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Kim Kees van Kersbergen, "The Christian Democratic Phoenix and Modern Unsecular Politics," Party Politics, 14 (May, 2008), 259-279.

First paragraph:
Christian democracy has been an under-researched political phenomenon. Virtually all accounts of the phenomenon start off with a complaint about this deficiency and point to the disproportional academic effort that has been put into socialism and social democracy. Interestingly, when in the mid-1990s more attention was paid to Christian democracy, this was often taken as a peculiar outburst of idiosyncratic academic energy that would soon become relevant for historians only. So, political science quickly turned to social democracy as the leading political actor in Europe once more (and later to the extreme and populist right), convinced that primarily because of secularization Christian democracy's obituary could soon be written (see Kaiser, 2004; Kselman and Buttigieg, 2003; Van Hecke and Gerard, 2004).

Figures and Tables:
None.

Last paragraph:
Different as the approaches to some extent may be, they all seem to agree that - to the extent that Christian democracy has unique features at all - its distinctiveness concerns the plural interest mobilization and accommodation that occurs within the parties. This has accorded Christian democratic parties a conspicuous adaptive disposition that is functionally related to the development of ideology, policies and strategies. A focused debate between the proponents of the contrasting approaches on this issue is certainly worthwhile pursuing. But given the still underdeveloped state of comparative theory-building in this respect, small steps are already more than welcome. Because of the characteristic feature of Christian democracy, in this article I have tried to get a historical and empirical 'feel' of the mechanics of precisely this differentia specifica of functional adaptation as a first small step towards a more general and parsimonious theory of Christian democracy as a phenomenon of modern unsecular politics.

Last updated July 2008