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Fraser Duncan, "'Lately, Things Just Don't Seem the Same': External Shocks, Party Change and the Adaptation of the Dutch Christian Democrats during 'Purple Hague' 1994-8," Party Politics, 13 (January 2007), 69-87

First Paragraph:
In the 1994 election to the Dutch parliament (Tweede Kamer), the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) experienced the worst ever result suffered by a major party in national elections in The Netherlands. Since its formation, the party had been an integral component in any coalition, with a grip on the office of chief executive since 1977. Indeed, the party's confessional predecessors had been a key part of coalitions since the introduction of universal suffrage, with Catholic representatives involved in every government since 1918. However, in 1994 the CDA lost over a third of its seats as the Labour Party (PvdA) became the largest party despite its own electoral haemorrhage. The Christian Democratic trauma did not end on election night. After roughly three and a half months of negotiations, a historic coalition was formed by the PvdA, the conservative liberals (VVD) and the progressive liberals (D66), with PvdA leader Wim Kok as prime minister. This 'purple' government, named after its mix of red (PvdA) and blue (VVD), brought together secular liberals and social democrats after decades of mutual antipathy. This 'coalition of the French Revolution'1 ensured that for the first time since the introduction of universal suffrage, no Christian Democratic or confessional party was represented in the executive.

Figures and Tables:
None.

First Paragraph of Conclusion:
The case of the CDA therefore only gives partial support to the Harmel and Janda model. To account for programmatic revision requires at the very least refinements to their framework. Even where a party experiences a disastrous shock which undermines a fundamental part of its selfconception, its common body of beliefs can remain essentially untouched. The relative lack of programmatic revision suggests that the Harmel and Janda contention that external shocks are likely to result in party change may not be sufficient by itself to explain the behaviour of parties confronted by a sudden, profound failure to achieve party goals, and that secondary goal priorities together with specific party histories and party system format must also be taken into account.

last updated February 2007