Masurian People's Party
Masurian People's Party (Polish: Mazurska Partia Ludowa, MPL) was a pro-Polish agrarian political party active in Masuria between 1896 and 1914. The party was formed in 1896 but due to repression by the German police and local Prussian authorities it did not adopt an official program until 1898. It remained active until World War I.
The party was founded in November 1896 by the publicist Karol Bahrke and the poet Michał Kajka in Ełk. Other notable initial members included the agrarian peasant activists Bogumił Labusz and Gustaw Leyding. The first meeting of the founders at the house of Bahrke, on November 8th, was dispersed by German police. However, before this occurred the delegates did manage to call forth a 30 member electoral committee.
The actual program of the party was not approved until January 25, 1898.
The party was centrist in nature and drew most of its support from Masurian Polish speaking peasants. The main points of its program concentrated on the protection of the Polish language in Masuria, opposition to Germanization, as well as ensuring freedom of religion (the party included both Catholics and Protestants). Furthermore, the party program focused on agrarian issues, such as land reform, increased spending on rural infrastructure, and progressive taxation.
Political and cultural activity
The official organ of the party was the newspaper Gazeta Ludowa, whose chief editor was Bahrke.