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Chapter Twelve. The Democratic Experience

John Garrard

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405113205.2006.00016.x


This chapter will focus on the experience of the political elites presiding over whatever liberalization and democratization there was, and of the adult population participating in the politics that resulted. I will examine not just enfranchisement and elections, but also experience within the civil associations now often seen as underpinning viable liberal democracy. I shall concentrate on experiences in Britain, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Italy, and Russia. However, first we should explore the political and social contexts wherein, at vastly contrasting rates, this experience began. Widely varying political regimes found themselves in situations where none was immune from having to react, flexibly or inflexibly, conservatively or liberally, to ever-growing pressures for the popularization of their political systems. These ranged from France's temporarily revolutionary and democratic regime in 1789 through constitutional, parliamentary, albeit deeply oligarchic, systems like Britain's and Norway's, where monarchical power, though still often highly significant, had been limited for some time, to the varyingly absolutist and heavily monarch-centered regimes across most of Europe. Democratization theorists would see initial regimes as important: authoritarian, still more totalitarian, regimes, and the cultures they tend to produce, are generally less friendly to democratic development ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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