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- Conflicts and Continuities.
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Find out more about your rights as a buyer - opens in a new window or tab and exceptions - opens in a new window or tab. Postage and packaging. This item will post to Germany , but the seller hasn't specified postage options. Usually, the government is composed of people with administrative or military experience. Party politicians in a constitutional monarchy have no direct influence on governmental actions.
Formally, by the letter of their respective constitutions, Meiji Japan , the Ottoman and the Russian Empire were constitutional monarchies as well — but not in practice. But several dissolutions of the State Duma the Russian parliament , and electoral reforms favouring large landowners and, thus, conservative parties, prevented a clear break with autocratic traditions. Neither the State Duma nor political parties had any substantial influence on government , which was led by bureaucrats and courtiers. Except for Portugal , a republic since and belligerent only from onwards, France was the only democratic republic until the United States entered the war in The French Third Republic was characterized by a strong National Assembly with a multi-party system and, as a result, weak governments — fourteen between and the start of the war.
The following sections will compare examples of the major belligerent countries with different political regimes. They will focus on how they sought to solve the problems of constructing and preserving national unity in the face of conflicting party interests and of keeping parliamentary support for the government or putting a more effective government into place.
Did the political strategies in countries, which according to Huntington, qualify as democratic differ from those who do not? The place where national unity and solidarity was expressed in most cases was the national parliament as the body representing the people. Even countries that entered later, such as Italy or Portugal, tended to reproduce the same pattern.
In most cases, this also meant that national party competition was suspended, i. In Britain , for example, not even the entire Liberal Party, not even all cabinet members, supported the decision to go to war against Germany, although after the German invasion of Belgium intra-party opposition weakened significantly. And, more importantly, the major opposition party, the Conservative Unionists, supported the government from the beginning of the war.
A modern industrial war cannot be waged for any period of time without the support of the working classes. And the socialist parties, on the other hand, were faced with the choice either to oppose the national war effort or to support it. At the beginning of the war this support was usually expressed by voting for war credits. But in , the growing opposition no longer followed the majority and, consequently, split in , when the minority was excluded from the SPD and founded their own party, the Independent Social Democratic Party USPD.
This distinguished them from both the Russian and the Italian socialists. In both these countries the split between reformists and revolutionaries had occurred in The separation of Bolsheviks and Mensheviks had been caused by differences over purely ideological and strategical questions. This caused some prominent defections, most notably that of Benito Mussolini , but did not damage party unity. Only in , after the defeat at the Battle of Caporetto , did the majority of the parliamentary PSI rally to the defence of the Italian fatherland. Both, Bolsheviks and the majority of Mensheviks, opposed the war; but they had so few deputies in the State Duma that the Russian government seemed to think this opposition could be dealt with by the traditional instruments of repression.
While the internal development of socialist parties can hardly be attributed to the different political regimes of their respective countries, their different positions to the national governments had to do with the character of the regimes. In Germany, for instance, where the SPD had been banned and persecuted under the Socialist Law in the s, the party majority remained convinced that it was impossible for socialists to cooperate with the national or state governments and that, eventually, universal suffrage — even in Prussia — would lead the way to socialist majorities and a socialist society.
The moderates who wanted to reform the existing political system step by step were a relatively small minority in the party although their influence on the actual political practice was much greater than the official revolutionary rhetoric suggested. For such a fundamentalist opposition party, the assent to the war credits was a great step towards integration into a bourgeois political system.
But since Germany was a constitutional monarchy, there was no question of SPD politicians entering government. In contrast, for French socialists to cooperate with and even participate in government was not such a big step. Until , when the SFIO was founded, French socialists had been organized in several moderate and revolutionary parties and for some of them cooperation with the bourgeois left went back to the beginning of the 20 th century.
With Jules Guesde and Marcel Sembat , two leading socialists entered the French government in In semi-autocratic Russia, on the other hand, a similar integration of the socialist opposition was neither desired nor possible. In any political system with a separation of powers, parliament is not only concerned with legislation but it also supervises and controls the executive in order to check its power. In a parliamentary system, this function is mostly fulfilled by the opposition while the government is supported by the majority in parliament.
