European Parties and the European Integration Process, 1945–1992

by Lucia Bonfreschi (Volume editor) Giovanni Orsina (Volume editor) Antonio Varsori (Volume editor)
©2015 Conference proceedings 422 Pages
Series: Euroclio, Volume 90


The present volume brings together three different traditions of historical study: national politics, European integration, and political parties. Since the 1980s, there has been an enlargement of the scope of political history. This attempt to transcend national boundaries can intersect with the new strands of European integration history, paying much more attention to transnational perspectives and forces. The chapters comprised in this book attempt to forge a dialogue between these new methodologies and the study of political parties in manifold ways. Firstly, in the study of party foreign and European politics – how parties have perceived themselves as belonging not only to the national political game, but also to a wider transnational, and European one. Secondly, party history can transcend national boundaries through the study of international and European party cooperation. Thirdly, it can offer worthwhile avenues of study on how political families deal with European integration not along ideological cleavages but along national ones. This volume fills a crucial gap of European historiography by comparing parties’ discourses/platforms/policies on European integration and by developing national, comparative and transnational approaches.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acronyms
  • Introduction
  • Part I: The Left Wing Parties
  • SPD and European Integration. From scepticism to pragmatism, from pragmatism to leadership, 1949-1979
  • The impossible Third Force. Italian and French socialism and Europe, 1943-1963
  • A Socialist Europe? Democratic Socialist Party Ideas and the Process of European Integration 1960-1973
  • The Dutch Labour Party in the 1970s. Calling for European integration with a human face
  • The Europeanism of the PSOE from the Anti-Francoist Choice to the Social Democratic Transformation of the Party (1977-1992)
  • In Search of Supranational Cooperation. The Socialist Group in the European Parliament and the EEC’s Southern Enlargement
  • ‘Westpolitik’. Eurocommunism, and the Evolution of the Western European Communists’ Positions toward European Integration
  • The PCI and the European Integration from Eurocommunism to Berlinguer’s death
  • Political History of a Cultural Heritage. The Ex-“Azionisti” and the Idea of Europe in Italian Political Parties
  • Part II: The Centre And Right-Wing Parties
  • “Our sole commitment is to negotiate; no more, no less”. The Conservative Party and Britain’s Entry into the EEC
  • The Gaullist Party and Europe. Political Divisions and Strategies for the Reacquisition of Power, 1976-1992
  • The French centrists and the European elections of 1979-1989. Playing the “European card” to avoid bipartisanship?
  • “From Mistrust to Cooperation”. Relations between the Christian Democratic and Conservative Parties at the European Level in the 1970s-1990s
  • Internationalism and Europeanism in the Ideology of European Liberalism, 1945-1989
  • Transnational Cooperation of Liberal Parties in Europe, 1945-1976
  • Euroright. The Extreme Right in the European Integration Process, 1979-1989
  • PART III: Case Studies
  • “Europe” as a “Hothouse” for Dutch Domestic Politics, 1948-1967
  • Nationalism and Europeanism. Political Catalanism and the Spain-Europe Relationship, 1949-1986
  • The Celtic Tiger Prepares to Roar. Irish Parties, Leaders and European Integration, 1961-1992
  • Central European émigré Party and the European integration
  • The Genesis of a Supranational Representation. The Formation of Political Groups at the Common Assembly of the ECSC, 1952-1958
  • Notes on contributors
  • Series Index


