Christian democracy

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Christian democracy (sometimes named Conservative democracy) is a political ideology that emerged in 19th-century Europe under the influence of Catholic social teaching[1][2] and neo-Calvinism.[nb 1]

It was conceived as a combination of modern democratic ideas and traditional Christian values, incorporating social justice and the social teachings espoused by the Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Pentecostal, and other denominational traditions of Christianity in various parts of the world.[5][nb 2]

After World War II, Catholic and Protestant movements of neo-scholasticism and the Social Gospel shaped Christian democracy.[4]

Christian democracy is often considered center-right on cultural, social, and moral issues but center-left "with respect to economic and labor issues, civil rights, and foreign policy" and the environment.[7][nb 3] Christian democrats support a social market economy.[7]

Worldwide, many Christian democratic parties are members of the Centrist Democrat International and some also of the International Democrat Union. Examples of major Christian democratic parties include the Spanish People's Party, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, Ireland's Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, the Dutch Christian Democratic Appeal, the Mexican National Action Party, the Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland, the Austrian People's Party, the Christian Democratic Party of Chile, the Aruban People's Party,[verification needed] and a faction of the British Conservative Party.[9]

Christian democracy continues to be influential in Europe and Latin America, although it is also present in other parts of the world.[10] Many European Christian democratic parties are affiliated with the European People's Party. Compared to the pro-European EPP, those with Eurosceptic views may be members of the European Conservatives and Reformists Party. Many Christian democratic parties in the Americas are affiliated with the Christian Democrat Organization of America.

Overview of Political viewpoints[edit]

As a generalization, it can be said that Christian democratic parties in Europe tend to be moderately conservative and, in several cases, form the main conservative party in their respective countries (e.g., in Germany, Spain, Belgium, and Switzerland), such as the Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland, the Christian Social Party, the Evangelical People's Party of Switzerland and the Federal Democratic Union of Switzerland. By contrast, Christian democratic parties in Latin America tend to be left-leaning and, to some degree, influenced by liberation theology.[11][needs update] Christian democracy includes elements common to other political ideologies, including conservatism, liberalism, and social democracy.[citation needed]\

Christian democrats are usually socially conservative[12] and generally have a relatively skeptical stance towards abortion and same-sex marriage; although some Christian democratic parties have accepted the limited legalization of both; they advocate for a consistent life ethic with regard to their opposition to capital punishment and assisted suicide.[13][14] Christian Democrats have also supported the prohibition of drugs.[nb 4] Christian democratic parties are often likely to assert their country's Christian and explicitly affirm Christian ethics rather than adopting a more liberal or secular stance;[nb 5] at the same time, Christian Democratic parties enshrine confessional liberty.[18] Christian Democracy fosters an "ecumenical unity achieved on the religious level against the atheism of the government in the Communist countries."[nb 6]

Christian democrats' views include traditional moral values (on marriage, abortion, prohibition of drugs, etc.),[20] opposition to secularization, opposition to state atheism, a view of the evolutionary (as opposed to revolutionary) development of society, an emphasis on law and order, and a rejection of communism.[19][6] Christian democrats are open to change (for example, in the structure of society) and not necessarily supportive of the social status quo, and have an emphasis on human rights and individual initiative. A rejection of secularism and an emphasis on the fact that the individual is part of a community and has duties towards it. An emphasis on the community, social justice and solidarity, support for a welfare state, labor unions, and support for regulation of market forces.[21] Most European Christian Democrats reject the concept of class struggle (although less so in some Latin American countries, which have been influenced by liberation theology), opposing both excessive State institutions and unregulated capitalism in favor of robust non-governmental, non-profit, intermediary institutions to deliver social services and social insurance.

Geoffrey K. Roberts and Patricia Hogwood have noted that "Christian democracy has incorporated many of the views held by liberals, conservatives and socialists within a wider framework of moral and Christian principles."[22]

Christian democrats hold that the various sectors of society (such as education, family, economy, and state) have autonomy and responsibility over their sphere, a concept known as sphere sovereignty.[23] One sphere ought not to dictate the obligations of another social entity; for example, the sphere of the state is not permitted to interfere with raising children, a role that belongs to the sphere of the family.[23] Within the sphere of government, Christian democrats maintain that civil issues should first be addressed at the lowest level of government before being examined at a higher level, a doctrine known as subsidiarity.[7] These concepts of sphere sovereignty and subsidiarity are considered cornerstones of Christian Democracy political ideology.[24]

As advocates of environmentalism, many[who?] Christian democrats support the principle of stewardship, which upholds the idea that humans should safeguard the planet for future generations of life.[7] Christian democrats also tend to have a conciliatory view concerning immigration.[25]

Political Philosophy[edit]

No single author can has been recognized by all Christian democrats as the leading Christian Democratic thinker, but Jacques Maritain comes closet.[26] Thus, he is in no way akin to Karl Marx, Edmund Burke or John Locke, in their impact.[26] Other authors critical to forming Christian Democratic ideology include Pope Leo XIII,[27], Pope Pius XI,[28] Emmanuel Mounier,[29] Heinrich Pesch,[30], Abraham Kuyper,[31] and Luigi Sturzo.[32]

General Inspiration[edit]

Neo-Scholasticism[edit]

