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The Making of the Democratic Party in Europe, 1860-1890

This book analyses the emergence of modern parties in nineteenth-century Europe and explores their connection with the slowly developing institution of democracy.

Anne Heyer
09 March 2022
Palgrave Macmillan

The close relationship between party and democracy was established by the founders of the first modern parties who presented themselves as representatives of the people. Focusing on the ideas and practices of party founders, this book moves away from the traditional view that party formation was the result of industrialisation. It instead shows that the response of party founders was to frame and establish the modern party as an alternative to existing models of political representation, and one that was characterised by popular participation.In order to mobilize their followers, party founders gave new meaning to existing structures and developed new practices of political organization. The result was the creation of organizations that continue to shape the history of modern democracy.

Exploring the foundation of three political parties: the German Social Democratic Workers’ Party (SDAP); the Dutch Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP); and the British National Liberal Federation, the author analyses the phenomenon of innovative party formation in nineteenth-century Europe, before the democratic mass-membership party had become a widely accepted concept. Taking a transnational and comparative approach, this book illustrates the decisive role of party founders in the formation of modern democracy, making it an essential read for anyone researching the history of democracy and political parties.

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