CDA party founder Piet Steenkamp dead at 90

Piet Steenkamp
Piet Steenkamp, June 18, 1971. (photo: Eric Koch / Anefo / Nationaal Archief / Collectie SPAARNESTAD PHOTO). Piet Steenkamp, June 18, 1971. (photo: Eric Koch / Anefo / Nationaal Archief / Collectie SPAARNESTAD PHOTO)

Longtime Dutch politician Piet Steenkamp died on Friday at the age of 90. He is credited with founding the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) political party, serving as chairman at the very beginning of its development in 1973 through its formal establishment in 1980.

The CDA withheld news of Steenkamp’s death until Tuesday, when a closed-door funeral was completed. It is the second recent major loss of a party elder for the CDA, whose first-ever leader in the Lower House of Parliament, .

Steenkamp is considered the architect of the complex merger agreement between three different Christian parties that created the CDA. “He can rightfully be called the founder and spiritual father of the CDA. With his idealism, persevereance and unifying personality, he worked tirelessly towards the development of the CDA in 1980,” a party spokesman told Nu.nl.

“His commitment was definitive for the formation of the CDA from [former parties] ARP, CHU and KVP,” current CDA Lower House leader Sybrand Buma said of Steenkamp. Since its inception, the CDA has held the prime minister’s job and been a partner in 11 of 14 coalition governments. “He has thus been of enormous significance for the entirety of Dutch politics,” Buma added.

“His warm involvement until late in life has had a huge impact on me.”

Steenkamp served in the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Upper House, from 1965 to 1999, and was its chairman from 1983 to 1991. He was also named the CDA’s honorary chairman, and remained active with the party throughout his life.

“His commitment to the public good and the CDA was tireless,” said current party chair Ruth Peetoom. “We will miss him dearly.”

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