Christian democracy can trace its philosophical roots to Thomas Aquinas and his thoughts on Aristotelian ontology and the Christian tradition.[4] According to Aquinas, human rights are based on natural law and are defined as the things humans need to function correctly. For example, food is a human right because, without food, humans cannot function properly. Aquinas affirmed humans are images of the divine, and this follows onto human dignity and equality; all humans are equality because they all share that nature.[33] Aquinas also affirmed the natural reality of family and household, based on the lifelong commitment of husband and wife, perfected with children, a unit which has priority over other communities.[34] Aquinas also argued that Public power can legitimately appropriate private owners of their resources for the common good, when it is used for people in genuine need. [35] When Leo XIII became pope, he issued the Papal Encyclical Aeterni Patris, which rehabilitated Scholastic philosophy.[36] In this encyclical, the pope highlighted Aquinas's views on liberty, authority, laws, just and charity.[37]

Neo-Calvinism[edit]

Another intellectual element of Christian democracy was Neo-Calvinism.[38] The Neo-Calvinist political ideas relied on John Calvin's ideas of the sovereignty of God and common grace.[39] In light of the French revolution and notions of individual and state sovereignty, God's sovereignty was particularly useful.[39] It was the basis of Sphere sovereignty which helped the interests of minority Calvinists. In sphere sovereignty, each sphere has their own area of activity with relationship to God.[39] Within this view of sphere sovereignty, it was the states roll to pursue public justice.[40] Another element was that life is religious and politics should reflect this.[41]

Political Thought[edit]

Academics, have noted a few ideas key to Christian Democracy, including, Personalism,[42][43][44][45] Solidarity[42][46] (or some variant of social capitalism[47][48]), Popularism[49] (or some variant on it's catch-all nature[44][50]), and notions of "Pluralism",[42][51][52] which in a vertical sense link to Subsidiarity,[53][54] and in a horizontal sense link to Sphere Sovereignty.[55][56]

Personalism[edit]

Personalism is a political doctrine generally linked to Emmanuel Mounier.[57] It starts with a focus on the person, their intellect, responsibilities and value.[58] It stress humans are free beings with dignity and political rights, but these rights must be used for the Common Good.[42] It also stresses that true human freedom is used inline with God's will.[59] It is against the individualist and collectivist notions of humanity.[42] It also stress that persons become full when they are members of their communities.[45] In practical policy it leads to a few conclusions;

  • Human life is sacred and is an end in itself. It is therefore against Abortion and euthanasia.[60]
  • The family unit is an essential part of society, and must be defended.[61]
  • Traditional gender roles must be respected; this leads to a rejection of same sex marriages.[62]
  • Freedom is not a license for Moral permissiveness.[63]

Personalism has generally being the underlying basis in Christian democracy that leads to Human rights, especially in relation to a right to life, a right to family and a right to aid, a right to suffrage, freedom of conscious, and freedom of religion.[64]

Solidarity and Social Capitalism[edit]

The Christian Democratic political economy has moved from solidarist corporatism to a model of a social market economy. Initially, many Catholic political movements in the 19th century opposed capitalism and socialism equally, as both were based on materialism and social conflict.[65] Initially, the system that Catholics advocated was one of corporatism, based on bringing back a guild-organized economy.[65][66] The idea came to be a society where individuals were organized by their economic position in society; people were organized in society based on where they were in the economy.[67] In these corporatist systems the fathers were the head of families.[67] One of these conceptions was that of Franz von Baader, who advocated for proletariat enfranchisement in the corporatist system.[68] Baader is recognized as the first person to advocate for workplace codetermination.[69] Codetermination would become a key point of unity amongst the Christian Democratic trade unions.[70] In the 19th century and early 20th century, the Lutheran social Christians advocated an authoritarian view of corporatism,[71] and the Neo-Calvinists corporatist idea has been credited as an inspiration for the polder system that currently exists in the Netherlands.[72] Many of these corporatism's would advance the idea of replacing the elected parliament which corporative parliament recognizing the various corporate estates of the nation; industrialists, small businesses, peasants, land owners, workers etc.[72][67] The papal encyclical Rerum Novarum would recognize some of the principles behind corporatism.[73]

Corporatism became increasingly prominent in young Catholics frustrated with parliamentary politics,[74] and in many instances would inspire authoritarian and Fascist regimes movements in Austria, France, Spain, Portugal,[75] and Germany.[76][71] The alternative, Christian Democratic notion of corporatism was found within Heinrich Pesch's Solidarism.[30] Pesch's solidarism argued for international solidarity based on shared humanity, national solidarity based on shared nationality, familiar solidarity for family members, and class and cross-class solidarity based on shared interests in the workplace.[77] This latter solidarity focused on occupational associations advancing collective interests, codetermination,[77] and a "third house of parliament" that would advise on economic matters.[78] Heinrich Pesch's idea of corporatism would be qualified notion of subsidiarity.[78] Pesch's ideas would be influential in the Papal Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno given Pesch's disciple Oswald von Nell-Breuining would draft the document.[79] Quadragesimo Anno was significant in legitimatizing the push for a corporatist system, however subjected it to the notion of subsidiarity.[75] Eventually corporatism fell out of the political debate due to it's association with authoritarian and fascist regimes.[80]

