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Social Democrat


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A member of a political party that supports social democracy. Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel in Germany first used the term in founding the German Social Democratic Labour Party (1869). In 1875 it was fused with the German Workers' Association, founded (1863) by Ferdinand Lasalle, to form the Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Germany. Other parties followed, for example in Denmark (1878), Britain (1883; Henry Hyndman's Social Democratic Federation), Norway (1887), Austria (1889), the USA (1897), and Russia (1898), where a split came in 1903 into Bolshevik and Menshevik factions. In other countries, for example France, Italy, and Spain, the term Socialist Party was more common. The German SDP was the largest party in the Weimar Republic, governing the country until 1933, when it was banned. It was reformed in West Germany after World War II, with a new constitution (1959), ending all Marxist connections. It entered a coalition with the Christian Democrats in 1966, and headed a coalition with the Free Democrats between 1969 and 1982. In East Germany a revived SDP campaigned for office in 1990, following the collapse of the communist regime. In Sweden the SDP, socialist and constitutional in outlook, has been the dominant party since the 1930s, although it was out of office from 1976–1982 and from 1991–1994. In Britain four prominent members of the Labour Party resigned in 1981 to form a short-lived, moderate Social Democratic Party (see Liberal Democrats).

Subjects: World History.


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