Small conservative Christian political parties are finding new appeal in the Netherlands among those seeking to counter Islamic influence in the country, according to Dutch political scientist Hans J.P. Vollaard.
In an article in the journal Politics and Religion (No. 6), Vollaard notes that such parties as the Christian Democratic Appeal were founded by conservative Calvinists as an attempt to fight secularism and reinsert religion into the public sphere, even trying to make common cause with Muslims. But in recent years concern about Muslims and Islamic influence in Dutch society has figured more highly in the discourse of these parties, including the highly Calvinistic Political Reformed Party, drawing more secular Dutch concerned with issues such as civil liberties.
These parties have attracted few Catholic or immigrant Christian voters (who are becoming a majority among Christians in the Netherlands), who often support secular, left-wing parties. But these parties’ stress on the Christian roots of the Netherlands has gained some traction even with secular parties. Today references to the “Judeo-Christian” roots of the nation are heard in the secular and anti-Islamic Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, even if they are framed by concerns about individual freedom, tolerance, and the separation of church and state.
Vollaard concludes that the Dutch case “illustrated how Christianity re-emerges in politics through the cultural defense mechanism, not only among Christian but also secular parties.” This trend is evident in other European countries where “the challenge of Islam also incentivized secular parties to start propagating the (Judeo)-Christian heritage of Europe and its nations.”