Another economic idea within Christian democracy is the social market economy, widely influential across much of continental Europe. The social market is an essentially free market economy based on a free price system and private property. However, it supports government activity to promote competitive markets with a comprehensive social welfare system and effective public services to address social inequalities resulting from free market outcomes.[81] The market is seen not as an end but as a means of generating wealth to achieve broader social goals and maintain societal cohesion.[82] This model of capitalism, sometimes called Rhine–Alpine capitalism or social capitalism, is contrasted with Anglo-American capitalism or enterprise capitalism. Whereas the former is more likely to endorse unions and cooperations, the latter aims for fewer restrictions on the workings of market economics. As a consequence, there is a willingness on the part of Christian democratic parties to practice Keynesian and welfarist policies.[82]

In recent decades, some right-leaning Christian democratic parties in Europe have adopted policies consistent with an economically liberal point of view but still support a regulated economy with a welfare state. By contrast, other Christian democrats sometimes seem to hold views similar to Christian socialism or the economic system of distributism. The promotion of the Christian democratic concepts of sphere sovereignty and subsidiarity led to the creation of corporatist welfare states throughout the world that continue to exist to this day.[nb 7] In keeping with the Christian Democratic concepts of the cultural mandate and the preferential option for the poor, Christian justice is viewed as demanding that the welfare of all people, especially the poor and vulnerable, must be protected because every human being has dignity, being made in the image of God.[7][84] In many countries, Christian Democrats organized labor unions that competed with Communist and social democratic unions, in contrast to conservativism's stance against worker organizations. In solidarity with these labor unions, in Belgium, for example, Christian Democrats have lobbied for Sunday blue laws that guarantee workers and civil servants a day of rest in line with historic Christian Sabbath principles.[85]

Popularism[edit]

Popularism is a political doctrine conceived by Don Luigi Sturzo. Sturzo outlined his conception of popularism as follows:

Popularism is democratic, but it differs from liberal democracy in that it denies the individualist and centralising system of the State and wishes the State to be organic and decentralised. It is liberal (in the wholesome sense of the word) because it takes its stand on the civil and political liberties, which it upholds as equal for all, without party monopolies and without persecution of religion, races or classes. It is social in the sense of a radical reform of the present capitalist system, but it parts company with Socialism because it admits of private property while insisting on the social function of such property. It proclaims its Christian character because to-day there can be no ethics or civilisation other than Christian. Popularism was the antithesis of the totalitarian State.[86]

Academics have tied the idea of Popularism to the way Christian Democratic parties encompass sections of the whole population.[87] This is a result of the inherent religious center allowing cut across class divisions.[88] In realization of this, Christian Democratic parties tend to invoke the title "People's Parties".[89] Academic Carlo Invernizzi Accetti links the idea of Popularism to Proportional Representation, Pillarization and Consociational Democracy.[90]

Pluralism[edit]

The Christian democratic notion of Pluralism is about how humans are generally imbedded in a social framework. John Witte, explaining the origin of Christian democracy, describes pluralism thus:

Both Protestant and Catholic parties inveighed against the reductionist extremes and social failures of liberal democracies and social democracies. Liberal democracies, they believed, had sacrificed the community for the individual; social democracies had sacrificed the individual for the community. Both parties returned to a traditional Christian teaching of "social pluralism" or "subsidiarity," which stressed the dependence and participation of the individual in family, church, school, business, and other associations. Both parties stressed the responsibility of the state to respect and protect the "individual in community."[4]

Sphere Sovereignty stresses the horizontal element of this; social communities have roles they must uphold, but also certain liberty and autonomy.[56] Here the government had the role to police the spheres.[56] In Subsidiarity, the state has the role of protecting and regulating the spheres.[91] The state must not interfere, if these communities are behaving effectively.[92] This also means that a state can intervene when these communities are not competent.[54] In practice, subsidiarity has been used to justify that creation of international organizations, as higher international authorities need to exist to police nation states.[93]

History[edit]

19th century[edit]

The origins of Christian democracy go back to the French Revolution, where initially, French republicanism and the Catholic Church were deeply hostile to one another as the revolutionary government had attacked the church, confiscated the church's lands, persecuted its priests, and attempted to establish a new religion around reason and the supreme being.[94] After the decades following the French revolution, the Catholic church saw the rise of liberalism as a threat to catholic values. The rise of capitalism and the resulting industrialization and urbanization of society was seen to be destroying traditional communal and family life. According to the Catholic Church, liberal economics promoted selfishness and materialism with the liberal emphasis on individualism, tolerance, and free expression, enabling all kinds of self-indulgence and permissiveness to thrive.[94] Consequently, for much of the 19th century, the Catholic Church was hostile to democracy and liberalism.

