Confessions of an Interest Group

Confessions of an Interest Group: The Catholic Church and Political Parties in Europe

Carolyn M. Warner
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Confessions of an Interest Group
    Book Description:

    Following World War II, the Catholic Church in Europe faced the challenge of establishing political influence with newly emerging democratic governments. The Church became, as Carolyn Warner pointedly argues, an interest group like any other, seeking to attain and solidify its influence by forming alliances with political parties. The author analyzes the Church's differing strategies in Italy, France, and Germany using microeconomic theories of the firm and historical institutionalism. She demonstrates how only a strategic perspective can explain the choice and longevity of the alliances in each case. In so doing, the author challenges earlier work that ignores the costs to interest groups and parties of sustaining or breaking their reciprocal links.

    Confessions of an Interest Groupchallenges the view of the Catholic Church as solely a moral force whose interests are seamlessly represented by the Christian Democratic parties. Blending theory, cultural narrative, and archival research, Warner demonstrates that the French Church's superficial and brief connection with a political party was directly related to its loss of political influence during the War. The Italian Church's power, on the other hand, remained stable through the War, so the Church and the Christian Democrats more easily found multiple grounds for long-term cooperation. The German Church chose yet another path, reluctantly aligning itself with a new Catholic-Protestant party. This book is an important work that expands the growing literature on the economics of religion, interest group behavior, and the politics of the Catholic Church.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2368-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Introduction: The Catholic Church and Democracy
    (pp. 3-16)

    In February 1798, a French general and his troops, aided by the intrigues of Italian republicans and under orders from France’s Revolutionary Directorate, besieged Rome. Pope Pius VI fled the Vatican to Florence, where, 13 months later, he was captured by the French army and taken to the south of France. There, on August 29, 1799, the pope, still a prisoner of the French, died. This unseemly introduction to the legacy of the French Revolution and democratic politics ensured that there would be no love lost between the Catholic hierarchy and democratic governments. The Catholic Church had long enjoyed privileged...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Interest Groups, Political Parties, and Religion
    (pp. 17-39)

    Gramsci notes the similarity between religion, which provides an interpretive map for the world, a system for evaluating the justice of distributive schemes, as well as ethical and behavioral codes to follow, and ideology, which, by most definitions, does the same. Once one agrees that a religion is an ideology, then it is indeed a short step to participating in politics, much of which is about whose worldview, including distributive criteria and behavioral norms, is going to prevail. I join a growing number of writers who argue that the Catholic Church (and any organized religion) is a strategic, calculating, and...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The Constraints and Opportunities of History
    (pp. 40-73)

    At the liberation of Paris in August 1944, the cardinal archbishop of Paris, Emmanuel Suhard, was refused entrance to his own cathedral at the celebratory service. At the liberation of Rome in 1943, Pope Pius XII was feted by tens of thousands at St. Peter’s Square. During the Constituent Assembly sessions in France, the French Church asked only that modest state subsidies to private schools be restored. During the same deliberations in Italy, the Vatican demanded that Catholicism retain its status as the official religion of Italy. In France, the Church did not, as a unit, support the new Christian...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Interests, Identities, and Role Definition
    (pp. 74-96)

    One of the arguments of this book is that the extent and durability of interest group–party linkages vary according to solutions to contracting problems, and to organizational definitions of “self-interest.” This chapter concentrates on the latter issue. Interest groups vary in their nature, priorities, methods, and goals. To understand the choices they make about political parties as suppliers of policy products, we have to look beyond the structure of the political market to the groups’ preferences. We can make some basic assumptions about preferences, based on the fact that the subject in question is an interest group, and on...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Selecting an Ally: The Catholic Church and Christian Democracy in Italy and France
    (pp. 97-115)

    One of the issues facing an interest group, especially in a fledgling democratic system, is whether to ally with one political party, many, or none. Affiliation with parties, however, entails risks and costs for an interest group. The French Church, which needed far more help than the Italian to recover lost ground after the war, linked only superficially and briefly with a political party. The Italian Church, emerging unscathed from the war, needed little help, yet forged strong connections with a party. Why did the French Church not expend resources when it needed to, while the Italian Church invested heavily...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Evaluating the Alliance: Exit or Voice?
    (pp. 116-134)

    Like any marriage of convenience, conflict between an interest group and its chosen party always lurks in the background and occasionally becomes manifest. Relations between the French and Italian Churches and their respective Christian Democratic parties were no different. For example, during the 1948 electoral campaign in Italy, members of the Church hierarchy criticized a number of southern DC candidates, saying that their behavior was “unworthy” of Catholics.¹ In France, only a year after the Church had endorsed the MRP in the 1946 parliamentary election, priests in some regions were urging their followers to vote for rival, conservative candidates in...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Getting Out the Vote: Mobilization Techniques
    (pp. 135-162)

    Any analysis of the relationship between interest groups and political parties needs to look at the types of techniques that are available to enforce member behavior in such organizations, their usefulness in different circumstances, and their appropriateness to the issues or policy concerns of the group. If the group is paying a party for policy services with member votes and logistical activity, how does the group ensure that it can exchange those assets? The primary emphasis of this chapter is on the techniques that the Church developed to persuade or compel lay Catholics to support the Church’s political strategies and...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Christian Democratic Parties and Their Search for Allies
    (pp. 163-184)

    A prefect in southern Italy commented in 1946, “On the occasion of the elections, one could observe in almost all the little villages that, as was expected, family feuds and ambitions that have been perpetuating themselves for decades were masquerading behind the parties in competition.”¹ As one might anticipate in light of the prefect’s comments, local party links to interest groups in southern Italy were overtly instrumental. In general, however, there are four schools of thought on why a political party cooperates and links with interest groups. First, doing so is their function: parties serve as links between citizens and...

  14. CHAPTER 9 Comparative Perspectives: Germany
    (pp. 185-202)

    As christian democratic union activist Paul Bausch found out, in the months immediately following Germany’s unconditional surrender, many in the German Catholic Church had serious misgivings about forming an interconfessional “Christian Democratic” political party:

    I presented to the meeting the view that we had to make a totally new start and that we should be guided by the Word of God. . . . Then I attempted to elucidate the aims and principles of our new party. . . . Afterwards I entered into conversation with the priests. They told me I should not really have spoken about matters that...

  15. CHAPTER 10 The Political Crossroads of Catholicism in Postwar Europe: Contributions to a Theory of Interest Groups
    (pp. 203-222)

    The Catholic Church has been a central political and economic actor in Europe from the very beginning of the nation-state. In the several centuries prior to the democratization of these states, it was seen, not as one political actor among many, but as the principal rival to national governments or monarchs for authority over the people, for power, and for resources. As a religious organization, concerned (allegedly) with salvation, it was often said to have higher and more exacting goals than other political actors. It is a strictly hierarchical organization whose claim to authority came from its being sole interpreter...

  16. References
    (pp. 223-242)
  17. Index
    (pp. 243-249)