AABArbeiderbevegelsens arkiv og bibliotek
ABAArbejdermuseet & Arbejderbevægelsens Bibliotek og Arkiv
ACDPArchiv für Christlich-Demokratische Politik
ACENAssembly of Captive European Nations
AdSDArchiv der Sozialen Demokratie
AECEAsociación Española de Cooperación Europea
AISMLArchivio dell’Istituto per la Storia del Movimento liberale
ALArchiv des Liberalismus
APAlianza Popular
ARABArbetarrörelsens arkiv och bibliotek, Stockholm
ARPAntirevolutionaire Partij
ASCDArchivio Storico della Camera dei deputati
BeneluxCustoms union Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg
CAPCommon Agricultural Policy
CARDOCCentre archivistique et documentaire du Parlement européen
CCMEConsell Català del Moviment Europeu
CDCentre Démocrate
CDAChristen-Democratisch Appèl
CDCConvergència Democràtica de Catalunya
CDPCentre, Démocratie et Progrès
CDSCentre des Démocrates Sociaux (France)
CDSCentro Democratico y Social (Portugal)
CDUChristlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands
CEPCongress for European People
CESPECentro studi di politica economica (of PCI)
CESPI Centro Studi di Politica Internazionale (of PCI) ← 11 | 12 →
CFEMEConsejo Federal Español del Movimiento Europeo
CGILConfederazione generale italiana del lavoro
CGTConfederation générale du travail
CHUChristelijk-Historische Unie
CISCommonwealth of Independent States
CiUConvergència i Unió
COMISCO Committee of the International Socialist Conferences
CPConservative Party
CPPEEuropean Parliament Press Cuttings Fond
CPSUCommunist Party of the Soviet Union
CSCECommission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
CSCEConference for Security and Cooperation in Europe
CSPECConfederation of the Socialist Parties of the European Community
CSPECConfederation of the Socialist Parties of the European Community
CSUChristlich-Soziale Union in Bayern e. V.
CSVChrëschtlech Sozial Vollekspartei
CVPChristelijke Volkspartij (Belgium)
CVPChristlichdemokratische Volkspartei der Schweiz (Switzerland)
D66Democraten 66
DCDemocrazia cristiana
DDRDeutsche Demokratische Republik
DIFEDéfense des Intérêts de la France en Europe
DNADet norske arbeiderparti
DRPDeutsche Reichspartei
ECEuropean Community
ECSCEuropean Coal and Steel Community
EDCEuropean Defence Community
EDUEuropean Democratic Union
EECEuropean Economic Community ← 12 | 13 →
EFMEuropean Federalist Movement
EFTAEuropean Free Trade Association
ELDEuropean Liberal Democrats
ELEC European League for Economic Cooperation
EMSEuropean Monetary System
EMUEconomic and Monetary Union
ENIEnte nazionale idrocarburi
EPEuropean Parliament
EPCEuropean Political Community
EPCEuropean Political Cooperation
EPENEthniki Politiki Enosis
EPPEuropean People’s Party
EPP-EDEuropean People’s Party – European Democrats
ERCEsquerra Republicana de Catalunya
ESMEuropean Social Movement
ETAEuskadi ta Askatasuna
EUEuropean Union
EUAEuropean Union Archives, Florence
EUCDEuropean Union of Christian Democrats
EUFEuropean Union of Federalists
EURATOMEuropean Atomic Energy Community
EWGEuropäische Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft
FDPFrei Demokratische Partei Deutschlands
FGFine Gael
FMAFinn Moes arkiv
FNFront National
FNSEAFédération nationale des syndicats d’exploitants agricoles
FPÖFreiheitliche Partei Österreichs
FRGFederal Republic of Germany
FTAFree Trade Area ← 13 | 14 →
G6-G7Group of Industrialized Nations
GDPGross Domestic Product
GMPGiovanni Malagodi papers
GSEPSocialist Group in the European Parliament
GSPEGroupe socialiste au Parlement européen
GUCEGazzetta ufficiale delle Comunità europee (Official Journal of the European Communities)
HAEUHistorical Archives of the European Union
HAUSFHistorical Archives of the Ugo Spirito Foundation
IDUInternational Democrat Union
IISH International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam
IMFInternational Monetary Fund
IMPsIntegrated Mediterranean Projects
IRIIstituto per la ricostruzione industriale
ISInternational Socialist
ISMFItalian Social Movement Fond
JEJeune Europe
KOKKansallinen Kokoomus
KVPKatholieke Volksparij
LAMBritish Labour Party’s archives
LBLiaison Bureau (CSPEC)
LILiberal International
MACMouvement d’action civique
MEPMember of the European Parliament
MLEUMouvement Libéral Pour l’Europe Unie
MPMember of Parliament
MRPMouvement Républicain Populaire
MSIMovimento Sociale Italiano
MSI-DNMovimento Sociale Italiano-Destra Nazionale ← 14 | 15 →
MSpModerata Samlingspartiet
NATONorth Atlantic Treaty Organization
NEINouvelles Equipes Internationales
NEONew European Order
NPDNationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands
NPENational Party of Europe
NRNysvenska Rörelsen
ODESSAOrganisation Der Ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen
OECDOrganisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
OEECOrganisation for European Economic Cooperation
OPAOlof Palmes arkiv
ÖVPÖsterreichische Volkspartei
PASOKPanellenio Sosialistiko Kinema
PCEPartido Comunista de España
PCFParti Communiste Français
PCIPartito Comunista Italiano
PDPartito Democratico
PdAPartito d’Azione
PDSPartito Democratico della Sinistra
PESParty of European Socialists
PFNParti des Forces Nouvelles
PHAPer Hækkerups arkiv
PKAPer Kleppes arkiv
PLIPartito Liberale Italiano
POUMPartido Obrero de Unificación Marxista
PPRPolitike Partij Radikale
PPSPolska Partia Socjalistyczna
PRParti Républicain (France)
PRPartito Radicale (Italy)
PRIPartito Repubblicano Italiano
PRIONorwegian International Peace Research Institute
PRW “NiD”Polski Ruch Wolnościowy “Niepodległość i Demokracja” ← 15 | 16 →
PSParti Socialiste
PSCParti Social Chrétien
PSDIPartito Socialista Democratico Italiano
PSIPartito Socialista Italiano
PSIUPPartito socialista italiano di unità proletaria
PSLIPartito Socialista dei Lavoratori Italiani
PSOEPartido Socialista Obrero Español
PS-SIISPartito Socialista-Sezione Italiana dell’Internazionale Socialista
PSUPartito Socialista Unitario
PUFPolish Union of Federalists
PvdAPartij van de Arbeid
QMVQualified Majority Voting
REPDie Republikaner
RNPRassemblement National Populaire
RPRRassemblement pour la République
SAMAKArbeiderbevegelsens nordiske samarbeidskomité
SAPSveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti (Socialdemokraterna)
SDSocialdemokratiet (Denmark)
SDAPSociaal-democratische Arbeiderspartij
SEASingle European Act
SFIOSection française de l’Internationale ouvrière
SISocialist International
SIISocialist International Information
SILOSocialist Information and Liaison Office
SMUSESocialist Movement for the United States of Europe
SPDSozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands
TEATage Erlander arkiv
UCDUnión del Centro Democrático
UDCUnió Democràtica de Catalunya
UDFUnion pour la Démocratie française
UDRUnion pour la Défense de la République ← 16 | 17 →
UdSUnione dei socialisti
UDSRUnion démocratique et socialiste de la Résistance
UKUnited Kingdom
UMUnion Movement
UNUnited Nations
UPUnità Popolare
USUnited States
USSRUnion of Soviet Socialist Republics
VARAVerenigde Arbeiders Radio Amateurs
VBVlaams Blok
WEUWestern European Union
WWIWorld War I ← 17 | 18 →


