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Political systems in Europe 26.9.2007: 

Political systems in Europe 26.9.2007 Prof. Vesa Vares England and Germany before the First World War

Political system in Britain up to 1914: General: 

Political system in Britain up to 1914: General Whigs and Tories – Liberals and Conservatives Labour as a latecomer parliamentarism, limited concept of democracy and franchise reforms of 1832, 1867, 1884 Victorian age Imperialism and Empire-building


Liberals criticism towards the Tories and at least indirectly towards the Crown democracy and franchise as duties as well as rights educating people towards political maturity making the whole nation middle class criteria for competency: self- and family sustaining life, education, career, setting an example, family values ("the club")


French Revolution and the proclamation of freedom and equality were goals – to be improved and bred by English commonsense and tradition in order to prevent Robespierrean anarchy and terror the more Leftist orientation – although with moderation Palmerston, Gladstone, Lloyd George reform, but hardly revolutionary


from Old Liberalism to Social Liberalism (John Stuart Mill, L.T. Hobhouse etc.) "positive freedom" and rejection of Social Darwinism, also the rights of women; model for European Liberals still, only qualified democracy in order to educate the masses to political maturity Lloyd George and the "people's budget" – progress before liberty


a success and a battle which finally did not win the war – a swansong for the Liberals could not compete with the Labour Party not staunch enough against Socialism however, roots of Keynesianism


Conservatives a "modern" party even before Liberals more moderate and compliant than the European Conservatives party of the Crown and the landed gentry ideological "founding father" originally a Whig: Edmund Burke, "The Reflections on the Revolution in France" (1790)


against Jacobinism, terror and the abstract missions based on doctrines against traditions and "nature" total democracy as a tool for demagogues and for suppressing minority Robert Peel and the Corn Laws in the 1840's serving also the nation, not only the Crown


Benjamin Disraeli (later Lord Beaconsfield) originally an anathema – political talent and endurance finally prevailed Young England, "Two Nations" Prime Minister 1868, 1874–1880; the favourite of Queen Victoria reform, extended suffrage, British nationalism and imperialism later nostalgically seen as an ideologist and a reformist


the successors more pragmatic and rightist (lord Salisbury etc.) the party was considered old-fashioned and even stagnate before the First World War; for example Churchill had defected to the Liberals ("the Conservatives are not a party but a conspiracy")

Labour Party: 

Labour Party the early industrialization created trade union policy; class division was not theoreticized but taken as a fact to fight Marxism less influential the colonies and the heritage of Parliamentarism as outlets Fabian Society "reducing Socialism to social policy" real breakthrough after the World War

Political system in Germany up to 1914: General: 

Political system in Germany up to 1914: General Numerous special caharacteristics no national unity – a nationality and an area, not a state Prussia as an exception as a great power – but one with a militaristic and bureaucratic reputation loyalty to local Princes and cities "Untertan" middle class and civic society; reputation of political weakness and indecision


nationalism was more a theory than practice the structure of the society old-fashioned even after industrialization in many ways highly developed and respected, for example in science – but considered politically immature

The unification by Bismarck: 

The unification by Bismarck Bismarck the new Reichskanzler 1862 wars of 1864, 1866 and 1870-71 – originally against a strong domestic opposition the German Empire 1871 "Little Germany" – Bismarck's way in principle a federal state: old Princes and even Kings remained, as did a significant amount of local autonomy


a conservative "strong man" model, no Parliamentarism Bismarck ultraconservative, but realist and pragmatist, not totalitarianist laws against the SPD and Kulturkampf – but in a legal manner and as temporary measures which did not violate basic civil rights advanced social policy to create a non-Marxist working class – "Katedersozialismus" in foreign policy, no wish for new annexations or changes in European politics "white revolutionary"?


in foreign policy, no wish for new annexations or changes in European politics "white revolutionary"? the new Emperor 1888, Wilhelm II; dismissed Bismarck in 1890 touch of populism and Bonapartism; Wilhelm as a popular cult figure the "restless Empire"? – many stereotypes of a clumsy Great Power with more hurry than skill

The German Party System: 

The German Party System no Parliamentarism in national elections equal and practically universal vote – in local elections very different and complex practices (in Prussia, three categories) in general, the elections were free, the votes counted correctly and the civil servants uncorrupted and mostly nonpolitical


Left-wing Liberals, the Progressive Party Western (Rhein area), middle class, democratic, 10-20 % National Liberals supporters of Bismarck, in other policies Liberal, originally a big party, lost its following gradually (from about 30 % to about 13 %) Zentrum Catholic, Bavarian, anti-Bismarck, could sustain oppression; about 20-25 %


Free Conservatives (later Reichspartei) supporters of Bismarck, more modern than the main Conservative Party, influential because of prominent supporters and a foothold in administration; 5-10 % Conservatives the "Kreuzzeitung Circle", high nobility and landed gentry, East Prussia, very "estate conscious", originally suspicious against Bismarck; 12-25 %


the Pan-German movement remained an obscurity – no real political weight yet Social Democrats, SPD SPD in 1869, united party in 1875 the model for other Europeans; big, powerful, could withstand the oppression against Bismarck, leading authorities on Socialist theory, "Marx' own party" W. Liebknecht, Bebel, Kautsky, Bernstein, Luxemburg, K. Liebknecht


officially, an unrelenting, pure Marxist line against peacemeal reform the Bernstein debates; officially rejected by Kautsky and the Erfurt Party Programme 1891; in practice adapted in many areas in the end, almost 35 % of the votes officially revolutionary and pacifist; approved the financial grants for the war in 1914

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