Political Succession in Western Europe

  • Peter Calvert


The history of state formation in Western Europe is a history of succession struggles. The Thirty Years War, the War of the Spanish Succession, the War of the Polish Succession and the War of the Austrian Succession each originated in dynastic rivalries. Orderly hereditary succession became the very hallmark of the successful imperial state. At the end of the nineteenth century only two states in Europe were republics: France and Switzerland. The dynastic tradition has lasted longer in Europe than most other places: even the Pyrenean principality of Andorra remains under the joint suzerainty of the Bishop of Seo de Urgel and His Most Christian Majesty the President of the French Republic. Nor can we be sure that dynastic succession may not have an unexpected renaissance; the Balkan monarchies that vanished with the unsuccessful counter-coup of Constantine XIII (II) are unlikely to return, but the Spanish monarchy has proved much more successful than anyone expected and its entry into the European Community aligns it clearly with the bulk of its fellows in Europe. Europe after the French Revolution has also a great deal to teach us about other forms of succession, and it is therefore particularly appropriate as a place to begin.


Prime Minister Grand Coalition Party System French Revolution Electoral College 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Jack Hayward, The One and Indivisible French Republic (New York: Norton, 1973) p. 6.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    M. J. Sydenham, The First French Republic 1792–1804 (London: Batsford, 1974) pp. 18–19.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    On the Committee of Public Safety see R. R. Palmer, Twelve Who Ruled: The Year of Terror in the French Revolution (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1941).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Martin Lyons, France under the Directory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Gordon Wright, Raymond Poincaré and the French Presidency (New York: Octagon, 1967) pp. 1–17.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    D. W. Brogan, The Development of Modem France 1870–1939 (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1940) p. 198.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Anatole France, Penguin Island, trans. by A W. Evans (London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1927) p. 145.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    William L. Shirer, The Collapse of the Third Republic: An inquiry into the fall of France in 1940 (London: Heinemann and Secker and Warburg, 1970) p. 529.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    D. W. Urwin, Western Europe since 1945: A short political history (London: Longman, 1981) p. 43.Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    Philip M. Williams, Crisis and Compromise: Politics in the Fourth Republic (London: Longman, 1964) pp. 196–201.Google Scholar
  11. 16.
    William G. Andrews, Presidential Government in Gaullist France: A study of executive-legislative relations 1958–1974 (Albany, NY: State University -of New York Press, 1982) p. 4.Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    James H. Meisel, The Fall of the Republic; Military revolt in France (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 1962).Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    See also Philip M. Williams, ‘Gaullist grandeur: myth and reality’, in his Wars, Plots and Scandals in Post-War France (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970) pp. 207–10.Google Scholar
  14. 23.
    Stanley H. Hoffman, ‘Succession and stability in France’, in Arend Lijphart (ed.), Politics in Europe: Comparisons and interpretations (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1969) pp. 150–64.Google Scholar
  15. 24.
    Nora Beloff, The General Says No: Britain’s exclusion from Europe (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963).Google Scholar
  16. 25.
    Patrick Seale and Maureen McConville, French Revolution 1968 (London: Heinemann with Penguin, 1968).Google Scholar
  17. 31.
    Cf. Jean Bothorel, Histoire du septennat giscardien, I: Le Pharaon; 19 mai 1974–22 mars 1978 (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1983).Google Scholar
  18. 33.
    Alex N. Dragnich and Jorgen Rasmussen, Major European Governments (Homewood, Ill.: Dorsey, 6th edn, 1982), pp. 280–1.Google Scholar
  19. 36.
    Gordon L. Weil, The Benelux Nations: The politics of small-country democracies (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970) pp. 98–113.Google Scholar
  20. 37.
    Wilfried Dewachter, ‘The circulation of the elite under macro-social crises. Analysis of the Belgian case’, paper presented to Planning Session on Political Succession, ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops, Freiburg, March 1983.Google Scholar
  21. 38.
    Gerald Newton, The Netherlands: An historical and cultural survey 1795–1977 (London: Ernest Benn, 1978) pp. 210ff.Google Scholar
  22. 39.
    Gordon Smith, Politics in Western Europe: A comparative analysis (London: Heinemann, 1972) pp. 193–4.Google Scholar
  23. 41.
    Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini (London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1982) pp. 52–8Google Scholar
  24. S. J. Woolf (ed.), The Rebirth of Italy 1943–50 (London: Longman, 1972).Google Scholar
  25. 43.
    Mattei Dogan, ‘Le sélection des ministres en Italie: Dix règles non-écrits’, International Political Science Review, 2 (1981) pp. 189–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 44.
    Gianfranco Pasquino, ‘Italian Christian Democracy: a party for all seasons’?’, in Peter Lange and Sidney Tarrow (eds), Italy in Transition: Conflict and consensus (London: Frank Cass, 1980) pp. 88–109.Google Scholar
  27. 45.
    Elizabeth Wiskemann, Italy since 1945 (London: Macmillan, 1971) p. 59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 46.
    Robert Katz, Days of Wrath: The public agony of Aldo Moro (London: Granada, 1980) p. 71.Google Scholar
  29. 48.
    Sidney Tarrow, ‘Historic compromise or bourgeois majority? Eurocommunism in Italy, 1976–9,’ in Howard Machin (ed.), National Communism in Western Europe: A third way for socialism? (London: Methuen, 1983) pp. 124–53.Google Scholar
  30. 50.
    Giuseppe Di Palma, Surviving Without Governing: The Italian parties in parliament (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1977) pp. 219ff.Google Scholar
  31. cf. Giovanni Sartori, Parties and Party Systems: A framework for analysis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976).Google Scholar
  32. 52.
    Hans Daalder, foreword to Paolo Farneti, The Italian Party System (1945–1980) ed. S. E. Finer and Alfio Mastropaolo (London: Frances Pinter, 1985) p. xxiv.Google Scholar
  33. 60.
    William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; A history of Nazi Germany (London: Pan, 1968) pp. 245–50.Google Scholar
  34. 63.
    Konrad Adenauer, Memoirs, 1945–53 trans. Beate Rahm von Oppen (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1966) pp. 31–2; Prittie, Konrad Adenauer pp. 106–9.Google Scholar
  35. 64.
    Douglas A. Chalmers, The Social Democratic Party of Germany; From working-class movement to modern political party (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1964) pp. 16ff.Google Scholar
  36. 65.
    Arnold J. Heidenheimer, Adenauer and the CDU: The rise of the leader and the integration of the party (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1960)Google Scholar
  37. Geoffrey Pridham, Christian Democracy in Western Germany; The CDU/ CSU in government and opposition, 1945–1976 (London: Croom Helm, 1977) pp. 21–55.Google Scholar
  38. 76.
    Jonathan Carr, Helmut Schmidt, Helmsman of Germany (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1985).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Peter Calvert 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Calvert

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations