2014 | 6 | 1 | 9-37
Article title

Budování lokální a regionální organizace Národní strany v Čechách v 60. a 70. letech 19. století

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Building the Local and Regional Structures of the Czech National Party in Bohemia in the 1860s and 1870s
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The political system in the Habsburg Monarchy in the 1860s and 1870s demonstrated a number of weaknesses and shortcomings, further augmented by the political passivity of a large part of the society. This passivity was a reflection of limited suffrage, as well as the lack of clear-cut and understandable political subject matters (e.g. similar to abolition of serfdom from 1848). The notable parties, however, in the early 1860s attempted to construct at least simple two-level organisational structures. The reason for this, apart from ensuring at least minimal campaigning in towns and districts before the first elections to the Bohemian Diet, was often finding the right candidates for the deputies. Both local and regional society elites had to collaborate on this selection, but the elites themselves had first to be found and persuaded to occasionally co-operate. From the early 1860s, the intermediaries between the party leadership and election districts and their elites were the so called local trustees. They were active especially before the elections and their number was low, probably one or a few in one electoral district. The number increased in the 1870s, partly because of annual (supplementary) elections to the Bohemian Diet or the Imperial Council for the seats of Czech absentees (the passive resistance policy), partly because of serious conflicts between the Old Czech and the Young Czech parties, starting with 1874. Political revival made the leaders of the National Party try to strengthen and organise the primitive party structure. Political societies, which functioned mainly as election societies, i.e. societies active during the elections, seemed to be the best tool for doing so. But the interesting idea was confronted with the usual shortages of the elite parties: relatively small number of voters (and hence addressees of similar attempts), lack of local trustees, their reluctance for long-term, continual, and unpaid involvement in work for the party, unwillingness of deputies to meet their voters regularly, etc. The Old Czech Party’s attempts to expand and make the two-level vertical organisation more effective in the late 1870s thus basically failed as their effect was only temporary and limited to election campaigns. It all changed in the 1880s after granting the suffrage to middle and lower middle classes, but then it was the middle-class oriented National Liberal Party (the Young Czech Party) who primarily benefitted from this process.
  • Střed, redakce, Masarykův ústav a Archiv AV ČR, v.v.i., Gabčíkova 2362/10, 180 00 Praha 8, Czech Republic
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