← 18 | 19 →


Lucia BONFRESCHI, Giovanni ORSINA, and Antonio VARSORI

This book brings together three different traditions of historical study and is centred respectively on national politics, European integration, and political parties.

Since the 1980s – in the Italian and French cases1 – there has been much debate among “national” political historians concerning transnational/comparative history/histoire croisée. During the last decade this discussion has become quite lively in Anglo Saxon and German scholarship too.2

This debate intersects with that of a modified notion of politics: from politics to “the political”.3 This second notion is not only much wider, bringing within its scope phenomena that a more traditional idea of politics would exclude, but it also has a much stronger social and cultural dimension (linguistic turn, debate in the public sphere, Begriffsgeschichte, emphasis on communication,4 etc.). It is much more loosely connected with national political and institutional environments, and therefore is a better fit when it comes to discussing transnational/comparative history/histoire croisée.

This debate also tackles a more theoretical political history. Both the widening of the scope from politics to “the political” and the switch from national to transnational/comparative history/histoire croisée are pushing ← 19 | 20 → scholars to studying historical objects that are not already “out there”, but must – to a certain extent – be theoretically built up.

Both the enlargement of the scope of political history and its attempt to transcend national boundaries must be considered good news. To a certain extent, this is a “necessary” turn, given the diminishing relevance of nation states and the increasing academic pressure for greater scholarly internationalization.

There are obvious pitfalls, though: the switch from politics to “the political” carries the risk of dissolving the notion of political and institutional power into that of a dispersed and ubiquitous foucauldian power; and the emphasis on non-national, theoretically-driven research could lead to the weakening of the empirical and idiographic approach that is characteristic of historical studies. This, in its turn, could increase risks of anachronism and teleology. Above all, the methodological debate on non-national, theory-driven historical research has been matched by a comparatively scarce (even if growing) amount of actual non-national, theory-driven research. We must see to what extent this new paradigm evolves into “hard” or “soft” non-national, theory-driven research – “soft” being traditional national empirical studies, based however on a sharp awareness of non-national and theoretical backgrounds (“asymmetrical comparisons”).

