Lecture 5: Political development and democratisation

A. Introduction

Political change c. 1880-1920: Why so late; why so rapid; why without revolution?

B. Political developments

Norway, Denmark and Sweden - not Finland: (a) struggle for modern parliamentary government and political democracy (b) rise of social democracy

1. Norway
Democracy and independence from Sweden: leader, Johan Sverdrup. 1884: parliamentary government established. 1898: universal manhood suffrage. 1901: votes for women in local elections. 1905: independence. 1913: full suffrage (men and women).

Norwegian Labour Party founded 1887. 1903: first parliamentary representation; 32% of vote by 1916. 1919-23: member of Communist International. Formed minority govt. in 1928 (8 days); in govt again 1935-65.

Why so radical until 1930s? Explanations (see J. Ryssevik in L. Karvonen & J. Sundberg (eds.), Social Democracy in Transition): (a) late and rapid industrialisation (b) early democratisation (c) openness of party organisation (d) broader political developments.

2. Denmark

1848: democratic constitution. 1866: conservative amendment. 1872: formation of Liberal (Venstre - i.e. 'Left') Party. Conflict between parliament and govt. of J.B.S. Estrup - defence issue. 1901: 'System change': first democratically elected (Liberal) govt.

Danish Social Democratic Party established 1878. Cooperation with Liberals. 33% of vote by 1920. Formed minority govt 1924-6; in govt with Radical Liberals 1929-40 (and again post-WW2). Reformist, pragmatic, uninterested in ideology or theory.

3. Sweden

1866: Parliamentary reform. 1867: Farmers' Party. 1889: Social Democratic Party: Hjalmar Branting co-founder, first MP (1896) and chairman (from 1907). 1902: Liberal Party. 1904: Conservative Party. 1911-14: Liberal govt. under Karl Staaff. Conflict with Conservatives and King Gustav V on defence question. Feb. 1914: Farmers' demonstration and king's 'palace yard speech', Resignation of Staaff; formation of govt. by Hjalmar Hammarskjöld. Sept. 1917: formation of first parliamentary govt. (Liberal/Social Democrat); Nov. 1918: parliamentary reform, universal suffrage.

Social Democratic Party in govt. during 1920s and again 1932-76.

C. Interpretations

1. Weakness of the Right (Frank Castles, The Social Democratic Image of Society)

2. Class alliances (Gøsta Esping-Andersen, Politics against Markets: The Social Democratic Road to Power)