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European Parties and the European Integration Process, 1945–1992


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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Transnational Cooperation of Liberal Parties in Europe, 1945-1976



Professor, University of Düsseldorf

Whereas historical research has been focusing for years on the transnational cooperation of the Christian Democrat and Socialist parties, the Liberal parties still seem to be somewhat in the shade of researchers’ interests.1 Existing publications have a rather descriptive focus on internal party structure and do not have an analytical perspective. This applies also to the history of transnational Liberalism. This article, therefore, will focus on the history of the cooperation and integration of the Liberal parties from World War II up to the 1970s. This is the time when the different types of transnational Liberal party organisations developed. One of the most important and influential of these was the Liberal International, which without any doubt had a global claim but still remained a European organisation. A second was the Mouvement Libéral Pour l’Europe Unie (MLEU), founded in 1950 within the framework of the six Schuman Plan countries. And finally there was the party federation of European Liberal Democrats (ELD) founded in 1976 in preparation for the first direct elections of the European Parliament in 1979.

The article will focus mainly on the following questions: Why did Liberal party transnationalism emerge in the period between 1947 and 1976? What were the driving forces of transnationalism, who were the actors and what were their motives? Was the transnational ← 297 | 298 → cooperation of Liberal parties a reaction to European integration in the political sphere? Or was...

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