Thorbecke Revisited: The Role of Doctrinaire Liberalism in Dutch PoliticsIn the political history of the nineteenth century Thorbecke played a crucial role. As the architect of the 1848 liberal constitutional reform he led three cabinets. In many ways he dominated the political discourse during the period between 1840 and 1872. In recent historiography Thorbecke’s liberalism has been chiefly interpreted within the framework of political styles. Thorbecke’s constitutional style could be characterised by a formal, governmental approach to politics, distanced from the citizen and society. In this respect Thorbecke’s liberalism is indebted to the French Doctrinaires as represented by Guizot. In this article it is argued that what is known as doctrinaire liberalism in the Dutch context comprised a correction of the oligarchical political culture of the Restoration and was connected to social and economic questions that had played a role since the time of the Patriots Party. A formal approach to politics had a concrete social significance.Thus the demarcation of public and private legal systems was a means of generating social reform. More generally, strict liberalism can be seen as a way of carrying out politics in which the point was to bring political rationality into the historical context
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