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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: November 2010

3 - The Postwar CDU: Origins of a Corporatist Catch-All Party


Angelo Panebianco argues that “a party's organizational characteristics depend more upon its history, i.e. on how the organization originated and how it consolidated, than upon any other factor” (Panebianco 1988: 50). To the extent that a party's beginnings continue to shape its organizational form over time, examination of a party's origins can inform our understanding of internal party dynamics. An awareness of the origins of the CDU in particular can also shed light on one pattern of genesis for corporatist catch-all parties in general.

What are the origins of a corporatist catch-all party? How does a party come to take on this kind of structure? This chapter begins with the general conditions under which a corporatist catch-all party is likely to emerge. Then it discusses the origins of the CDU and how the party set up internal representation for important societal groups at its founding. Finally, it considers the early relationship between women and the CDU.

The most important factor contributing to the emergence of a corporatist catch-all party is what Panebianco terms “territorial diffusion” (Panebianco 1988: 50–1). He distinguishes between organizations developed through territorial diffusion versus those developed through territorial penetration. Territorial penetration occurs when the center controls the organization's development and extends this control to the periphery. Territorial diffusion, on the other hand, refers to cases in which the organization develops from the spontaneous formation of associations that then merge into a larger organization.

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