In a semi-autocratic monarchy, however, parliamentary control is limited and ineffective. During the war it was difficult for some national parliaments to fulfil their function. Periods of adjournment were in some cases much longer than usual in peacetime. Whereas in Britain the House of Commons was in session almost as much as in peacetime,  the German Reichstag was adjourned immediately after the historical session of 4 August and only called back into session in December to vote for the second war credit bill and again in March Since spring the budget committee was called the Main Committee and from it sat permanently even when the Reichstag was not in session.
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A deviant case with respect to parliamentary control was Austria where the parliament , the Reichsrat , had been adjourned even before the war and was not called back into session until May Only after the defeat at Caporetto did parliament try to retrieve some control over government. Clearly, the different solutions to the problem of parliamentary control did not depend on the political system given that Germany and Austria, both constitutional monarchies, adopted quite different strategies, the German one being more similar to that of the French Republic than to the Austrian model.
Some traditional conflicts may have been put aside by the outbreak of war and subdued by national unity; others, such as ethnic conflicts, were not — or at least not for long. This is as true for the Irish question in Britain as for the question of political representation of the Slavic peoples in the Habsburg Empire.
In addition to such older divisions, new ones were generated by the war and were expressed by political parties — which, after all, did not disappear with the different national truces. These new conflicts usually related to the issue of whether the war was being led in the most effective manner.
German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg was criticized by the nationalist right in the summer of because he had persuaded the emperor to abandon unrestricted submarine warfare , a counter measure against the British blockade of the North Sea. Bethmann Hollweg feared that this kind of submarine warfare would lead to war with the USA, which in turn could tip the balance in favour of the Entente powers.
It is thus fair to say that in virtually every belligerent country, quite irrespective of the nature of the political system, the political reality below the great umbrella of national unity in war was characterized by conflicts between the parties on the one hand and between parties and governments on the other.
In Germany, it was a commonly held belief that the country would prevail in a long-lasting war against democracies like France and Britain simply because it was better governed. The underlying assumption was that authoritarian states, such as the constitutional monarchies of Germany and Austria-Hungary, would be governed more efficiently than democracies where party strife would lead to internal conflicts, which would in turn undermine the war effort.
However, the assumption that authoritarian governments would be better suited for this task proved false. Even a brief comparison of how the paradigmatic cases, i. France and Germany, dealt with the problems of appointing new governments in times of crisis reveals huge differences. The parliamentary system of the French Third Republic had always been marked by frequent changes of government and thus of cabinets.
All of these changes were more or less directly related to military setbacks and their effect on popular support for the war. But real crisis struck in spring and summer of when the Nivelle Offensive failed and mutinies within the French army not only spread widely but also sparked strikes in many factories central to the war effort.
But, in fact, this new cabinet had even less support in the Assembly than the previous one. The socialists had withdrawn their support after they were prohibited from sending a delegation to the peace conference organized by the Socialist International in neutral Sweden , which in the end was cancelled. Second, it seems to corroborate the German prejudice that democracies like France were able to produce only weak governments unable to lead the country to victory.
However, this is not the whole story. As in most belligerent states, the French executive dominated politics during the war and, more than any of his predecessors, Clemenceau dominated decision-making within the executive. This was helped by the fact that his cabinet was mainly composed of loyal political allies. Parliament, however, did not lose its prerogative for which Clemenceau himself had fought as a senator. As minister of war — like his predecessor Clemenceau held both offices, prime minister and minister of war — he reformed the ministry and re-established civilian authority over the army command.
The former Crown Prince ignored the fact that the other major democracies at war with Germany had achieved similar governmental changes to those in France. Lloyd George relied on Conservative, Labour and Liberal support in parliament, but accepted that national unity had been somewhat tainted by his alienation of large parts of his own Liberal Party. Most Liberal supporters of Asquith withdrew to the backbenches and their support of the new government remained equivocal.
As Lloyd George remained in office past the end of the war, Britain, just like France a year later, had effectively installed a stable and efficient government. The contrast to the German case could hardly be bigger. As Germany was a constitutional monarchy, the government led by Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg since did not formally depend on the support of parliament.
