Between 1948 and 1952 the VVD took part in the broad cabinets led by the social-democrat Willem Drees. The party was a junior partner with only eight seats to the Catholic People's Party (KVP) and social-democratic PvdA, which both had around thirty seats. The party's leadership was in the hands of the respected former PvdA member Oud. The Drees cabinet laid the foundation for the welfare state and decolonization of the Dutch Indies. In the 1952 elections the VVD gained one seat, but did not join government. They were rewarded for their opposition in the 1956 elections, receiving thirteen seats. But they were still kept out of government until the 1959 elections, which were held early because of cabinet crisis. They earned nineteen seats and the party entered government together with the Protestant Anti Revolutionary Party (ARP) and Christian Historical Union (CHU) and the Catholic KVP.
In 1963 Oud left politics, and he was succeeded by the minister of Home Affairs Edzo Toxopeus. Toxopeus lost three seats in the 1963 elections, but the VVD remained in government. Meanwhile internal debate developed. In 1962 some progressive VVD members founded the Liberal Democratic Centre (Liberaal Democratisch Centrum; LDC) which was supposed to moved the VVD in a more progressive direction. In 1966 many of the LDC-members left the VVD and joined the newly founded social-liberal party Democrats 66 (D66). In 1966 there was a conflict between the VVD-ministers and their Christian-democratic counterparts. The cabinet fell and without elections it was replaced by the social-democratic/Christian-democratic cabinet-Cals, which fell after a few months. In the following 1967 elections the VVD remained relatively stable and entered the Cabinet-de Jong.
During this period the VVD had weak ties with other liberal organization and together they formed the neutral pillar. This included the liberal papers Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant and the Algemeen Handelsblad, the broadcaster AVRO and the employers' organization VNO.
In the 1981 elections the VVD lost two seats and its partner the CDA lost even more. The cabinet was without a majority and a CDA/PvdA/D66 cabinet was formed, which fell after a few months. In 1982 Hans Wiegel left politics to become Queen's Commissioner in Friesland, he was succeeded by Ed Nijpels. In the 1982 elections Nijpels' VVD won ten seats, bringing its total up to 36. In entered government with the CDA again under CDA-leader Ruud Lubbers. The cabinet began a program of radical reform of the welfare state, which is still implemented today. The VVD lost nine seats in the 1986 elections but the cabinet nonetheless retained its majority. This was blamed on the person of Nijpels, who stood down as leader of the VVD. He was succeeded by Joris Voorhoeve. In 1989 the CDA/VVD cabinet fell over a minor point. In the subsequent elections the VVD lost five seats, leaving only twenty-two. The VVD was kept out of government. Voorhoeve was replaced by the charismatic intellectual Frits Bolkestein.
In the heavily polarized 2002 elections, dominated by the rise of Pim Fortuyn, the VVD lost fourteen seats, leaving only twenty-four. The VVD nonetheless entered a cabinet with the CDA and the Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF). Dijkstal stood down, and was replaced by the popular former minister of finance Gerrit Zalm. After a few months Zalm "pulled the plug" out of the VVD/CDA/LPF-cabinet, after the infighting of LPF ministers Bomhoff and Heinsbroek.
In the 2003 elections the VVD won only four seats, making a total of twenty-eight. The party expected to do much better, having adopted most of Fortuyn's proposals on immigration and integration. The VVD unwillingly entered the VVD/CDA/D66-cabinet with Zalm returning to the ministry of Finance. He was replaced as partyleader by Jozias van Aartsen, former foreign minister. On September 2, 2004, VVD MP Geert Wilders left the party after a dispute with parliamentary chairman Van Aartsen. He has chosen to continue as an independent in the Tweede Kamer.
In 2006 the party lost a considerable number of seats in the municipal elections, prompting parliamentary leader Jozias van Aartsen to step down. Willibrord van Beek was subsequently appointed parliamentary leader ad interim. In the subsequent party leadership run-off Mark Rutte was elected as the leader, beating Rita Verdonk and Jelleke Veenendaal.