This hostility to democracy and liberalism would be challenged by Liberal Catholics who believed the alliance between the church and aristocracy was a barrier to the churches mission.[95] Initially, this group desired to reconcile the Catholics with the state of modern politics, getting Catholics involved in parties, public action and parliamentarianism.[96] This, however, was not an endorsement of democracy, and the Liberal Catholics maintained they were did not adhere to liberalism.[97] Eventually, the movements leading figures such as Lamennais would begin to be more accepting of democracy.[98] The group came to be associate with a desire for free press, freedom of association and worship, and free education.[95][99]

Around this time, Catholic Social Thought developed, with Social Catholic theologians and activists took to advocating the interests of workers in society. Some activists, such as Frédéric Ozanam, the Society of St Vincent de Paul founder, were more amenable to liberal democracy.[100] Ozanam criticized economic liberalism, the commodification of labor, and argued for that charity was not sufficient to deal with these problems, but rather that labor associations and state intervention was needed.[101] Italian Popular Party leader Luigi Sturzo credits Ozanam as the first Christian Democrat.[102] One of the more influential theologians in Germany was Wilhelm von Ketteler, who encouraged Catholics to accept the modern state.[103] Ketteler argued for productive associations, with profit sharing, Christian Trade unions, and general workers rights.[104]

In the 1870s, Catholic political movements arose independently of the Catholic Church to defend Catholic interests from the liberal states. In Europe, generally, the liberal states desired to wrestle control over the Catholic education system; however, in Germany and Italy, this was a direct attack against the church.[105] The Catholic political movements specifically opposed liberal secularism and state control of education; the parties that came out of these movements include the Centre Party (Germany), the Catholic Party (Belgium), various catholic parties in the Netherlands, and the Christian Social Party (Austria). Initially, most of these parties accepted the anti-liberal beliefs of the catholic church at the time; many Catholics behind these movements believed all spheres of life should be regulated by religion.[106] These movements were initially built by ultramontanes,[107] were against the liberal view that church and state must be separated,[65] and used the term "Christian Democracy" in opposition to liberal democracy.[108] The Centre Party in Germany seems to be an exception to this trend in that they defended the Catholic Church through an appeal to liberal freedoms and democracy. Additionally, the Centre Party, inspired by Ketteler, supported social legislation.[103][109]

Despite the thoroughly pro-Catholic position of these movements, the church itself resisted the movements, seeing them as a challenge to the church's control of the laity.[108] Over time, the impact of electoral politics on these parties pushed them to be more accepting of liberal democracy. To form effective political coalitions, these parties evolved from Catholic parties to parties inspired by Christianity and turned to voters, not the Catholic Church, for legitimacy.[110] During this time, the Catholic parties took an inter-class nature, such that they comprised trade unionists, landlords, industrialists, peasants, and artisans,[111] which academics have linked to the notion of Popularism.[112]

Protestant confessional politics was more wide and varied. The most significant movement was in the Netherlands, where Reformed, Neo-Calvinist protestants founded the Anti-Revolutionary Party. Similarly to the Catholics, this party was formed out of similar concerns with liberal control of education.[113][114] The party was against the ideas of the French revolution,[113] and its founder, Abraham Kuyper, held that the government derived its authority from God, not from the people.[115] However, Kuyper and the anti-revolutionary party did support organic democratic representation and promoted universal household suffrage.[116] In Germany, this element came from the Lutheran Adolf Stocker, who established the Christian Social Party, and those who followed him, such as Friedrich Naumann. The Christian Social movement aimed to challenge Marxist socialism, so Stoecker supported pro-worker economic policies to win over the working class. However, when this failed, Stoecker turned to anti-Semitism.[117] Comparatively, Friedrich Naumann's initiatives for Christian Socialism devolved into the idea of a "national-social" ideal.[118] In Switzerland, Stoecker and Naumann caused some interest in political organization, but Protestants largely accepted the predominance of liberalism, and so there was only minor growth of a protestant political movement.[119]

20th century[edit]

The papacy of Pope Leo XIII was a turning point in the development of Christian Democracy,[120] and he attempted to infuse Democracy and liberalism with Catholic values.[121] In the papal encyclical Rerum novarum in 1891 , Pope Leo XIII recognized workers' misery and argued for means to improve workers' conditions. He also attacked economic liberalism and condemned the rise of socialism, and generally encouraged a corporatist approach to labor relations.[122] The position of the Roman Catholic Church on this matter was further clarified in subsequent encyclicals, such as Quadragesimo anno, by Pope Pius XI in 1931, Populorum progressio by Pope Paul VI in 1967, Centesimus annus, by Pope John Paul II in 1991, and Caritas in veritate by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. Rerum novarum would provide Catholic labor movements with an intellectual platform, and would coincide with the rise of Christian trade unions across Europe.[123][122] It was the catalyst for the beginning of Christian Democracy in France[124] Italy and Austria.[125] The same year as the release of Rerum Novarum, Abraham Kuyper organized the Christian Social Congress alongside the Protestant workers' movement, where Kuyper outlined their social principles and policy. These actions reinforced the push for Christian social action in the Netherlands.[126] In Graves de communi re Pope would protest against the use of Christian Democracy as a political label, preferring it merely describe a social movement.[125]