The second tradition of historical study the book takes into account is the debate on European integration. For decades European integration history has gone beyond diplomatic history and opened itself up to economic, social and cultural dimensions. In the last decade, European integration literature has gone from the institutional (traditional “internal” histories of European integration) and the national (“milwardian”) dimensions to the transnational: the impact of transnational networks, party cooperation, intellectual and cultural borrowings, etc.5

Furthermore, historians have developed the dialogue with the social sciences: this historiography uses theories on European integration (e.g. Paul Pierson’s ideas on path dependency6), but also social scientific theories more generally (e.g. network theories).7 ← 20 | 21 →

The “transnationalization” of both national political histories and European integration history is obviously heading towards a convergence of the two traditions, even to the extent of blurring the disciplinary boundary separating them. With the aforementioned caveats we consider this a positive development. This book is borne out of these developments, and aims at pushing them further.

The area of the national/European interaction on which this book focuses is that of political parties.

The study of political parties, in itself, has not been an area of great methodological innovation over the last couple of decades – in Italy, Pombeni’s in the 1980s was the last systematic attempt to centre a “new” political history on political parties.8 Parties as an object of historical study seem quite out of fashion today: both because they have often been studied in old-fashioned and value-laden, if not ideological, ways and because organised parties, with clearly defined ideologies, playing a pivotal role in their political systems, now seem a thing of the past – the protagonists of an era of European political history that is now definitively over.

On the other hand, the study of political parties has been part and parcel of the two waves of methodological innovation that we have described before: the methodology of the “new” history of the political can also be applied to political parties and transnational histories of European integration have devoted much attention to transnational party cooperation as well as to international and European parties.9

Much more can be done from the perspective of a renewed party history.

Political parties have occupied and still occupy a unique position at the crossroads between societal interests, organisation and mobilisation; public institutions; leadership and individual agency; discursive practices; at least in some cases, the international arena. They can provide a good starting point (but certainly not the only one) for re-thinking a political history capable both of looking at the past with present-oriented interests ← 21 | 22 → and categories, and of being theoretically sophisticated and able to transcend national boundaries.

This obviously requires abandoning some teleological, methodological and axiological premises that seemed valid in the past and that have long been criticised:

  1. Teleological assumptions regarding the more “mature” or “modern” party format or ideology which led to judging concrete historical cases with the yardstick of that format or ideology;
  2. Methodological assumptions tending to crystallise the boundaries of parties and to give them greater institutional solidity than is the case – oblivious to the fact that parties are interesting exactly insofar as they sit at the meeting point of many roads and can move in many directions;
  3. Axiological assumptions regarding the intrinsic “goodness” of party organisation and party strife, and leading to an a priori disregard (that is, misunderstanding or non-understanding) for either more “liquid” forms of politics (e.g. personal politics), or attempts to transcend party strife, or anti-party, anti-politics and “populist” movements.

As in other cases, not all of them fortunate, the twenty-first century seems to be looking to the nineteenth: the methods and assumptions necessary to study the formation of political parties can be more “modern” than the methods and assumptions used to analyse parties in their heyday. We can go back to 1912 and Benedetto Croce: political parties are like literary genres, they are very useful for giving an order to political reality and making it easier to understand, because the ‘institutions or habits in which life is mechanised’ are ‘necessary to life, because the mechanism is necessary, and, preserving the work that has been done, helps one avoid future pains’ – but they should not be mistaken for the substance of politics.10

Party history can interact in a fruitful way with the most relevant nouvelle vague of political history and history tout-court: the “discursive turn” (or call it what you will). Parties obviously have a lot to do with cultures, ideologies, mentalities, concepts, memories, narrations, etc. Studying discourses from the point of view of parties can also help avoid some of the gravest dangers of some à-la-page cultural history: studying discourses either as self-referential entities, or referring them to an overly vague notion of power. Within the framework of party history, discourses tie in with the actual struggle for political power and its ← 22 | 23 → institutional context. This does not mean reverting to treating discourses as instrumental or irrelevant, but working on the balance between the real impact of ideologies and mentalities, the need to explain and justify political behaviour, and pragmatic politics and the defence of interests. In particular, tying the European discourse to political parties can be helpful in distinguishing a “softer” European public space – where intellectual networks are created, values are shaped, practices are shared – from a “stronger” one where the struggle over power distribution in formal public institutions takes place.

Finally, party history can interact in a fruitful way with the switch from national to non-national approaches. Party history can transcend national boundaries in different ways, which are all practised in this book.

The first is the study of party foreign and European politics – studying which party historians will be able to concentrate on how parties have perceived themselves as belonging not only to the national political game, but also to a wider transnational, and above all European, one. Historians of international relations and European integration can also develop their growing interest in the political background of foreign and European policy-making.

