Christian democracy

Christian democracy is a form of conservatism [1] and a political ideology that emerged in nineteenth-century Europe under the influence of Catholic social teaching, [1] [2] as well as Neo-Calvinism. [nb 1] Christian democratic political ideology advocates for a commitment to social market principles and qualified interventionism. It was conceived as a combination of modern democratic ideas and traditional Christian values, incorporating the social teachings espoused by the Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, and Pentecostal traditions in various parts of the world. [5] [6] After World War II, the Protestant and Catholic movements of the Social Gospel and Neo-Thomism, respectively, played a role in shaping Christian democracy. [4] Christian democracy continues to be influential in Europe and Latin America, although it is also present in other parts of the world. [7] In some countries, Christian Democratic parties filled in a center-right gap caused by conservative parties discredited by Nazi collaboration.[ citation needed]

In practice, Christian democracy is often considered centre-right on cultural, social, and moral issues (and is thus a supporter of social conservatism), and it is considered centre-left "with respect to economic and labor issues, civil rights, and foreign policy" as well as the environment. [8] [9] Specifically, with regard to its fiscal stance, Christian democracy advocates a social market economy. [8] In Europe, where Christian democrats defined their views as an alternative to the more leftist ideology of social democracy, Christian democratic parties are moderately conservative and centre-right overall, whereas in the very different cultural and political environment of North and South America they tend to lean to the left in economic issues and to the right in social issues. [10]

Worldwide, many Christian democratic parties are members of the Centrist Democrat International. Examples of Christian democratic parties include the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), Christian Democratic Union - Czechoslovak People's Party (KDU-ČSL), Ireland's Fine Gael, Chile's Christian Democratic Party, Belgium's Christian Democratic and Flemish and Humanist Democratic Centre, Switzerland's Christian Democratic People's Party, the Netherlands' Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Britain's Christian Democratic Party and Christian Peoples Alliance, Italy's Union of the Centre (UdC) and Popular Alternative, People's Party (Spain), and the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB). [11] Today, many European Christian democratic parties are affiliated with the European People's Party (or the more Right-wing and soft Eurosceptic European Christian Political Movement, part of the European Conservatives and Reformists group) and many American Christian democractic parties are affiliated with the Christian Democrat Organization of America.

Political viewpoints

As with any political ideology, Christian democracy has had different manifestations over time and between countries; there are several types of ideology that are called Christian democracy.

As a generalization, it can be said that Christian democratic parties in Europe tend to be moderately conservative, and in several cases form the main conservative party in their respective countries (e.g. in Germany, Spain and Belgium, Switzerland: Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland (CVP), Christian Social Party (CSP), Evangelical People's Party of Switzerland (EVP). Federal Democratic Union of Switzerland (EDU). In Latin America, by contrast, Christian democratic parties tend to be left-leaning and to some degree influenced by liberation theology. [12] These generalizations, however, must be nuanced by the consideration that Christian democracy does not fit precisely into the usual categories of political thought, but rather includes elements common to several other political ideologies, including conservatism, liberalism, and social democracy:

In common with conservatism:

  • traditional moral values (on marriage, abortion, prohibition of drugs etc.), [13] opposition to secularization, opposition to state atheism, a view of the evolutionary (as opposed to revolutionary) development of society, an emphasis on law and order, and a rejection of communism. [14] [6]

In contrast to conservatism:

  • open to change (for example, in the structure of society) and not necessarily supportive of the social status quo. [15]

In common with liberalism:

  • an emphasis on human rights and individual initiative.

In contrast to liberalism:

  • a rejection of secularism, and an emphasis on the fact that the individual is part of a community and has duties towards it.

In common with social democracy:

  • an emphasis on the community, social justice and solidarity, support for a welfare state, labor unions and support for regulation of market forces. [16]

In contrast to social democracy:

  • most European Christian Democrats reject the concept of class struggle (although less so in some Latin American countries, which have been influenced by liberation theology), opposing both excessive State institutions and unregulated capitalism in favor of robust non-governmental, non-profit, intermediary institutions to deliver social services and social insurance.

Geoffrey K. Roberts and Patricia Hogwood have noted that "Christian democracy has incorporated many of the views held by liberals, conservatives and socialists within a wider framework of moral and Christian principles." [17]

Christian Democrats hold that the various sectors of society (such as education, family, economy and state) have autonomy and responsibility over their own sphere, a concept known as sphere sovereignty. [18] One sphere ought not to dictate the obligations of another social entity; for example, the sphere of the state is not permitted to interfere with the raising of children, a role that belongs to sphere of the family. [18] Within the sphere of government, Christian Democrats maintain that civil issues should first be addressed at the lowest level of government before being examined at a higher level, a doctrine known as subsidiarity. [8] These concepts of sphere sovereignty and subsidiarity are considered to be cornerstones of Christian Democracy political ideology. [19]

Christian democrats are usually socially conservative, and, as such, generally have a relatively sceptical stance towards abortion and same-sex marriage, though some Christian democratic parties have accepted the limited legalization of both. Christian Democrats have also supported the prohibition of drugs. [20] [21] Christian democratic parties are often likely to assert the Christian heritage of their country, and to affirm explicitly Christian ethics, rather than adopting a more liberal or secular stance; [22] at the same time, Christian Democratic parties enshrine confessional liberty. [23] Christian Democracy fosters an " ecumenical unity achieved on the religious level against the atheism of the government in the Communist countries." [14]

On economic issues, Christian democrats normally do not completely oppose capitalism as an economic system, unlike their repudiation of atheistic communism and similar ideologies, [24] though they do see the economy as being at the service of humanity. The duty of the state towards society is of real importance for Christian democrats, though some would see this duty as being mostly to create the conditions for civil society to flourish, while others would see it as a more direct duty of the state towards citizens. In recent decades, some right-leaning Christian democratic parties in Europe have adopted policies consistent with an economically liberal point of view but still support a regulated economy with a welfare state, while by contrast other Christian democrats at times seem to hold views similar to Christian socialism, or the economic system of distributism. The promotion of the Christian Democratic concepts of sphere sovereignty and subsidiarity led to the creation of corporatist welfare states throughout the world that continue to exist to this day. [25] In keeping with the Christian Democratic concepts of the cultural mandate and the preferential option for the poor, Christian justice is viewed as demanding that the welfare of all people, especially the poor and vulnerable, must be protected because every human being has dignity, being made in the image of God. [8] [26] In many countries, Christian Democrats organized labor unions that competed with Communist and social democratic unions, in contrast to conservativism's stance against worker organizations. Standing in solidarity with these labor unions, Christian Democrats have lobbied for Sunday blue laws that guarantee workers, as well as civil servants, a day of rest in line with historic Christian Sabbath principles. [27]

As advocates of environmentalism, Christian democrats support the principle of stewardship, which upholds the idea that humans should safeguard the planet for future generations of life. [8]

Other Languages
Bahasa Indonesia: Demokrasi Kristen
Nederlands: Christendemocratie
português: Democracia cristã
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Hrišćanska demokratija