Some academics consider the Catholic political parties around this time to be essentially Catholic and not Christian Democratic.[127][128] However, others consider the new Italian People's Party and the Popular Democratic Party (France) to be Christian Democratic.[129][130] These parties advocated political liberties, religious liberties, economic reform and social partnership, policies to support democracy and internationalism.[131][132] The Italian People's Party also advocated for Regionalism and proportional representation.[133] At the beginning of the Weimar Republic, Adam Stegerwald attempted to reform the Centre Party into a Christian Democratic party, uniting Catholics and Protestants.[134] In Belgium, the rising workers movement came to form the increasingly powerful Christian Democratic faction of the Catholic Party.[135] This period also saw other catholic parties forming; Bavarian Catholics to break away and form the Bavarian People's Party as a result of the Centre Party's participation in the establishment of the Weimar Republic.[136] In Switzerland, Catholics formed the Swiss Conservative Peoples Party, which, as a party, was divided between three competing demographics; rural Catholics who wanted greater regional independence, Catholic workers who wanted economic reform, and the more conservative groups who came to oppose democracy.[137] Overall, the party was held together by their Catholic faith, and their anti-socialist and anti-liberal tendencies.[138]

In the early 20th century, Protestant confessional politics developed further. In Weimar Germany, Stoecker's Christian social party would join the German National People's Party as its labor wing in 1918.[134] The Christian social parliamentarians from this party would then leave in 1929 to form the Christian Social People's Service (CSVD).[139] Protestant workers' movements in Switzerland gradually developed mutual aid funds into an independent trade union movement. Around this time, Swiss protestants formed the Evangelical People's Party. The 1930s saw the rise of the Christian People's Party in Norway. It was built on the work of Pietist Lutherans, and the party was initially founded to defend the country's Christian heritage against the rise of secularization.[140] There was cooperation between the Protestant and Catholic parties during this period. The Catholic and Protestant parties would form joint governments in the Netherlands and Germany.[141][142] However, this cooperation did not challenge the underlying differences between the movements; in Germany, there was tension from cooperation with protestants,[143] while in the Netherlands, the Anti-Revolutionaries would not support pro-Vatican policies.[142]

In 1931, Pope Pius XI released the encyclical Quadragesimo anno, which was released on the 40th anniversary of Rerum novarum, and aimed to clarify the subsequent social doctrine of the church. The Encyclical doubled down on the pronouncements of Rerum novarum on economic liberalism and socialism.[144] The attack against socialism was broadened to include moderate socialism,[145] and within the encyclical the pope outlined a corporatist structure of society, based on the notion of 'subsidiarity'.[146][147] However, the Pope would stress the autonomy in this corporatist system to distinguish it from fascism.[148] This Quadragesimo Anno would come to influence the economic programs of Catholic parties of the time, such as the Popular Democratic Party,[149] the Dutch Roman Catholic State Party,[150] alongside influencing Belgian Catholics.[151] The Centre Party, Christian Social Party and Swiss Conservative Peoples Party already advocated corporatism on the basis of Economists such as Heinrich Pesch, Oswald von Nell-Breuining, and Karl von Vogelsang.[152] In Germany and Austria, Quadragesimo anno renewed the vigor for corporatism.[153]

Across Europe, the Catholic and Protestant parties faced the threat of Fascism. Amidst the rise of Fascism in Italy, The Italian People's Party, under Stuzo, attempted to challenge Mussolini by forming a coalition with the socialist party[154]. Luigi Sturzo was given orders by the Catholic Church in 1923 to disband his Italian People's Party and exit politics.[155] Poor Electoral performance in the 1924 would make Sturzo give party leadership to Alcide De Gasperi, and go into exile.[156][157] Once in power the Fascists disbanded the Italian People's party. This would precede the signing of the Lateran Treaty between the Catholic Church and the Italian Fascists in 1929.[158] The Centre Party and the CSVD would face the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. Once the Nazis got to power in 1933, the Party attempted to take total power with the Enabling Act in 1923. Internally, the Centre Party was divided on the Enabling Act, but many became persuaded that Hitler would not eliminate the Reichstag.[159][160] Comparatively, the historical anti-Semitism of the Protestant Christian Social movement left the Christian Socials susceptible to Nazism. The Nazi Party would infiltrate the Protestant unions linked to CSVD in 1931.[161] Eventually, both parties would sign the Enabling Act, and both parties would summarily dissolve. Outside of Germany and Italy, many Catholic and Protestant parties would ultimately be dissolved when Nazi Germany invaded the rest of Europe in World War II.

After World War II, "both Protestant and Catholic political activists helped to restore democracy to war-torn Europe and extend it overseas".[4] The collapse of fascism led to the discrediting of the radical right.[162] In Germany, conservativism was associated with reactionary and anti-democratic attitudes. The Christian Democrats could claim to be untainted by Fascism and thereby draw together conservative Catholics and bourgeois protestants.[163] In both Germany and Italy, the Christian Democratic parties encompassed former conservatives.[162] The Christian Democratic parties dominated the post war scene. In Italy, the new Christian Democratic party led the coalition government under Alcide De Gaspari, and in France the Popular Republican Movement became the largest party in parliament in 1946.[164] In Germany, France and Italy the Christian Democratic parties helped establish their respective countries constitutions. Between the 1940s and 1990s, Christian Democratic parties were in power across western Europe; "In Germany they were in power for 36 years out of 50, in Italy for 47 years out of 52, in Belgium 47 years out of 53, and in Netherlands for 49 years of 53; even in France they were influential up to 1962".[165]

