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Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11, Slice 8 "Germany" to "Gibson, William"

Baden and Hesse their influence was very great


Political bargaining.

Political parties now came to represent interests rather than principles. The government, in order to pass its measures, was obliged to purchase the votes by class legislation, and it bought those with whom it could make the best bargain--these being generally the Centre, as the ablest tacticians, and the Conservatives, as having the highest social position and being boldest in declaring their demands. No great parliamentary leader took the place of Windthorst, Lasker and Bennigsen; the extra-parliamentary societies, less responsible and more violent, grew in influence. The Anti-Semites gained in numbers, though not in reputation. The Conservatives, hoping to win votes, even adopted an anti-Semite clause in their programme. The general tendency among the numerous societies of Christian Socialism, which broke up almost as quickly as they appeared, was to drift from the alliance with the ultra-Conservatives and to adopt the economic and many of the political doctrines of the Social Democrats. The _National-Sozialer Verein_ defended the union of Monarchy and Socialism. Meanwhile the extreme spirit of nationality was fostered by the _All-deutscher Verein_, the policy of which would quickly involve Germany in war with every other nation. More than once the feelings to which they gave expression endangered the relations of Germany and Austria-Hungary. The persecution of the Poles in Prussia naturally aroused indignation in Austria,

where the Poles had for long been among the strongest elements on which the government depended; and it was not always easy to prevent the agitation on behalf of the Germans in Bohemia from assuming a dangerous aspect.

In the disintegration of parties the Liberals suffered most. The unity of the Conservatives was preserved by social forces and the interests of agriculture; the decay of the Liberals was the result of universal suffrage. Originally the opponents of the landed interest and the nobility, they were the party of the educated middle class, of the learned, of the officials and finance. They never succeeded in winning the support of the working men. They had identified themselves with the interests of the capitalists, and were not even faithful to their own principles. In the day of their power they showed themselves as intolerant as their opponents had been. They resorted to the help of the government in order to stamp out the opinions with which they disagreed, and the claims of the artisans to practical equality were rejected by them, as in earlier days the claims of the middle class had been by the nobles.

The Centre alone maintained itself. Obliged by their constitution to regard equally the material interests of all classes--for they represent rich and poor, peasants and artisans--they were the natural support of the government when it attempted to find a compromise between the clamour of opposing interests. Their own demands were generally limited to the defence of order and religion, and to some extent coincided with the wishes of the emperor; but every attempt to introduce legislation in accordance with their wishes led to a conflict with the educated opinion of the country, which was very detrimental to the authority of the government. In the state parliaments of Bavaria, Baden and Hesse their influence was very great. There was, moreover, a tendency for local parties to gain in numbers and influence--the _Volkspartei_ in Wurttemberg, the Anti-Semites in Hesse, and the _Bauernbund_ (Peasants' League) in Bavaria. The last demanded that the peasants should be freed from the payment to the state, which represented the purchase price for the remission of feudal burdens. It soon lost ground, however, partly owing to personal reasons, and partly because the Centre, in order to maintain their influence among the peasants, adopted some features of their programme.


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