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Syndicat et partis politiques

Pietro Pavan


Dans deux articles précédents, l'auteur a précisé la nature et les objectifs des syndicats ainsi que ses rapports avec la religion. Ici, il définit le rôle respectif du syndicat et du parti politique et montre les liens idéologiques vitaux qui doivent s'établir entre l'un et l'autre. Cette étude envisage ce problème tant sur le plan théorique qu'historique.


The Union and Political Party

The party is a political organization which has as binding principle and moving force an idea which extends to all social relationships. This idea may be of a metaphysical nature and present itself as a specific conception of universal reality: universe, man, society. Such is the idea which presides in the Communist Party. There may also be an idea more specifically political, even if the course may be logically found in a deeper conception of reality. Such is the idea which penetrates the parties of Christian inspiration. The party develops its action or tends to develop it in all spheres: economic, cultural, moral and religious, with a view of acting on these relationships in order to transform them as much as possible in accordance with its programme. Finally, under the democratic system, because the party, from its nature, is called on to assume the power, to become at a given time, one of the organizations of the State — directly responsible for the public welfare — it is represented, if not formally as a public entity, at least as being deeply involved in the mechanism of the modern state.

The union, on the other hand, is the expression of a definite professional class: its reason for existence is the furthering of the interests of this professional class. Its field of action is all the more limited as it is not that of a political party. The professional interests are, above all, social and economic. This does not exclude the union from becoming the protector of cultural, moral and religious values as long as these latter are in relationship with the social and economic interests which constitute its direct objective.

The specific field of union activities always remains the furthering of the professional and economic interests belonging to each class. The union may, however, take political action. This is legitimate when it tends to promote the professional class represented by the union and to pursue its interests in the political sphere. It must develop itself in harmony with the requirements of common good, which constitutes the immediate objective of the action of a political party.


The union organization cannot be identified with that of political parties. But between unions and political parties there exist ideological ties and a reciprocal influence is felt.

The union is one of man's creations. He gives it a certain value in accordance with his conception of society. Depending on whether one has a liberal or marxist conception, or whether one considers that the human being, object and subject of society, has more possibility of being safeguarded and completely developing itself as long as society is formed in an organic pluralist system, the union takes on a particular aspect. Between a union and a party which is inspired by the same conception there must necessarily be ideological relationship which materializes in a real cooperation. This is all the more true as the unions and the party are called on to translate into social reality the same ideal.


The union differs from the political party, even of the same inspiration, as much by its origin as by the extent and nature of its objectives. People, political party, common welfare; professional class, union, professional interests.

The union, originating from the professional class with the aim of pursuing its interests, cannot but distinguish itself from the party originating from the people with the aim of pursuing the common good. Its organization and responsibilities are also different. It must therefore be concluded that unions should be independent of political parties. An organization should not exist if it is not able to assume the responsibility for its own activity. By diminishing the independence of the union, its responsibility is affected; by attacking its responsibility, its existence is rendered useless; by rendering its existence useless, the professional class loses recognition of its own reality. The union reduced to be the instrument of a party finishes by becoming an agency of the State if this party comes into power. And the sliding towards totalitarism is almost unavoidable. The union cannot be independent from the State if it is not independent from political parties.


From the beginning of the present social and economic system, the workers realized that certain objectives could only be reached by means of State intervention. Because of the democratic system, the unions realized that they could succeed in this by making the weight of their members' votes count in the balance of political struggles.

In fact, the unions promise and give political support to the candidates who propose applying a social policy. They attempt to have their voices heard in the highest organizations of the State, not only by pressure applied from outside, but by so arranging that these organizations be composed of elements sympathetic to their aspirations.

Because of the objectives they have set themselves, the unions could not keep out of politics, and, in fact, they have become interested in them. Between unions and parries of the same inspiration, relationships are vital. Two procedures have been verified historically. Sometimes it is the union that leads to the political party. In England, the Labour Party was originated by the Trade Unions; even to-day, it finds in them its principal support and draws its inspiration and directives from them. In Continental Europe, the procedure is almost always the contrary: it is the political parties which have given birth to the union organizations.