Protestant Christian Democracy developed in multifaced ways in the post-war period. In Germany, it arose amongst the Lutheran Ordoliberals. These Lutherans looked to Christian Theologians such as Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer to path a way that obeyed worldly authority but also challenged the Nazi Regime.[166][167] The core of the ordoliberal ideology was a strong state that enabled market competition.[168] During the war, the ordoliberals worked with Bonhoeffer to develop a political and socio-economic plan for the post-war period,[169] and after the war, they joined with Catholics to form the Christian Democratic Union.[170] The Ordoliberals termed their vision a ‘social market economy’,[171] a vision the Catholics would also come to champion.[172] In Sweden, it arose amongst the Pentecostals, where it coalesced in the Christian Democrats, which was founded in 1964 as a reaction to secularization.[6][173] The Finish Christian Democrats, formed in 1957, and the Danish Christian peoples party, formed in 1970, were both defended Christian schooling, and dissented against secular trends such as atheism and liberal abortion policies.[174] The Nordic Christian Democratic parties did not represent the Lutheran state church but rather non-conformist Christians, and lay activists within the Lutheran state church.[175]

European Christian Democrat's were a significant force in the creation of the European union. Three men who were significant in the beginning of the European project were Konrad Adenauer, Robert Schuman and Alcide De Gasperi, all Christian Democrats.[176] When the Rome Treaty was signed, Christian Democrats were the leading governments in four of the six countries; Germany, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg, and were a part of the coalition government in Netherlands at the time.[176] At least until the mid 1980s, Social Democrats were hostile to the European Union - even in the 1970s, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme called the European Commission "Conservative", "Capitalist", "Clerical" and 'Colonialist'.[177] Indeed, the European union has the ideas of subsidiarity and personalism embedded within it.[178] The influence of Christian Democracy on the European union is such that one academic has called the European union a "Christian Democracy".[179] Alongside the development of the European union was the development of European Christian Democratic parties. This appeared in the 1940s with the Nouvelles Equipes Internationales,[180] which would evolve into the European Union of Christian Democrats in 1965,[181] and then finally the European Peoples Party in 1976.[182]

21st century[edit]

Christian Democratic parties no longer have as much power in European politics.[183] Indeed, in Italy, the Christian Democratic party collapsed.[184] The reasons for the decline in Christian Democracy are multifaceted; in part it is due to European secularization and the loss of a voting base.[185] The death of communism and the rise of neo-liberalism have also dented the movement, and the financial crisis have also shown the flaws in Christian Democratic welfare.[185] Furthermore, immigration and the rise of populism has further put pressure Christian democracy, as it is torn between the right's call for restricts, and the businesses call for an open labor market, and the religious call for more charity to immigrants.[185]

Some Christian democratic parties, particularly in Europe, no longer emphasize religion and have become much more secular in recent years.

Recently, many minor Christian democratic parties, such as the Christian Union, and others across Europe, did not feel represented in the existing political establishment, so they formed a political organization in the European Christian Political Movement.[186] These parties stressed the Christian history of Europe alongside advocating for traditional Christian values and Economic and Environmental Justice.[187]

Many Muslim parties in Muslim countries have looked to the Christian Democratic tradition for Inspiration. The most notable is Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (usually known by the Turkish acronym AKP, for Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi), which is Islamic and has moved towards the tradition.[188] However, this link is questioned, given that AKP’s movement towards Christian Democracy may be to curry the favor of European parties in European Integration, something the European Christian Democrats ultimately shot down.[189] Other Islamic groups that have been linked include the Democratic League of Kosovo[190] and Mohammad Morsi in Egypt.[191] Some Muslim democratic parties embraced by Christian democrats are the National Awakening Party (Indonesia) and the Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats (Phillippines), who have joined the Centrist Democrat International.

Christian democracy around the world[edit]

The international organization of Christian democratic parties, the Centrist Democrat International (CDI), formerly known as the Christian Democratic International, is the second largest international political organization in the world (second only to the Socialist International). European Christian democratic parties have a regional organization called the European People's Party, which forms the largest group in the European Parliament, the European People's Party Group.

Latin America[edit]

Christian Democracy in Latin America has its roots in the early 20th century when some Catholic political parties were founded in various countries. These parties were generally conservative, and their main aim was to protect the interests of the Catholic Church. However, they also advocated social reform and democracy and were opposed to the authoritarian regimes in Latin America then. In the 1930s, Christian Democracy began to take on a more left-wing character as some parties adopted socialist policies. This was in response to the Great Depression, which had hit Latin America particularly hard. Christian Democracy remained a significant force in Latin American politics throughout the 20th century and played an important role in the region's transition to democracy in the 1980s and 1990s. Christian Democracy is still a significant political force in many Latin American countries. It has typically adopted a more centrist position and is now generally supportive of free-market policies. However, it still advocates social justice and equality and is important in the region's political debate.[192]

Christian democracy has been especially important in Chile (see Christian Democratic Party of Chile) and Venezuela (see COPEI – Christian Democratic Party of Venezuela), among others, and partly also in Mexico, starting with the ascendancy of President Vicente Fox in 2000, followed by Felipe Calderón (see National Action Party (Mexico)). Cuba counts several Christian democratic political associations on the island and in exile. Perhaps the most significant is Movimiento Cristiano de Liberación (MCL), led by Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, who was killed in a tragic automobile accident in the summer of 2012 and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In Uruguay, the Christian Democratic Party of Uruguay, although numerically small, was instrumental in creating the leftist Broad Front in 1971.

