Catholic Power in the Netherlands

Catholic Power in the Netherlands

Herman Bakvis
Copyright Date: 1981
Pages: 255
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  • Book Info
    Catholic Power in the Netherlands
    Book Description:

    This book examines the role of the Dutch Catholic church, and especially of the bishops, in ensuring the solidarity of the Catholic subculture for so many years and, more remarkably, in promoting drastic social and political changes after Vatican II. This development transformed one of the most orthodox churches in Western Europe into the most radical and, as Professor Bakvis demonstrates, led to the decline and fall of the largest political party in the Netherlands. The author also discusses the recent formulation of the Christian Democratic party and the impact of John Paul II's pontificate. He has drawn upon interviews with priests and politicians, as well as survey and ecological data, in his portrayal of life inside the Catholic subculture at both the grass-roots and the elite levels. The result is a substantial contribution to our understanding of the interaction of religion and politics in a plural society and the sources of party loyalty and subcultural cohesion.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6077-2
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Figures
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  6. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    The Catholic party* in the Netherlands is unique. From the end of World War I to the mid-1960s, it captured the votes of almost all eligible Catholics—a feat replicated by no other Catholic or Christian Democratic party in Europe.¹ Then a decline set in. By 1972 the party had lost the majority of its supporters. And in the autumn of 1980, the Catholic party—at one time the largest and most important party in the Netherlands, the key element in what Arend Lijphart has called the “politics of elite accommodation”²—formally ceased to exist.

    How are we to account...

  7. Chapter 2 The Dutch Catholic Community: Ethnicity, Ideology, Organization, and Clientele
    (pp. 10-57)

    Several writers on West European politics have stressed the importance of subcultures as factors in structuring political behaviour.¹ In what ways are subcultures important? How did they come to play such a role? In the Netherlands the authorities of the Roman Catholic church and lay Catholic leaders were largely responsible for the creation of a highly insular and cohesive miniature society involving virtually all Catholics residing within the Netherlands and imposing a high degree of conformity upon them. Prior to the changes within the church in the 1960s, Dutch Catholics rigorously followed prescribed norms of behaviour. Interfaith marriages were rare.²...

  8. Chapter 3 Dutch Catholic Politics
    (pp. 58-96)

    One obvious answer to the question of why the vast majority of Dutch Catholics voted for the Catholic party up to and including 1963 is that the institutionalized elements of the Catholic subculture such as the church hierarchy, the clergy, and various lay organizations maintained a high degree of control over the behaviour of Catholics, thereby ensuring a solid basis of support for the party. Yet such an interpretation by itself would be inadequate. The Catholic party, like the Catholic Broadcasting Organization (kro) and Catholic trade unions, could not rely solely on the authority of the church. There had to...

  9. Chapter 4 The Theological Revolt and Changes in the Catholic Community
    (pp. 97-132)

    Without the authority of the church the Catholic party would not have enjoyed such a high level of support among Catholics in the Netherlands. And without the intervention of the church the Catholic party itself would have been rent asunder. The emphasis on unity among Catholics in both social and political life was maintained largely at the behest of the ecclesiastical hierarchy who could rely on a willing and able clergy to help foster appropriate expectations and, if necessary, apply the necessary sanctions.

    Yet in the 1960s a number of remarkable changes occurred in Dutch Catholicism, changes initiated by the...

  10. Chapter 5 The Catholic Party: Decline and Fall, 1963–1980
    (pp. 133-173)

    In 1963 the Dutch Catholic party (kvp) received over 84 per cent of the Catholic vote. In 1967 its share dropped to 63 per cent and by 1972 it was down to 38 per cent. In 1976 the use of the party label for electioneering purposes ceased when the kvp federated with the two major Protestant parties to form the Christian Democratic Appeal (cda). In 1980 the three parties completely merged. What accounted for the decline in kvp support, particularly in view of the relative stable support for Catholic institutions such as the educational system and the broadcasting organization (kro)?¹...

  11. Chapter 6 Conclusion: Political Change and the Future of Catholic Power
    (pp. 174-186)

    This study began by asking some questions about the unusual electoral behaviour of Catholics in the Netherlands. Why did 85 per cent or more of Dutch Catholics regularly vote for the Catholic party and why did this level of support suddenly start to decline in the 1960s and 1970s? It was noted that this pattern of electoral stability and electoral decline was unique in Western Europe. In seeking an explanation for such behaviour it was decided that the concept of party identification, which emphasizes individual attachments to political parties, would be unsuitable in the European context. Most of the literature...

  12. Appendix I Interview Procedures
    (pp. 187-188)
  13. Appendix II Aggregate Data and the Catholic Vote
    (pp. 189-190)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 191-218)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 219-232)
  16. Index
    (pp. 233-240)