrandt van Schuur; Gerrit Voerman (2010). "Democracy in Retreat? Decline in Political Party Membership: The Case of the Netherlands". In Barbara Wejnert. Democratic Paths and Trends. Emerald. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-85724-091-0. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  6. Jean-Yves Camus (2013). "The european extreme right and religious extremism". In Andrea Mammone; Emmanuel Godin; Brian Jenkins. Varieties of Right-Wing Extremism in Europe. Routledge. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-136-16751-5.
  7. Fieret (1990, De Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij 1918–1948, Ph. D. thesis, cited by Dölle, p. 120) considers "bibliocratic" to be a more apt description of the party's stance.
  8. "SGP will get subsidy after all". Expatica. 5 December 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  9. "SGP-vrouw komt in raad Vlissingen". NOS. Retrieved 2014-03-20.
  10. SGP 2003, p. 11.
  11. SGP 2003, p. 16.
  12. SGP 2003, p. 17.
  13. Dölle 2005, p. 104.
  14. SGP 2003.
  15. SGP 2003, p. 37.
  16. "Party penalised for woman snub". BBC. 7 September 2005. Retrieved 25 November 2007.
  17. Davies 2006.
  18. Lucardie, Paul (2000). Right-Wing Extremism in the Netherlands: Why it is still a marginal phenomenon (PDF). Symp. Right-Wing Extremism in Europe.
  19. "Belder in ECR". 2014-06-16. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  20. College van Gedeputeerde Staten van Zeeland. "Nieuwe Verbindingen" (PDF) (in Dutch). Provincie Zeeland. Retrieved 14 October 2007.
  21. "Landelijk overzicht burgemeestersposten" (in Dutch). Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 14 October 2007.
  22. Bone, Robert C (Feb 1962), "The Dynamics of Dutch Politics", The Journal of Politics, 24 (1): 43
  23. "ChristenUnie en SGP lastig door één deur". Nieuwslijn Magazine. 26 May 2011. Radio Netherlands Worldwide. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  24. "Netherlands: Caught between Geert Wilders and holy joes". EU: Presseurop. 2011-05-24. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  25. "Dutch government U-turn on child benefit". Radio Netherlands Worldwide. 2011-09-19. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  26. "Press Review". Radio Netherlands Worldwide. 22 April 2011. Retrieved 2013-08-28.


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