Like every century, the 19th century was also a turbulent time for politics. It was the time of the citizens and steam engines. But there was a big difference between this epoch and the epochs earlier in history. In the 18th century, many great thinkers had risen. They had criticized the old form of government. This time is also called the enlightenment. Thanks to the lighting, many new ideas for other forms of government had arisen. Most people wanted a democracy. This means that the people rule. She does this by electing representatives of the people who are allowed to rule the country. These representatives of the people will never be given full power. Full power always remains with the people.
Within the democratic government, different political movements arose. We still have these currents today. For example, the VVD is liberal, the SP is socialist and the SPG is confessionalistic. A confessional party wants to rule according to its own religion. This used to be more common, of course, than it is today. The VVD, the SPG and the SP did not exist in the 19th century, of course. There were no political parties at all in the 19th century. Then only currents were formed.
The 18th century philosopher John Locke is seen as the founder of liberalism. He felt that nothing should go beyond the freedom of the individual. This also means that there must be as few rules as possible. These rules hinder the individual in his freedom. But the Socialists actually felt that there should be rules. The father of socialism is the philosopher Karl Marx. He saw factory owners abuse their freedom and exploit the workers. The factory workers worked very long days under bad conditions and received very little money.
But there were other movements that influenced the politics of the 19th century. Nationalism is one of them. This too arose on the occasion of the enlightenment in the 18th century. Because they felt that the people should be given more rights, more and more attention was paid to the people. The people had to have a face and a story. At first, people used to just look at the leaders. They were important. Now the people mattered. There had to be something they could be proud of. They all had the same history, language and culture. This characterized the people. Everything that characterized the people was glorified. In Germany, for example, folk tales were collected by the Brothers Grimm. The Brothers Grimm wrote these down because it was an important part of German culture. And this supported the nationalist feeling.
At the end of the 19th century, many men were allowed to vote. They had to be over 23 years old and had to pay a certain amount of tax. However, women were not allowed to vote. Out of dissatisfaction with this situation, the first feminist wave arose. Feminism is fighting for equal rights for men and women.