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European Parties and the European Integration Process, 1945–1992

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Edited By Lucia Bonfreschi, Giovanni Orsina and Antonio Varsori

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.
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SPD and European Integration. From scepticism to pragmatism, from pragmatism to leadership, 1949-1979

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SPD and European Integration

From scepticism to pragmatism, from pragmatism to leadership, 1949-1979*

Giovanni BERNARDINI and Gabriele D’OTTAVIO

Researchers, Italian-German Historical Institute – FBK, Trento

Introduction

There are at least three reasons why a study of the SPD and European integration from a long-term perspective is of interest. Firstly, the SPD is the longest surviving Socialist party in Western Europe and, historically, one of the most influential. Secondly, seminal works on the SPD and European integration, which were published by political scientists such as William Paterson, Rudolf Hrbek, Juliet Lodge and Jürgen Bellers in the 1970s,1 have been explored by very few serious investigations, and based on primary sources.2 Newly available documents from the party archives of the SPD at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Bonn and from the Historical Archives of the European Union in Florence allow us to revise some of the interpretations suggested by the aforementioned authors and, above all, to sketch out a more detailed picture of the SPD’s role in European integration from 1949 to 1979. Thirdly, and this is perhaps the more important reason from a comparative analytical perspective, the SPD’s ← 29 | 30 → double shift in its attitude towards European integration, from rejection to support in the mid-1950s, and in its political placement, from opposition to government in the late 1960s, respectively, offers a sort of vantage point from which to analyse and maybe rethink both the evolution of European integration from a long-term perspective...

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