Ede, 1945-1995: Grew big, remained recognizable
After the Second World War, like many other municipalities in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the Western World, Ede experienced a period of rapid economic and population growth, of mobility, increase in scale, urbanization, better education, professionalization, individualization and democratization. Developments that may be summarized in the word modernization. I wondered if modernization is an exogenous process and did it more or less just happen, or is it a planned process or something in between. I decided that the best way to answer these questions was not to study the modernization process on a national level, but on a local level. There I hoped to find the answer on the question what possibilities people have to define their own community.
I choose the municipality of Ede as my case study for the next reasons. After 1945, the Ede municipal executive opted for growth: economic, population and employment growth. In 1962, the municipal executive formulated a goal to welcome its 100,000 resident by the year 2000, which represented a doubling of the population since the end of the war. Ede was to be transformed into the city of Ede. This milestone of 100,000 inhabitants was reached as early as 1996, 60,000 of whom lived in Ede town. In order to achieve this goal, action was needed on several fronts. The rapid growth achieved was not the result of a policy plan handed down by central government. Ede was not one of the designated development areas. Ede was not regarded as an underdeveloped area requiring a top- down targeted approach for accelerated industrialization and modernization. On the other hand, in 1945, Ede was still clearly a rural community and the town centre clearly showed characteristics of a village society. So the rapid growth meant changes in different policy sectors.
Ede easily attracted new residents and employment opportunities as a result of its strategic location in the middle of the Netherlands, its good infrastructure and sufficient space. What it did need, however, was the development of housing estates and industrial estates including the necessary infrastructure and the development and expansion of, for example, education facilities and leisure amenities. In a predominantly Protestant community, this raised questions about the persuasion of these types of amenities and led to debates on, if actually desirable, the type of socio-cultural policy most appropriate for local government. Rapid expansion of a community may be perceived as a threat to the characteristics of that society. This question made Ede an extra interesting subject for research. In the case of Ede it was justifiable to assume that tensions would have arisen between the rural and urban ambitions and between Christian and secular developments. The municipal authority is involved in the developments and decision-making process relating to all the elements of the public domain, which is why it was chosen as the focus for this research.
The policy decisions required in the different areas to facilitate growth are by their nature intertwined. The construction of housing estates and business premises conflict with the interests of the agricultural sector and nature conservation. The arrival of new residents can change the social, political and religious composition of the population, resulting in consequences for how society is organized and for the future local political constellation and vice versa. Every decision must take what has occurred in other areas into account and will, in turn, have consequences for adjacent domains. For these reasons a choice was made for modernization as theoretical concept. Chapter one contains a historiographical discussion of this concept and an elaboration of how this concept has been applied to this research. In line with Schuyt and Taverne, I have chosen not to provide modernization in advance with a specific interpretation by adding ‘controlled’, ‘contested’ or ‘reflexive’. For the research, four policy areas have been selected for further investigation: spatial planning, education, guest workers/migrants and leisure facilities. As an introduction to the chapters on the developments in Ede, chapter two contains a broad outline of the national developments in which the local developments took place. Subsequently, in chapter three I discuss the way in which the modernization process was made visible in the composition of the municipal executive, including its chairpersons over a period of fifty years. Politicians not only partly determine which choices are made in the modernization process, but are also subject to this process themselves both at party and individual level. In this sense, through its decisions the political establishment in no small way contributes to determining its own future and, in turn, the composition of the municipal council and executive. The choices for more or
less growth, for public-authority or private-authority schools , for providing public amenities or not, et cetera influence who will choose Ede as a place of residence and work. In this way, secularization manifests itself in changes in the population composition and the demand for specific amenities, as well as at the level of the political composition of the municipal council and the individual councillors. As a result of the population growth, by 1966 the newcomers held the majority of the seats on the council. However, the original population of Ede managed to control the executive positions for much longer. Democratization, individualization and secularization led to an increase in the number of political parties represented on the council and enhanced pluralism. Compared to politics at national level, both women’s emancipation and the professionalization of councillors clearly had a delayed start. As was the case at national level the larger parties lost ground, although the SGP (Reformed Political Party) formed an exception in Ede.
The main theme of chapter four is spatial planning. Ede has profited considerably from the migration of residents and employment opportunities from the Randstad. Ede’s central location put it in a strategic position to benefit from national developments on spatial planning. The size of the municipality ̶ Ede being one of the largest in the Netherlands ̶ , the good infrastructure and the presence of the Veluwe National Park made Ede a popular place of residence and business. This remained the case even after, from the start of the 1960s, the provincial and national governments tried to curb the drift to Ede. As a result of its many qualities, Ede was able to achieve its growth ambitions and disregard the limiting measures imposed by higher government levels. In relation to nature conservation, Ede stayed more in line because the municipal executive regarded the Veluwe National Park as one of the attractive aspects of living in Ede. In respect to agriculture, the municipal executive chose for, on the one hand, an uncompromising policy to develop housing and business premises at the expense of farmland, while, on the other hand, applying a non-interference policy for the agricultural sector and business operations. Both small farmers and the strong growth in intensive animal husbandry could count on an accommodating local government. It was the national government which, as a result of the high levels of environmental pollution, designated the Gelderland Valley as a Spatial Planning and Environment area (ensuring spatial planning was combined with the environmental aspects). This, in turn, forced the municipal authority to impose regulatory measures on the agricultural sector in its spatial planning policies.
