German People's Party (1868)

German People's Party
Deutsche Volkspartei
Founded 1868
Dissolved 1910
Preceded by Democratic People's Party, German Progress Party
Merged into Progressive People's Party
Newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung (unofficial)
Ideology Liberal democracy
Social liberalism
Social progressivism
Political position Centre-left[1][2]

The German People's Party (German: Deutsche Volkspartei, DtVP) was a German liberal party created in 1868 by the wing of the German Progress Party which during the conflict about whether the Unification of Germany should be led by the Kingdom of Prussia or Austria-Hungary supported Austria.

The party was most popular in Southern Germany. Initially the South German democrats supported the Greater German solution of the German question. After the establishment of the German Empire in 1871 under Prussia, the solution which excluded Austria, it advocated federalist structures, and defended the South German states' rights against increasing strengthening of the central government in Berlin. Insistently, the party demanded democratic reforms, in particular strengthening of the position of the parliament, which had no say in the formation of the government and no influence on government policies as the government was appointed and dismissed by the emperor alone.

In contrast to the National Liberal Party, it stood in staunch opposition against the policy of Otto von Bismarck from the establishment of the German Empire. The party put the classical liberal notion of liberty above the prospect of a German unification led "from above". The German People's Party was highly critical of the Prusso-German monarchy and advocated the separation of church and state. Still, it rejected Bismarck's "Kulturkampf" against the Catholic Church as well as the Anti-Socialist Laws.

The German People's Party was the most leftist[3] among non-Marxist parties and closest to the social democracy. It was the sole liberal party to cooperate with the Socialists in the Reichstag.

Most of the party's members were craftsmen, small traders, farmers, and clerks. However, the leadership consisted of upper-class intellectuals. Leopold Sonnemann (proprietor of the Bavarian newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung) and the lawyer Friedrich von Payer served as Chairmen.

In 1910 the party merged with the Freeminded People's Party and the Freeminded Union to form the Progressive People's Party.

A notable member of both the German People's Party, the Progressive People's Party, and its successor the German Democratic Party was Ludwig Quidde, the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1927.

The most influential among the People's Party's state organisations was the Democratic People's Party in Württemberg. After the DtVP was disbanded, it continued as the regional branch of the Progressive People's Party, the German Democratic Party, and is still part of the full name of the liberal FDP in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

In contrast to the South German People's Party of 1868-1910, the German People's Party in the Weimar Republic (1919–33) was a monarchist successor to the imperial National Liberal Party.

See also


  1. Winkler, Jürgen R. (1995). Sozialstruktur, politische Traditionen und Liberalismus. Eine empirische Längsschnittstudie zur Wahlentwicklung in Deutschland, 1871–1933. Springer. p. 66.
  2. Stargardt, Nicholas (1994). The German Idea of Militarism: Radical and Socialist Critics 1866-1914. Cambridge University Press. p. 31.
  3. Sperber, Jonathan (1997). The Kaiser's Voters: Electors and Elections in Imperial Germany. Cambridge University Press. p. 164.

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