Political Clientelism in the Latter Stages of Liberalism: Mediterranean Europe

By Margarita Barral Martinez.

Published by The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies

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In recent years, historiography has shown an increased interest in comparative analysis of socio-political states and evolutions—an excellent perspective from which to analyze modern history.
The various manifestations of political clientelism appearing in Mediterranean Europe during the last quarter of the nineteenth century—‘caciquismo’ in Spain, ‘opportunism’ in France, and ‘trasformismo’ in Italy—set the stage for political pragmatism, independent of ideological milieu, and also served as a bridge between the demise of liberalism and the emergence of democracies. These semi-official power relationships also represented attempts on the part of the elite and prominent individuals to bolster their position vis à vis the new movements and ideologies that brought about the society of the masses.
In this article, we are attempting to reflect how the political clientelism that emerged in Mediterranean Europe during the transition from nineteenth to twentieth century 1) provided the stability required to initiate reforms in a socio-political milieu that was still taking shape and 2) was a system that brought to light the contradictions between the legal context, founded on liberal principles, and how these principles were being applied by some of the elite who were striving to preserve a political and social order that was favorable to them.

Keywords: Mediterranean Europe, Liberalism, Political clientelism, Opportunisme, Trasformismo, Caciquismo

The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies, Volume 10, Issue 1, 2012, pp.63-77. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 558.377KB).

Prof. Dra. Margarita Barral Martinez

University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

European doctor in History honoured with an outstanding performance award (2005). She completed pre-and post-doctoral research stays at the Università degli Studi di Bologna, Italy and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales-CNRS, Paris. She complemented her education with a Master’s Degree in European Union Studies at the Universidade da Coruña (2004–2005) and currently works as professor/researcher at the Department of Contemporary and American History of the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela. She is the principal investigator in two projects: ‘Spanish nationalisation in Galicia from the Disaster of ’98 to the Second Republic’, Ministry of Science and Innovation (2011) and ‘Stereotypes and Spanish nation-building in Galicia in the transition from the 19th to the 20th century’, Department of Education, Government of Galicia (2012). She also coordinates the ‘Biographic Dictionary of Spanish Members of Parliament’ (General Courts of Spain) for the Galician university system.