The 2006 election campaign did not start of well, top candidate Mark Rutte was criticized by his own parliamentary party for being invisible in the campaign, and unable to break the attention away from the duel between current christian-democratic prime-minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Wouter Bos of the Labour Party. However, the VVD's campaign started relatively late. The election polls show a loss for the VVD; old VVD deputy prime-minster Hans Wiegel blamed a poorly ran VVD campaign for this, caused by the heavily contested VVD leadership run-off between Mark Rutte and Rita Verdonk earlier in the year. Verdonk has her eyes on the deputy-minister post, while cabinet posts are normally decided upon by the political leader of the VVD, Mark Rutte. On election day, the party received a vote total enough for twenty-two seats, a loss of six seats. When the official election results were announced on Monday 27 November, 2006, preferential votes became known as well, showing that second candidate on the list Rita Verdonk obtained more votes than the VVD's top candidate, Mark Rutte. Rutte received 553,200 votes, Verdonk 620,555. This lead Verdonk to call for a party commission that would investigate the party leadership position, as consequence of the situation of her obtaining more votes in the general election than Rutte, creating a shortly-lived crisis in the party. A crisis was averted when Rutte called for an ultimatum on his leadership, which Verdonk had reconcile to, by rejecting her proposal for a party commission. During 2007, signs of VVD infighting continued to play in the media. In June 2007, former VVD minister Dekker presented a report on the previous elections, showing that the VVD lacked clear leadership roles, however the report also not singled out someone in particular for the party's losses.
After Verdonk renewed her criticism of the party in September 2007, she was expelled from the parliamentary faction, and subsequently relinquished her membership, after reconciliation attempts proved futile. Verdonk started her own political movement, Trots op Nederland, subsequently. In opinion polls held after Verdonk's exit, the VVD is set to lose close to ten parliamentary seats in elections.
Jan van Zanen, chairman of the VVD's party board, announced in November 2007 that he would step down in May 2008, a year before his term would end. The rest of the board also announced that they would step down. On the same day of his announcement, honorary member Hans Wiegel called for the resignation of the board, because they could not keep Verdonk for the party. Wiegel also opinioned that the VVD should become part of a larger liberal movement, that would encompass the social liberals D66, the Party for Freedom of Geert Wilders and Rita Verdonk's Trots op Nederland movement, although he found little resonance for this ideas from others.
In 2008, the VVD chose a new party chairman, Ivo Opstelten, the outgoing mayor of Rotterdam. Mark Rutte has also announced at the celebration of the party's sixth decennial that he will rewrite the foundational program of the party that was enacted in the early 1980s, and offer the new principles for consideration to the party's members in a fall congress.
The most important principle for the VVD has always been individual freedom.
The principles of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) are outlined in the Liberal Manifesto ("Liberaal Manifest") and the election programs. The Liberal Manifesto is a general outlook on the direction of the party, and is an expansion of the party's foundational principles. The election programs are more oriented to practical politics.