Central and Eastern Europe[edit]

Poland[edit]

Christian Democratic movements in Poland formed from 1890, and gained increasing prominence from 1916, such that various Christian democratic movements coalesced into the Christian Democratic Party in 1919.[193] The Parties economic program drew from Rerum Novarum and later Quadragesimo anno. The party would encourage cross-class solidarity, co-ownership and codetermination.[194] For the first half of the 1920s the party had considerable influence in government, providing cabinet members and a prime minister.[195] After the coup d’état in 1926, the parties influence worsened. The party would eventually side with the opposition left, and form the Labour party in 1937.[196]

Post Iron Curtain[edit]

After the end of the socialist experience in Central and Eastern Europe, and especially with European integration, many parties from former socialist countries become members of the Christian democratic umbrella organization, the European People's Party (EPP). Examples include the KDU-ČSL in the Czech Republic, the Croatian Democratic Union in Croatia, the Civic Platform in Poland, etc. Hungary's Fidesz was part of the EPP from 2004 to 2021; its leader, Viktor Orbán, claimed Hungary to be a “Christian democracy".[197] Many of those parties pushed for a re-traditionalization of society, pro-family policies, a Bismarckian welfare state, and identity politics based on Christianity while maintaining a pro-European integration attitude.[198] The ideals of Christian Democracy also inspire other Euroskeptic parties, and they are grouped under the umbrella of the European Conservatives and Reformists Party; an example is Law and Justice in Poland.

Britain[edit]

Christian Democracy in the UK was sporadic and un-unified. One group was the Catholic Social Guild, which was established, set up in 1909 to propagate a Catholic alternative to Socialism. They encouraged Catholics to Work within the UK Labour party, and push policies for families, a living wage, social partnership in industry and property diffusion.[199] Another group was the People and Freedom group, which was established during Luigi Sturzo's exile in the UK.[157] They were a largely middle class organization set up in response to pain felt by Catholics with the Spanish civil war. They published their Manifesto, "For Democracy" in 1939.[200] The Catholic worker was another Christian democratic group at the time.[200] In general, British Christian Democrats, especially those in the People and Freedom group, attempted to push the UK Labour Party towards Christian Democracy, and there was a significant attempt by them to portray Christian Democracy as left wing to do so.[201] Ultimately the People and Freedom group failed to do so and became disillusioned with the Labour Party.[202] The Catholic Worker, on the other hand, aimed to making Labour policies acceptable to Catholics.[203] More recently, Christian Peoples Alliance is a Christian democratic party which emphasizes the country's Christian heritage and advocates for the principles of "active compassion, respect for life, social justice, wise stewardship, empowerment, and reconciliation."[204]

Australia[edit]

Christian democratic parties in Australia include the Democratic Labor Party and arguably the Christian Democratic Party.

The Democratic Labor Party was formed in 1955 as a split from the Australian Labor Party (ALP). In Victoria and New South Wales, state executive members, parliamentarians, and branch members associated with the Industrial Groups or B. A. Santamaria and "The Movement" (and therefore strongly identified with Roman Catholicism) were expelled from the party. They formed the Democratic Labor Party (DLP). Later in 1957, a similar split occurred in Queensland, with the resulting group joining the DLP. The party also had sitting members from Tasmania and New South Wales at various times, though it was much stronger in the states mentioned above. The Democratic Labor Party (DLP) did not claim to be a Christian Democratic party, but it has been considered such by historians of Christian democracy,[205] and B. A. Santamaria was himself a Christian Democrat.[206] The party's goals were anti-communism, the decentralization of industry, population, administration, and ownership.[207] In its view that the ALP was filled with communists, the party decided it would prefer the ruling conservative Liberal and Country parties over the ALP.[208] However, it was more morally conservative, militantly anti-communist, and socially compassionate than the Liberals. The DLP heavily lost ground in the federal election of 1974 that saw its primary vote cut by nearly two-thirds and the election of an ALP government. The DLP never regained its previous support in subsequent elections and formally disbanded in 1978, but a small group within the party refused to accept this decision and created a small, reformed successor party (now the Democratic Labour Party). Though his party was effectively gone, Santamaria and his National Civic Council took a strong, opposed stance to dominant Third Way/neoliberal/New Right tendencies within the ALP and Liberal parties throughout the eighties and early nineties.

In 2006, the new DLP experienced a resurgence. The successor party struggled through decades of Victorian elections before finally gaining a parliamentary seat when the Victorian upper house was redesigned. Nevertheless, its electoral support is still minimal in Victoria (around 2%). It has recently reformed state parties in Queensland and New South Wales. In the 2010 Australian federal election, the DLP won the sixth senate seat in Victoria, giving it representation in the Australian Senate.[209]

The former Christian Democratic Party (initially known as the "Call to Australia" party) is identified with the strongly religious conservative end of the Australian political spectrum.[210] It is associated in the media with the Christian Right[211] over Christian Democracy.

South Korea[edit]

South Korean "liberals" historically refer to political forces that have supported political liberal democracy against Japan's colonial rule and far-right dictatorship but disagree with socialism.

