Charter of Quaregnon
In 1894, Belgian elections were for the first time held according to the scheme of the plural right to vote under the pressure of the violent Belgian general strike of 1893. This meant for the Belgian Labour Party (POB-BWP), that for the first time workers could vote and that representatives from the party, ten years after its foundation, could enter the Belgian parliament. With a doctrinarian charter the program of the socialist party was presented to the electorate. Out of several ideas Émile Vandervelde chose this proposition, which was adopted on the Easter congress of the socialist party, at Quaregnon on 25-26 March 1894, and which became known as the Charter of Quaregnon. This charter was strongly influenced by ideas of the French socialist Jules Guesde.
As a doctrinarian source of inspiration for the Belgian Socialists, the Charter of Quaregnon survived time and two World Wars. Only after 1979, when the Belgian Socialist Party (PSB-BSP) divided into the Flemish Socialistische Partij (SP) and the Walloon Parti Socialiste (PS), newer charters were created.
Text of the charter
Charter of Quaregnon
- 1. Wealth in general, and the means of production in particular, are natural resources, or the result of manual- or intellectual labor of former generations, as well as of the present generation; consequently they must be considered as the common heritage of all humanity.
- 2. Only for reasons of social benefit and with the goal to provide as much freedom and well-being to every human, it is allowed to provide people or groups with separate rights to that common heritage.
- 3. The realization of this ideal brings with it of course the disappearance of the capitalist scheme, which divides the society in two hostile classes: one that without working can enjoy property; the other which is obliged to cede part of its produce to the ruling class.
- 4. Workers can only expect their liberation from the abolishment of classes and a thorough reorganization of society. This reform will not be exclusively for the benefit of the proletariat, but for the whole of humanity; however because she is opposed to the immediate interests of the ruling classes, the liberation of the workers must be mainly the work of the workers themselves.
- 5. On a material level the goal must be to gain the free usage of all results of production. This goal is only possible in a society where collective work replaces more and more individual work, which means the collective use of natural resources and means of production.
- 6.The conversion of the capitalist scheme in a collectivistic scheme of course must be accompanied by herewith coherent reforms:
- 7. Socialism must observe therefore at the same time the material, moral and political liberation of the workers. Nevertheless the material liberation must be the main goal, because the concentration of capital in the hands of some classes already determines the basis of the other forms of the predominance.
- Inleiding tot de geschiedenis van de Belgische arbeidersbeweging
- Th. Luykx and M. Platel, Politieke geschiedenis van België, 2 vol., Kluwer, 1985
- E. Witte, J. Craeybeckx en A. Meynen, Politieke geschiedenis van België, Standaard, 1997