|1948||8||3||n/a||37||Pieter Oud||Pieter Oud||Dirk Stikker||22175||Pieter Oud|
|1949||8||3||n/a||37||no elections||Pieter Oud||Dirk Stikker||21771||Pieter Oud|
|1950||8||3||n/a||49||no elections||Pieter Oud||Dirk Stikker||21271||Pieter Oud|
|1951||8||4||n/a||49||no elections||Pieter Oud||Dirk Stikker||26777||Pieter Oud|
|1952||9||4||n/a||49||Pieter Oud||Pieter Oud||opposition||30000||Pieter Oud|
|1953||9||4||n/a||49||no elections||Pieter Oud||opposition||35000||Pieter Oud|
|1954||9||4||n/a||50||no elections||Pieter Oud||opposition||30000||Pieter Oud|
|1955||9||4||n/a||50||no elections||Pieter Oud||opposition||unknown||Pieter Oud|
|1956||13||7||n/a||50||Pieter Oud||Pieter Oud||opposition||unknown||Pieter Oud|
|1957||13||7||n/a||50||no elections||Pieter Oud||opposition||unknown||Pieter Oud|
|1958||13||7||n/a||63||no elections||Pieter Oud||opposition||unknown||Pieter Oud|
|1959||19||7||n/a||63||Pieter Oud||Pieter Oud||Henk Korthals||35000||Pieter Oud|
|1960||19||8||n/a||63||no elections||Pieter Oud||Henk Korthals||unknown||Pieter Oud|
|1961||19||8||n/a||63||no elections||Pieter Oud||Henk Korthals||unknown||Pieter Oud|
|1962||19||8||n/a||64||no elections||Pieter Oud||Henk Korthals||unknown||Pieter Oud|
|1963||16||7||n/a||64||Edzo Toxopeus||Willem Geertsema||Edzo Toxopeus||30000||Pieter Oud|
|1964||16||7||n/a||64||no elections||Willem Geertsema||Edzo Toxopeus||unknown||K. van der Pols|
|1965||16||7||n/a||64||no elections||Edzo Toxopeus||opposition||30000||K. van der Pols|
|1966||16||8||n/a||65||no elections||Edzo Toxopeus||opposition||35000||K. van der Pols|
|1967||17||8||n/a||65||Edzo Toxopeus||Edzo Toxopeus||H. Johannes Witteveen||unknown||K. van der Pols|
|1968||17||8||n/a||65||no elections||Edzo Toxopeus||H. Johannes Witteveen||35000||K. van der Pols|
|1969||17||8||n/a||65||no elections||Willem Geertsema||H. Johannes Witteveen||unknown||Haya van Someren|
|1970||17||8||n/a||80||no elections||Willem Geertsema||H. Johannes Witteveen||38000||Haya van Someren|
|1971||16||8||n/a||80||Willem Geertsema||Hans Wiegel||Willem Geertsema||unknown||Haya van Someren|
|1972||22||8||n/a||80||Hans Wiegel||Hans Wiegel||Willem Geertsema||41536||Haya van Someren|
|1973||22||8||n/a||80||no elections||Hans Wiegel||opposition||68414||Haya van Someren|
|1974||22||12||n/a||131||no elections||Hans Wiegel||opposition||78759||Haya van Someren|
|1975||22||12||n/a||131||no elections||Hans Wiegel||opposition||82831||Frits Korthals Altes|
|1976||22||12||n/a||131||no elections||Hans Wiegel||opposition||87751||Frits Korthals Altes|
|1977||28||15||n/a||131||Hans Wiegel||Koos Rietkerk||Hans Wiegel||97396||Frits Korthals Altes|
|1978||28||15||n/a||118||no elections||Koos Rietkerk||Hans Wiegel||100510||Frits Korthals Altes|
|1979||28||15||4||118||no elections||Koos Rietkerk||Hans Wiegel||92341||Frits Korthals Altes|
|1980||28||13||4||118||no elections||Koos Rietkerk||Hans Wiegel||85881||Frits Korthals Altes|
|1981||26||12||4||118||Hans Wiegel||Hans Wiegel||opposition||92830||J. Kamminga|
|1982||36||12||4||157||Ed Nijpels||Ed Nijpels||Gijs van Aardenne||102888||J. Kamminga|
|1983||36||17||4||157||no elections||Ed Nijpels||Gijs van Aardenne||95528||J. Kamminga|
|1984||36||17||5||157||no elections||Ed Nijpels||Gijs van Aardenne||89120||J. Kamminga|
|1985||36||17||5||157||no elections||Ed Nijpels||Gijs van Aardenne||86821||J. Kamminga|
|1986||27||16||5||157||Ed Nijpels||Joris Voorhoeve||Rudolf de Korte||84617||J. Kamminga|
|1987||27||12||5||112||no elections||Joris Voorhoeve||Rudolf de Korte||76282||L. Ginjaar|
