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The Appeal of the Conservative Party in One Federal State (1876-1877)

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[According to the Progressives, Bebel is] actually a man of character whose honor is spotless; one really has to take a close look, they suggest, whether Bebel's election would be such a great calamity that the members of the Progressive Party ought to feel obliged to vote for Mayhoff against their own convictions. [The Progressive Party in Saxony has] only particularist tendencies; therefore it considers voting for the non-Saxon Mayhoff unpatriotic (i.e., in this case, un-Saxon).

By contrast, among the citizenry of Dresden a much healthier sentiment prevails, and in light of the great efforts and sacrifices of the German Imperial Party and the National Liberals –some members have donated very considerable sums for party activities – the hope is not at all unfounded that Professor Mayhoff may be assisted to win the election.

In the run-off election in Dresden, Bebel was elected. The envoy writes that many Conservatives and Progressives from the upper classes who supported Käuffer on the first ballot abstained from voting in order not to vote for the hated National Liberal, even though the leader of the Conservative Party recognized the necessity of opposing Bebel. Saxony's government leader, Baron Richard von Friesen, appears to have taken Bebel's victory “very calmly.”:

January 27. [ . . . ] [Baron von Friesen] is of the opinion that if the National Liberals had nominated [ . . . ] a candidate other than the unknown Mecklenburger Mayhoff – i.e., some Saxon – he would have beaten Bebel. Incidentally, I also consider plausible the view that, had the run-off election taken place between Käuffer and Bebel, the former would have been elected. As it stands, however, the small artisans and the bourgeoisie, without sympathizing in the slightest with Social Democratic ideas, preferred to vote for Bebel rather than cast their ballot for a non-Saxon National Liberal.

In my humble opinion, the danger of the election result in Dresden does not lie in the one seat by which the Socialist Party has been strengthened in the Reichstag, but in the fact that a victory in the capital of this state, which is already subverted to such a great extent by socialism, will perhaps endow the growth of the revolutionary party with undreamed-of intensity and breadth.

Source: Prussian envoy Count Eberhard zu Solms-Sonnenwalde, Dresden, to Prussian Foreign Minister Otto von Bismarck, Berlin, reports no. 1, 3, and 5, dated January 11, 17, and 27, 1877, in Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amts [Political Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs], Bonn (now Berlin), I.A.A.m. Sachsen (Königreich) [Kingdom], No. 45, Bd. 4, unfoliated.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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