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Imperial and Free Conservative Party, Founding Manifesto (October 27, 1867)

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Also adhering to the true conservative spirit, we frankly appreciate this monarchy joining the circle of constitutional states. Absolutism has a glorious history in Prussia. Nowhere else in the entire world has this system of governance left a more indelible monument than in this state: the accomplishment of absolute monarchical power. But the time of absolutism is past. Today, it would destroy what it once brought into existence with creative force. Our people, like all civilized nations of this age, do not just need a rightful share in the determination of their destiny for their own satisfaction; the monarchy itself requires the cooperation of the people in order to fulfill its lofty mission. Only the crown of a free nation is due our monarch; his throne rests most securely on the will of free men.

We honor the state constitution as a source of strength for the monarchy, as an unfolding of popular customs and traditions, as the guarantor of the freedom of the church, of the equality of confessions, of the separation of political rights from religious faith. We reject “pseudo-constitutionalism” as a disparagement and a moral corruption of public life. We also fight the antiquated doctrine of separation of powers, which continues to find its adherents; we counter that notion confidently with the principle of the communal exercise of unified state authority.

The party we belong to is committed to the fundamental state law. In accordance with such a Free Conservative stance, we demand the consolidation of the constitution. This consolidation does not reach its apotheosis insofar as the relationship between government and parliament is arranged in a constitutional and dignified way, insofar as the rule of the law is strengthened at the top of the central state authority, or insofar as the arbitrariness of civil servants is eliminated; it does so only once the basic foundation of national life is imbued with the spirit of liberty. No electoral law can guarantee the existence of true liberty. From our perspective, the nature and the benefits of that liberty are not founded on allowing as many people as possible to be called upon to join in governing the state. Instead, they derive from the fact that everywhere a sphere of independent will and action, based on law and justice, makes itself felt vis-à-vis a strong government. We seek and find the conclusion of liberal development in the self-administration of all the people’s organizations and social categories.

Thus, we are striving to secure independence for our people: in the house and home, in industry and the trades, among workers and employers, in the arts and sciences, in the city and countryside, in the district and province. Just as our federal states explicitly preserve their peculiarities in the framework of the North German Confederation, so too would we like to see all living parts within that state move in free self-determination – irrespective of the unity and supreme supervision of the state. The objective of our efforts requires a thorough reform of the central principles of administration.

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