Common Destiny: A Comparative History of the Dutch, French, and German Social Democratic Parties, 1945-1969

By Dietrich Orlow | Go to book overview

Chapter Four
PARTIES IN FLUX,
1946-1957

The end of postwar euphoria confronted the West European Social Democrats with new challenges for which neither their history nor their ideology had prepared them. Once convinced that Democratic Socialism was the master of the hour, the Social Democrats came to realize that a majority of voters in France, West Germany, and Holland did not share their teleological expectations. As a result, the Socialists' sense of unrealistic optimism was replaced by a mixture of self-delusion, pessimism, and efforts to meet the unforeseen challenges with new ideas and new structures. 1


Party Profiles

Changes in membership patterns provided one of the first indications that European Socialism had entered a new era. Historically the three parties were mass membership organizations whose activists were committed to practice and propagandize socialism. After the war, all three parties, viewing themselves as the institutionalization of democratic progressivism had expected a sharp rise in members, but the reverse was true. Both the SFIO's and the SPD's membership dropped dramatically. The SFIO's membership declined continuously and precipitously from 335,700 in 1945 to 91,100 in 1955. The number of SPD members, which had been 875,000 in 1947 had fallen to around 600,000 in 1953. The PvdA was the only one of the three parties which was able to increase

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Common Destiny: A Comparative History of the Dutch, French, and German Social Democratic Parties, 1945-1969
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vi
  • Abberviations viii
  • Introduction 1
  • Parallel Pasts - Founding to 1945 9
  • The Making of a Tertiary Industrial Society, 1945-1969 29
  • Euphoria, Disillusionment, and Adaptation, 1945-1949 44
  • Parties in Flux, 1946-1957 65
  • Domestic Affairs, 1945-1955 102
  • Foreign Relations, 1945-1955 139
  • The End of the Long Decade - Crisis and Response, 1955-1961 183
  • The Troubled 1960s 224
  • Conclusion 272
  • Notes 281
  • Bibliography 327
  • Index 360
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