The policy choices in relation to the educational facilities are discussed in chapter five. What is conspicuous here is the clear commitment on the part of the Christian political parties to maintain the Christian character of the education. In the 1950s, this commitment could also count on the support of the Christian councillors representing the PvdA (Labour Party). It was not until the early 1960s that all the PvdA councillors supported the VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) in its struggle
to increase the number of public-authority schools. In the meantime, Protestant Ede had managed, under the leadership of the ARP (Anti-Revolutionary Party) aldermen, to establish broad, and partly above municipality level, private-authority denominational schools. In achieving this, the ARP (Anti- Revolutionary Party) politicians were able to make use of their extensive network, which included national politicians. It was only in the early 1980s that secular Ede achieved a long-cherished goal with the opening of a public-authority neutral secondary school. The presence of a broad range of Protestant-Christian educational facilities is one of the explanations why Ede’s expansion did not lead to a drop, in percentage terms, of the Orthodox-Christian share of the vote. These parties were, however, practically always kept outside the coalition. Nevertheless, they managed to profit from the educational policies implemented by the coalition parties CHU (Christian Historical Union) and ARP (Anti-Revolutionary Party), and later by the CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal). These parties were not, however, rewarded for this policy as they were confronted with continuous and steady losses at the polls. Illustrative of this development was also the establishment in the 1970s of a number of Protestant Reformed primary schools and the establishment of a Protestant-Christian School Advisory Service in 1984. The long-term opposition to a more secular organization of society was also expressed in the opposition until the start of the 1970s to abolishing the dismissal of married teachers.
Ede’s growth did not only bring an influx of new residents from the rest of the Netherlands to the Veluwe. The shortage of unskilled workers, which continued to increase during the 1960s in the Netherlands, also resulted in the arrival of guest workers in Ede. Chapter six discusses the attitude of the political establishment towards this population group, whose stay was initially expected to be only temporary. It quickly became apparent that their unfamiliarity with our country, language, customs and laws in combination with their low wages and, for the most part, low level of education gave rise to a need for social assistance and specific facilities. The municipal executive did not, however, make use of the possibility to participate in the Migrant Workers’ Assistance Foundation that was established in Gelderland in the 1960s and in which the municipal executives of Apeldoorn and Arnhem participated. The Ede municipal executive maintained the view, as did other places in the Netherlands, that the
reception of this population group and the facilitating or provision of specific facilities was not the task of government —and most certainly not in the area of religion. In relation to this last point, the constitutional separation of church and state was invariably used as argumentation. Although, in practice in the Netherlands, and this includes Ede, up to that point had not been so strictly adhered to as was preached in Ede. It was only at the end of the 1970s that the first careful steps were taken to arrange for the required facilities. The municipal executive disregarded an official report in 1977 by Ede’s own Sociographical Department, in which migrant workers were considered one of the minority groups in the Netherlands and in which specific mention was made of the role of government in the origination of the problems confronting this population group. The decision of the national government in 1984 to transfer policy on minorities to local government forced the municipal executive to set down its own policy. When social unrest occurred surrounding the desire of and initiatives by the Moroccan and Turkish communities for their own place of prayer, the municipal executive slowly changed its attitude from a wait-and-see approach into an active approach in which a reasonably acceptable solution was sought in consultation with all the parties involved. The strong position of the SGP (Reformed Political Party) in local politics could present an explanation for the fact that in this period the extreme right in Ede, in contrast to national level, never achieved the electoral threshold.
Growth also places demands on leisure facilities. In the previous topics, especially in relation to the educational facilities and the facilities for migrant workers, there was an ongoing discussion in the background about how big the role of government should be in society. In confessional circles, but also within the VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy), an ideological preference prevailed for small government, meaning, where possible, the initiative should be left to the community or the individual respectively. Government spending on leisure activities was particularly sensitive in the Protestant-Christian parties. The SGP (Reformed Political Party), on principal, held the opinion that the government should not spend public money on these types of activities. The development of sport fields/sport halls and the accommodation of sports clubs could, however, count on the support of the majority of the council and certainly also of the municipal executive. In the 1950s and 1960s the aldermen of the PvdA (Labour Party), VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) and ARP (Anti-Revolutionary Party) were great sport enthusiasts. Subsidies for cultural activities were more sensitive as theatre and opera had been a taboo for a long time within segments of the Protestant- Christian parties and, particularly, within the SGP (Reformed Political Party). If it was, nevertheless, decided to provide funding to support organizations or initiatives, then it was chosen for a strong involvement by the municipality, for example through ownership and tenures. This was an attempt by the municipal executive to exercise more control over the operations and the use of subsidies. At the same time, the municipal executive had a preference for the commercial use of, for example, a swimming pool or a theatre because this presented the possibility of keeping the public funding to a minimum. Particularly this involvement in a commercial organization gave rise, once again, to criticism within the council and within the community because commercialism with the help of public money was considered inappropriate for government and unfair competition. Ultimately, in the middle of the 1980s, the municipal executive distanced itself from the commercial operations by awarding a fixed subsidy amount based on agreements relating to the services provided to the community.
