Political Catholicism was a crucial political force in interwar Europe and, in some ways, a precursor to post-war Christian Democracy and the modern European People's Party. The ambivalent role of Catholic parties between democratic cooperation in the new republican and democratic regimes after the First World War, and the temptation to collaborate with authoritarian right wing dictatorships against the perceived dangers of social turmoil and socialist revolution are fundamental for understanding twentieth century European history and the politics of the European Union.
This book seeks to explain the role of Catholic parties in inter-war Europe in a systematically pan-European comparative perspective. All country chapters address the same questions about the parties' membership and social organization; their economic and social policies of corporatism; and their European and international policies at a time of increasing national and ethnic conflict. The book includes chapters on Catholic parties in East-Central Europe.
This comprehensive all-European and comparative perspective is strengthened by the inclusion of an introductory survey chapter on the roots of political Catholicism in nineteenth century Europe and a comparative chapter that draws together the main results of the country chapters. Two chapters on the much-neglected transnational co-operation of Catholic parties and politicians in inter-war Europe and in exile complement the comparative perspective.