Bavarian Patriot Party

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The Bavarian Patriot Party , also known as the Bavarian Patriotic Party , was a Catholic-oriented political party founded in the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1869 . From 1887 it was called the Bavarian Center Party .


The Bavarian Patriot Party emerged on the basis of Catholic-Greater German-conservative currents in the Bavarian Vormärz and after the revolution of 1848 , such as the "Confederate" group in the first state parliament , the Catholic Eos and Görres circles and the numerous conservative constitutional associations.

Against this background and in view of a new school law in Bavaria shaped by liberal ideas, members of the Bavarian House of Representatives came together to form the "Patriotic Fraction" in mid-1869. A parallel development can be observed in Prussia at the same time as the founding of the Center Party : The victory of the Protestant great power Prussia in the German War in 1866 and the subsequent ousting of the Austrian protective power of German Catholics from the simultaneously collapsing German Confederation meant a setback for Catholicism in Germany.

The patriot party positioned itself against a small German empire under Prussian leadership, against the state appropriation of the church and against liberalism as well as nationalism and stood up for Catholic-church interests, a Catholic-conservative image of society and the economy and for the greater German solution to the German question at the same time Preservation of the Bavarian statehood and independence.

The Patriot Party did not yet have a permanent organization at this early stage. In the House of Representatives, they essentially united the common Catholic-conservative sentiment and opposition to the liberal ministry of Prince Clovis zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst , while the publicist Josef Edmund Jörg appeared as their spiritual and political leader . The patriot party was initially a pure honorary party , which instead of a party organization could use a broad base in the numerous Catholic clubs and associations, the Christian farmers' associations and Catholic casinos. At the local level, Catholic clergy , aristocrats or dignitaries took over the coordination, candidates for the state parliament became for the most part well-known functionaries of the Catholic clubs and associations, who often came from either the clergy or the nobility. In the First Chamber of the Bavarian Parliament , too , the patriots had a considerable number of sympathizers.

The patriot party had its social basis above all in the rural rural population, the conservative petty bourgeoisie of the rural towns as well as in the clergy and the Bavarian nobility. A large number of newspapers also contributed to the roots in these layers, including the historical-political papers of Josef Edmund Jörg and the Bavarian Fatherland of Doctor Johann Baptist Sigl .

The patriots found their strongest support in Catholic Old Bavaria and in Lower Franconia . In contrast, the party found it difficult to gain a foothold in the cities and the predominantly Protestant populated areas.

Early history

In the elections to the Customs Parliament in 1868 , the Patriot Party managed to win 30 of 48 Bavarian mandates. This trend continued in the two state elections in 1869: In May the party won 79 seats, in November 80 out of 154 seats and thus both times the absolute majority of seats. This newly created constellation in the Bavarian House of Representatives remained essentially unchanged until 1918, the Patriot Party succeeded in consistently forming the strongest parliamentary group, and it stood in constant sharp contrast to the liberal Progressive Party and the liberal ministries set up by the monarchs.

The founding of the Empire in 1871 clearly revealed the two wings of the Patriot Party. One group around Joseph Edmund Jörg and later Georg Heim was peasant and petty-bourgeois and democratic and patriotic, the other under Reichsrat Count Konrad von Preysing and Ludwig von Arco-Zinneberg was more aristocratic and took a more conservative and friendly attitude towards the empire. Both the question of the declaration of war on France and thus the Bavarian entry into the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 as well as the subsequent question of Bavaria's entry into the newly emerging German Empire split the faction in the state parliament.

The torn patriot party therefore only received 19 of the 48 Bavarian mandates and 38% of the votes in the elections for the first German Reichstag. In the Reichstag, the patriots joined the faction of the Catholic Center. It was not until the Kulturkampf in Bavaria and Prussia in the 1870s that solidarity within the Patriot Party was restored and that it was strengthened again through new electoral successes: in the Reichstag election in 1874 , the party received 59.5% of the votes and thus 32 seats. At the same time, however, it also got into its second major crisis.

Crises and stability

Since it was founded, the monarchically-minded party had to find an answer to how it should behave towards a liberal ministry that was ideologically directed against it, but at the same time not against a conservative (and thus parliamentary majority) by the king due to the monarchical principle. Body was replaced.

While a radical Catholic group within the parliamentary group called for the liberal ministry to be denied the budget or for the state parliament to be paralyzed by collective resignation, a more moderate group around Jörg spoke out in favor of a fight against the ministry within the framework of parliamentary means. This dissent led in 1877 to the split in the parliamentary group into the Patriot Party around Jörg and the more radical Catholic People's Party under the leadership of Aloys Rittler and Johann Baptist Sigl . After lengthy negotiations, both groups then reunited to form the joint faction of the “United Right”, nominally maintaining their independence. In 1881, the newly formed National Conservative Party, the Evangelical Lutheran counterpart to the Patriot Party from Protestant Central Franconia under August Emil Luthardt, was won for the United Rights Group.