Christianity is generally regarded as an outside religion in East Asia, so no major party advocates "Christian democracy" in South Korea. However, some South Korean liberals, like those in the Democratic Party of Korea, show a little social liberal tendency economically, but in consideration of the conservative South Korean society are generally socially conservative and are affected by Christianity. This is distinct from the Confucian social conservatism of South Korean "conservatives".[212]

North America[edit]

The American Solidarity Party is a minor third party in the United States that identifies as a Christian democratic party.[213]

The Center for Public Justice is a Christian democratic public policy organization that advocates to "bring the principles of a Christian worldview to bear on the political realm."[214]

See also[edit]

International Christian democratic organizations[edit]

Related concepts[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "This is the Christian Democratic tradition and the structural pluralist concepts that underlie it. The Roman Catholic social teaching of subsidiarity and its related concepts, as well as the parallel neo-Calvinist concept of sphere sovereignty, play major roles in structural pluralist thought."[3]
    "Concurrent with this missionary movement in Africa, both Protestant and Catholic political activists helped to restore democracy to war-torn Europe and extend it overseas. Protestant political activism emerged principally in England, the Lowlands, and Scandinavia under the inspiration of both social gospel movements and neo-Calvinism. Catholic political activism emerged principally in Italy, France, and Spain under the inspiration of both Rerum Novarum and its early progeny and of neo-Thomism. Both formed political parties, which now fall under the general aegis of the Christian Democratic Party movement. Both Protestant and Catholic parties inveighed against the reductionist extremes and social failures of liberal democracies and social democracies. Liberal democracies, they believed, had sacrificed the community for the individual; social democracies had sacrificed the individual for the community. Both parties returned to a traditional Christian teaching of "social pluralism" or "subsidiarity," which stressed the dependence and participation of the individual in family, church, school, business, and other associations. Both parties stressed the responsibility of the state to respect and protect the "individual in community."[4]
  2. ^ Pentecostals have also secured parliamentary representation in countries such as Australia, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Peru, and have helped form Christian political parties that have won parliamentary seats. A noteworthy case is Sweden's Christian Democrats party, not only because it is in a continent where Pentecostals have struggled to make political headway but also because its Pentecostal founder, Lewi Pethrus, who challenged secularization by creating institutions to foster a Christian counterculture, was active at a time when Pentecostals in Sweden or the United States shunned politics.[6]
  3. ^ The basic tenets of Christian democracy call for applying Christian principles to public policy; Christian democratic parties tend to be socially conservative but otherwise left of center with respect to economic and labor issues, civil rights, and foreign policy.[8]
  4. ^ Conservatives, including the Christian Democrats, favor an abstinence strategy that aims at a controlled use of legal drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, and medical drugs, on the one hand, and prohibiting the use of illegal drugs (whether soft or hard), on the other.[15][16]
  5. ^ The main ideological and integrative theme present from the start concerned an emphasis on general Christian values, both as a moral rejection of the atheist, immoral and materialist Nazism and as a manner of distinction vis à vis social democracy. The thrust of the Christian democratic argument was that politics had to be founded in Christianity and that a moral recovery was a prerequisite for social and economic recuperation. It was imperative to concede the importance of Christian ethics after an epoch of such inhuman and atheist cruelty.(Heidenheimer 1960:33-4; Mintzel 1982:133)[17]
  6. ^ European Christian Democracy after the Second World War really represented a common political front against the People's Democracies, that is, Christian Democracy was a kind of ecumenical unity achieved on the religious level against the atheism of the government in the Communist countries.[19]
  7. ^ The Christian democrats promoted a corporatist welfare state, based on the principles of the so-called "sphere sovereignty" and "subsidiarity" in social policy.[83]

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  213. ^ Longenecker 2016:In 2011 the Christian Democratic Party USA was formed, and after the 2012 election it was re-named as the American Solidarity Party. Small political parties in the United States do not have a great track record, but given the choices available to Christians, the American Solidarity Party may offer a way to vote according to one's conscience and according to their simple motto: Common Good. Common Ground. Common Sense.
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Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Gehler, Michael; Kaiser, Wolfram (2004a), Political Catholicism in Europe 1918–1945, Routledge, ISBN 0-7146-5650-X
  • Gehler, Michael; Kaiser, Wolfram (2004b), Christian Democracy in Europe since 1945, Routledge, ISBN 0-7146-5662-3
  • Gehler, Michael; Kaiser, Wolfram; Wohnout, Helmut, eds. (2001), Christdemokratie in Europa im 20. Jahrhundert / Christian Democracy in 20th Century Europe, Böhlau Verlag, ISBN 3-205-99360-8
  • Invernizzi Accetti, Carlo (2019). What is Christian Democracy?: Politics, Religion and Ideology. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kaiser, Wolfram (2007), Christian Democracy and the Origins of European Union, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-88310-8
  • Kaiser, Wolfram; Kosicki, Piotr (2021). Political Exile in the Global Twentieth Century: Catholic Christian Democrats in Europe and the Americas. Belgium: S.l.: LEUVEN UNIVERSITY PRESS. p. 21. ISBN 978-946-27030-70.

External links[edit]

Key Texts[edit]

Other Resources[edit]