Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The Rise and Fall of Christian Democracy in Europe

The Rise and Fall of Christian Democracy in Europe


The role of Christian Democratic parties after World War II in helping to build stable parliamentary regimes in Western Europe deserves attention simply for their ability to survive. Such parties took root in Catholic countries and electorates and incorporated electoral organizations from the early twentieth century. After the war, Christian Democrats provided an alternative to the large Communist parties that were particularly strong in France and Italy. They also represented a link to the European past that was not implicated in the crimes of the Nazi era. Germany’s Christian Democracy has proven the most successful of its kind. It moved beyond its original Catholic base to include a significant Protestant minority. And it has survived amidst the social and cultural changes and charges of corruption that have reduced their counterparts elsewhere to a secondary parliamentary force.

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