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See detailThe ideational origins of European democratization: the “French connection” and the case of Belgian liberals
Farhat, Nadim UL; Poirier, Philippe UL

in French Politics (2019), 17(2019), 1-28

Why, in some cases, did old elites promote democratization without the partisan capacity to embrace mass politics and without guarantees about their future participation in the new regime? This article ... [more ▼]

Why, in some cases, did old elites promote democratization without the partisan capacity to embrace mass politics and without guarantees about their future participation in the new regime? This article investigates the case of the Liberals in Belgium who were eager, in the years between 1893–1921, to launch democratization while founding their actions and choices on a selfless approach to politics. In seeking to identify the source of this democratic preference, one factor, largely ignored in the studies on the first wave of democratization, emerges: the diffusion of democratic ideas and practices from France. Constructing and analyzing two original data sets including, respectively, the personal characteristics of Belgian Liberal MPs who were active during the democratic transition period and the speeches of those who addressed topics related to France, this article shows that the democratic ideas as well as the choices expressed by Liberal MPs in the parliament are significantly related to their prior socialization into French democratic norms. This result has broad implications for understanding ideational transfer and diffusion in the first wave of European democratization, opening new avenues for future research. [less ▲]

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