In the 1880s, the Freising clergyman Balthasar von Daller and the Erdinger philologist Georg von Orterer formed a new leadership team, which first initiated the affiliation to the center across the Reich as the "Bavarian Center Party" in 1887 and then in 1888/1890 which had previously been strong ousted the aristocratic leadership of the party. With the new “Program of the Bavarian Center Party” from 1887 it was also possible to finally reunite the diverging groups under the umbrella of the new party. The program called for the implementation of Christian principles in all areas of life and also tried to bind all strata of the population to the party: The commitment to allegiance to the Reich stood alongside the postulate of federalism , between the basic monarchical attitude and the demands for extended rights of parliament Looking for a balance and taking into account the farmers as well as the craft and the working class.

The decrease in the solidarity pressure caused by the state culture war, but above all the dissatisfaction of the Bavarian farmers with the behavior of the Bavarian Center Party at the Reich level (including approval of Caprivi's trade agreements, which were unfavorable for Bavarian farmers ), led to the establishment of the Bavarian Farmers' Union in 1893 , which was radically committed portrayed anticlerical, particularistic and hostile to the nobility. The Bauernbund immediately won seven seats in the state elections in 1893, thereby breaking the absolute majority of the Bavarian Center Party. In this phase the rural-particular-democratic wing gained increasing weight in the party and the center "received (again) to a large extent the character of a party of social and democratic demands on a Catholic basis" (D. Albrecht). Against the challenge of the farmers' union, the Bavarian Center Party intensified its agitation in the rural milieu, again emphasized a particular view and obliged its members of the Reichstag to vote in the Reichstag in a way that was friendly to farmers. In addition, one worked together in electoral alliances with the rising social democracy in order to deprive the farmers' union of the voter base.

Change to the ruling party and end

However, this led to another sharp conflict in the parliamentary group between the group around the "Bauerndoktor" Heim and the more bourgeois-conservative group around Orterer and the Passau clergyman Franz Seraph von Pichler , while parliamentary group chairman Daller acted as a moderator between the parts of the parliamentary group. With the support of the clergy, the patriots in the First Bavarian Chamber and parts of the court, the group around Orterer increasingly succeeded in presenting itself as a government-capable alternative to the liberal ministries set up by the court. Heim withdrew temporarily from politics in 1911 and in 1912 Prince Regent Luitpold appointed the leader of the center faction in the Reichstag, Georg von Hertling, as chairman of the Bavarian State Ministry. For the first time since the founding of the Patriot Party in 1869, a representative of the majority faction in the state parliament was entrusted with the government of the state; the Bavarian Center Party had achieved its goal.

After the end of the First World War and the state upheavals in Bavaria as well, leading members of the Bavarian Center Party around Georg Heim and Heinrich Held founded the Bavarian People's Party in Regensburg in November 1918 , which again deliberately set itself apart from the Reich-wide center under the Unitarian influence of Matthias Erzberger .


  • Dieter Albrecht: Patriot Party - Center Party. In: Ders: From the establishment of an empire to the end of the First World War (1871-1918) (§16 parties and associations). In: Alois Schmid (Hrsg.): Handbook of Bavarian History, Vol. 4: Das neue Bayern. From 1800 to the present, part 1: State and politics . Beck, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-406-50451-5 , pp. 336-345.
  • Wilhelm Volkert : The Bavarian Patriot Party and the Center 1871-1898. A contribution to the prehistory of the Bavarian People's Party. In: Klaus Hildebrand , Udo Wengt and Andreas Wirsching (eds.): History and knowledge of time. From Enlightenment to the Present. Festschrift for the 65th birthday of Horst Möller . Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-486-58507-0 , pp. 83-98.
  • Dieter Albrecht (Ed.): The minutes of the parliamentary group of the Bavarian Center Party 1893-1914 . Beck, Munich 1989/93 (5 volumes)
  1. 1893-1899 . 1989, ISBN 3-406-10492-4 .
  2. 1899-1904 . 1989, ISBN 3-406-10493-2 .
  3. 1905-1907 . 1991, ISBN 3-406-10494-0 .
  4. 1907-1911 . 1992, ISBN 3-406-10495-9 .
  5. 1912-1914 . 1993, ISBN 3-406-10683-8 .


  1. ^ Benno Hubensteiner : Bavarian history . 17th edition. Rosenheimer Verlagshaus, Rosenheim 2009, ISBN 978-3-475-53756-1 , p. 433 (EA Munich 1950).