This approach is mostly developed in the first two parts of the book, where parties are classified along ideological cleavages. Part I includes the left-wing parties and political families, while Part II is devoted to centre and right-wing ones. Most of the Part I and II papers concern national cases and aim to analyse evolution, turning points, and domestic constraints on the medium period. The purpose of this subdivision and distribution of papers is to help the readers and stimulate them to compare discourses, ideas, and policies crossing national but also ideological lines (comparison between parties of the same country).

The socialist/social-democrat/labour parties are taken into account by many scholars. G. Bernardini and G. D’Ottavio investigate the shifts in SPD’s attitude towards European integration from the birth of the Federal Republic of Germany until 1979. S. Lamberti and M. E. Cavallaro focus respectively on the Dutch Labour Party, which underwent deep domestic changes during the 1970s, and on the Spanish Socialist Party, whose European choice were related both to internal factors – the evolution of the Spanish political system – and to external ones: the changing international scenario.

In the same section, V. Lomellini investigates the deep changes in domestic and international policy that the Italian Communist Party underwent under the Secretariat of Enrico Berlinguer. The Italian case is also explored by R. Colozza, studying the cultural and political heritage ← 23 | 24 → in European integration of former members of Partito d’Azione within the major Italian parties.

The complex interplay between domestic choices and European policies, but also between leaders’ personal aims and strategies and political cultures are the core of three papers on centre and right-wing parties. These are the arguments for L. Bonfreschi and M. Marchi’s papers, investigating the strategies and choices respectively of the French Gaullist Party and of the French centrists from the mid-1970s until the Maastricht Treaty. G. Bentivoglio’s paper deals with the attitude of the British Conservative Party toward European integration in the pivotal moment of the first Community enlargement.

In parts I and II a few papers develop an explicit comparison between parties belonging to the same ideological family. This is a particularly fruitful way to assess the relationship between ideologies, politics and political institutions. Ch. Vodovar, A. Brogi and S. Paoli’s contributions provide crucial comparison between Italian and French socialism, Western European Communist parties and extreme right parties and movements respectively.

The second way party history can transcend national boundaries is the study of international and European party cooperation. This cooperation has grown in importance over time, has been an important instrument of legitimation for national parties, has been a relevant instrument of European integration, and can also provide a fruitful historical perspective in the study of ideologies. One important example is the study of Christian Democratic and Conservative parties elaborated by B. Kosowska-Gąstoł.

Inter-party cooperation and the foundation of international organisations are interesting grounds for studying them from a transnational perspective too. This is the case with the liberal international organisations, explored by G. Orsina and G. Thiemeyer’s papers. The first considers them as an interesting and reliable guide to post-1945 European liberal ideology, while the second studies the driving forces of liberal transnationalism.

A transnational approach to the Socialist family has been developed by K. Steinnes’ contribution, combining the study of European policies and ideas with national Socialist parties and the Socialist International. L. Grazi’s paper is complementary to Steinnes’ as it deals with the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, investigating how supranational cooperation is raised among European Socialist parties.

The third part of the book is devoted to papers analysing parties and political families not along ideological cleavages, even if all these contributions can be fruitfully combined with other sections’ papers. This is especially the case for S. Guerrieri’s analysis of the formation of political groups at the Common Assembly of the ECSC, during its first ← 24 | 25 → years (1952-1958). Guerrieri’s thesis is that this was privileged ground for experimenting with a supranational representation.

R. de Bruin and M. Piermattei explore comprehensively how Dutch and Irish national parties dealt with European integration. Both their papers compare the stances and policies of political parties within national arenas.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2015 (September)
Celtic tiger, euroright french centrists PCI azionisti de gaulle
Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 422 pp., 2 graphs, 1 table

Biographical notes

Lucia Bonfreschi (Volume editor) Giovanni Orsina (Volume editor) Antonio Varsori (Volume editor)

Lucia Bonfreschi, PhD, is assistant professor in political history at IMT-Lucca and adjunct professor at Luiss-Guido Carli University, Rome. Giovanni Orsina, PhD, is professor of contemporary history, director of the Master in European Studies and deputy director of the School of Government at Luiss-Guido Carli University, Rome. Antonio Varsori is full professor of history of international relations at the Department of Politics, Law and International Studies of the University of Padua. He is the chairman of the liaison committee of historians of Contemporay Europe at the European Commission and the editor of the journal Ventunesimo Secolo.


Title: European Parties and the European Integration Process, 1945–1992
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422 pages