Yet during the war the situation had changed. The Reichstag as the representative of the people was an essential symbol of national unity and any chancellor who could not rely on the support of, at least, a majority in parliament would be untenable. Underneath the surface of Burgfrieden , the German Reichstag was deeply divided. On the one hand, there was the nationalist right, Conservatives and National Liberals, who fiercely demanded a peace of victory and conquest and opposed constitutional reform.
On the other hand, there was the left, Social Democrats and at least a majority of Left Liberals, who favoured constitutional reform and a peace of reconciliation, consequently objecting to annexations and conquests. The Catholic Centre Party stood between these two political camps, leaning at times more to one or the other direction. This was due to his opposition and abandonment of unrestricted submarine warfare in and And additionally, the promises of the Naval High Command that unrestricted submarine warfare which had re-started in January , would force Britain to seek peace within six months had been proven false.
As a result, a new parliamentary majority consisting of Social Democrats, Left Liberals, and the Centre Party drafted a resolution stating that the German people were prepared to end unrestricted submarine warfare and to accept a negotiated peace without annexations or reparations. Of course, both the content and the implication of the Peace Resolution  were fiercely opposed by the parties on the right. In this situation the Kaiser , Wilhelm II, German Emperor did not appoint a new chancellor who would unite the country behind the parliamentary majority but one chosen and favoured by the Military High Command , which had for quite some time advocated the dismissal of Bethmann Hollweg.
The new chancellor, Georg Michaelis , never intended to follow the Peace Resolution although he paid some lip service to the majority parties. He lasted only three months in office. The main symbol of national unity in war was the Chief of the High Command, Paul von Hindenburg , and not any civilian leader. Similarly, the prime ministers in the other major non-democratic belligerent states, Austria and Russia, were a succession of bureaucrats or courtiers, none of whom could win a role as a national leader comparable to Clemenceau or Lloyd George.
Which, in turn, suggests that, although in all belligerent states the executive branch of government was vastly extended in scope and competences, the importance of parliaments and parties in the political process made an important difference on how the political system was able to cope with the new challenges of war. It seems evident today that governments who send their male citizens to fight in war could not refuse them the right to vote. Indeed, the record seems to support this logic of granting voting rights in exchange for military service.
In many belligerent states franchise reforms were introduced either during the war or in the immediate aftermath, reducing age restrictions in such a way that all male legal adults were eligible to vote. In the non-democratic belligerent states, electoral reform proved impossible. In Germany,  Austria, and Russia universal suffrage for legal adults including women was only introduced after the respective revolutions in or On the contrary, in the English-speaking democracies of the United States and Canada , electoral reforms enfranchising women were enacted in and , before the end of the war or soon after.
And in France, where there had been universal male suffrage since , a bill enfranchising women was passed in National Assembly in but failed to win a majority in the Senate. This — quite incomplete — list shows three things: First, there is a tendency inherent in democracies to include all citizens in the process of political participation. There may be resistance of those privileged by voting restrictions, but in the long run it is impossible to ignore the egalitarian logic of democracy. Second, in quite a few belligerent states the war helped to overcome this kind of resistance against equality of suffrage and to supply new justifications for equality.
It accelerated change, but did not cause it. Third, in this respect the authoritarian governments proved quite unable to adapt to the necessities of modern mass politics. To some extent the national party systems of European countries differed, of course, as a result of the varying social problems in these countries. Hence all generalizations are to be treated with caution. However, the major ideological party families were represented in most European countries: conservative, liberal, and socialist labour parties existed practically everywhere, even though the ideological position and strength of parties of the same family varied enormously.
Some developments in the evolution of party systems were peculiar to specific countries. For instance, that the traditional two-party system in Britain was sustained after the war aided by the British first-past-the-post electoral system , but that the liberal party was supplanted by the labour party as the main antagonist to the Tories had been precipitated by the split over the issue of how to wage the war between Asquithian and Lloyd Georgian liberals. This raises the question as to what extent the war engendered rise of these anti-democratic ideological political movements.
As has been described above,  the conflict between reformist and revolutionary socialism was not new. The split of socialist parties along these lines had occurred in Russia as well as Italy even before the war. Consequently, it can safely be assumed that the war did not cause the split in the socialist movement and the rise of communist parties throughout Europe.