Reflecting on the fifty year period researched, two cut-off points can be established in the modernization process in Ede. The first period runs from 1945 to 1966 and is characterized by growth and tradition. The prevailing philosophy was that despite the choice for growth the Protestant-Christian character of the municipality should and could be maintained. This is illustrated in the development of a broad and above municipal level provision of private-authority Protestant-Christian educational facilities, in the commitment to non-interference in the agricultural sector including keeping the peasants, and in the conservative policy on developing cultural activities for the leisure sector.
However, the growth did strengthened aspects such as secularization, professionalization, geographical and social mobility, individualization and democratization: the modernization process continually resulted in changes in society and in the population composition and was not solely restricted to what was desirable or planned.
The second period runs to 1978 and can be characterized with the terms: change and debate.
The municipal policy was examined more critically. For example, the city-forming plans were considered undesirable both by the original population and the newcomers. Maintaining the smallness and a more rural character proved to be attractive aspects for Ede. At the same time, the demand for a more pluralistic and broader provision of social and cultural activities increased. In this second period, the non-interference policy in relation to agricultural developments except in the case that agricultural lands were required for housing and business premises, encountered opposition when the negative effects of the continuous expansion in the intensive animal husbandry for the ecology and
environment became more apparent. In addition, the arrival of migrant workers and with them Islam
into this predominantly Protestant-Christian community became more problematic during this period. As a consequence of unemployment and family reunification, more pressure was put on the municipal authorities for assistance and the need for a place of prayer for the Muslim community strengthened.
The societal and economic changes led to a more pluralistic political landscape. The six parties were confronted with increasing competition from new political parties, including the Boerenpartij (Farmers’ Party) which was the first to profit from the discontent. Only the SGP
(Reformed Political Party) managed to hold onto its share of the vote. The third period is characterized by the development of a new political situation and the search for a new political balance. The municipal executive was forced by the national government to curb the intensive animal husbandry.
The ARP (Anti-Revolutionary Party) had to part with the education portfolio and, finally, Ede got a public-authority neutral secondary school, the Pallas Athene. It was a long journey, but the Muslim community also received its own place of prayer. At a time when societal opposition to the building of a mosque appeared to favour the national extreme-right political parties and movements, the municipal executive opted to work with the Muslim groups to find a solution acceptable to all parties. The municipality distanced itself from the business operations in how it financed organizations such as swimming pools, the theatre and events such as the Week of the Heather.
What are the answers to my questions I posed in the beginning: is modernization at the local level more of less an exogenous process, can it be planned, or have local politicians enough opportunities to make a difference? When compared to the national developments it holds true for Ede that the 1950s was certainly a dynamic period, but it is also true to say that a Protestant-Christian community such as Ede required more time to shape its growth ambition so that old and new, conservative and progressive, and religious and secular could achieve a new balance and compromise. The changes were neither imposed from outside nor according to plan. The paradoxical outcome of the modernization process is that it has led to the further convergence of the local with the national developments, but it has at the same time ensured the survival of local characteristics.
Partially, these are characteristics that have consciously been or were able to be preserved by politicians, such as the predominantly Protestant-Christian education facilities and a conservative policy towards the socio-cultural domain. This policy has not, per definition, turned out favourably for the supporting political parties. It was the SGP (Reformed Political Party) and not the governing parties CHU (Christian Historical Union) and ARP (Anti-Revolutionary Party) (and later the CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal) that managed to hold onto its voters, even though the Protestant-Christian character of the municipality was the reason why a segment of the newcomers chose for Ede. Their votes did not strengthen the confessional parties at the centre of the political spectrum; it was precisely the orthodox element that benefitted, which was illustrated by the arrival of the RPF (Reformed Political Federation/GPV (Reformed Political Union). Other characteristic elements are independent of the local political policy and have ensured that Ede has become and remains a desirable place of residence and business. Its central location on the Veluwe, the good infrastructure, and the size of the municipality stimulated and made growth possible. Ede was a municipality with adequate facilities and the amenities it lacked could be found in the nearby Randstad and Arnhem.
The Veluwe National Park also forms a large, green and tranquil back garden.
Modernization was not imposed upon Ede, contrary to what Van Deursen notes in the case of Katwijk. Even so no controlled modernization for Ede, as Van Vegchel describes for Emmen. Like Zwemer states for Zeeland, local politics in Ede has been able to make a difference within the national developments and governmental guidelines. The national government only intervened and imposed their policy at the moment local political choices led to negative effects beyond the municipal boundaries. In accordance with the findings of Schuyt and Taverne the development in Ede was not the result of a ‘grand design’, not even of local politicians. Ede shows quite nice the paradox of modernization. Despite the creation of uniformity in the ongoing process of national integration and globalization, the paradox is that contradictory movements are possible that contribute to ensuring that the unique character of the area can be preserved, even if this characterization is also subject to change.