|1988||27||12||5||112||no elections||Joris Voorhoeve||Rudolf de Korte||68735||L. Ginjaar|
|1989||22||12||3||112||Joris Voorhoeve||Joris Voorhoeve||opposition||64554||L. Ginjaar|
|1990||22||12||3||112||no elections||Frits Bolkestein||opposition||59074||L. Ginjaar|
|1991||22||12||3||116||no elections||Frits Bolkestein||opposition||55654||L. Ginjaar|
|1992||22||12||3||116||no elections||Frits Bolkestein||opposition||53755||E.J.J.E. van Leeuwen-Schut|
|1993||22||12||3||116||no elections||Frits Bolkestein||opposition||53390||E.J.J.E. van Leeuwen-Schut|
|1994||31||12||6||116||Frits Bolkestein||Frits Bolkestein||Hans Dijkstal||53465||W.K. Hoekzema|
|1995||31||23||6||207||no elections||Frits Bolkestein||Hans Dijkstal||53465||W.K. Hoekzema|
|1996||31||23||6||207||no elections||Frits Bolkestein||Hans Dijkstal||52355||W.K. Hoekzema|
|1997||31||23||6||207||no elections||Frits Bolkestein||Hans Dijkstal||52197||W.K. Hoekzema|
|1998||38||23||6||207||Frits Bolkestein||Hans Dijkstal||Annemarie Jorritsma||51585||W.K. Hoekzema|
|1999||38||19||6||182||no elections||Hans Dijkstal||Annemarie Jorritsma||48991||Bas Eenhoorn|
|2000||38||19||6||182||no elections||Hans Dijkstal||Annemarie Jorritsma||48092||Bas Eenhoorn|
|2001||38||19||6||182||no elections||Hans Dijkstal||Annemarie Jorritsma||47441||Bas Eenhoorn|
|2002||24||19||6||182||Hans Dijkstal||Gerrit Zalm||Johan Remkes||47441||Bas Eenhoorn|
|2003||28||15||6||138||Gerrit Zalm||Jozias van Aartsen||Gerrit Zalm||46391||Bas Eenhoorn|
|2004||27||15||4||138||no election||Jozias van Aartsen||Gerrit Zalm||44099||Jan van Zanen|
|2005||27||15||4||138||no election||Jozias van Aartsen||Gerrit Zalm||41861||Jan van Zanen|
|2006||27||15||4||138||Mark Rutte||Mark Rutte||Gerrit Zalm||40157||Jan van Zanen|
|2007||22||15||4||138||no election||Mark Rutte||opposition||unknown||Jan van Zanen|
(Rita Verdonk was expelled from the parliamentary faction on September 13, 2007)
VVD MEPs are part of the European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party.
In the following figure one can see the election results of the provincial election of 2003 and 2007 per province. It shows the areas where the VVD is strong, namely the Randstad urban area that consists out of the provinces North and South Holland, Utrecht and (parts of) Flevoland. The party is weak in peripheral provinces like Friesland, Overijssel, Zeeland and Limburg.
|Province||Votes 2003 (%)||Result 2003 (seats)||Votes 2007 (%)||Result 2007 (seats)|
The order of the First Chamber, Second Chamber, European Parliament candidates list is decided by a referendum under all members voting by internet, phone or mail. If contested, the lijsttrekker of a candidates lists is appointed in a separate referendum in advance. Since 2002 the General Assembly can call for a referendum on other subjects too. The present chairman of the board was elected this way.
About 90 members elected by the members in meetings of the regional branches form the Party Council, which advises the Party Board in the months that the General Assembly does not convene. This is important forum within the party. The party board handles the daily affairs of the party.
The education institute of the VVD is the Haya van Someren Foundation. The Scientific institute Prof.mr. B.M. Telders Foundation publishes the magazine Liberaal Reveil every two months. The party published the magazine Liber bi-monthly.
The VVD participates in the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, a democracy assistance organisation of seven Dutch political parties.