Sentence 1:

Similarily though he carried out many useful administrative reforms, in a vain effort to combat Social Democracy he seriously interefered with the liberty of public meeting and attempted the forcible suppression of Strike movements.

Why is social democracy capitalized in this sentence 1? It appears that Social Democracy here is a political party, I think but what here in the sentence tells me that it is a political party or would the surrounding sentences have told me that it is a political party name and should be capitalized?

Sentence 2:

At the end of his blog, the author observes that the US already has elements of social democracy.

Why is Sentence 2 lowercased social democracy? Is it because it is talking about a political ideology?

  • What is the source? It's very odd to capitalise "Strike" in the first sentence, so possibly the author has strange views on capitals. Or else is referring to something specific.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 25, 2021 at 23:02
  • Social Democracy is a proper noun and the name of a political party; social democracy is a common noun phrase; Social democracy is wrong except at the beginning of a sentence..
    – Greybeard
    Oct 26, 2021 at 9:51
  • I don't see why this should be closed as opinion based. The poster asks about AP style—and AP style offers clear guidelines on when to initial-cap and when to lowercase the names of political parties and political philosophies.
    – Sven Yargs
    Oct 26, 2021 at 21:13

2 Answers 2


The Associated Press Stylebook (2007) devotes a very useful entry to "political parties and philosophies." This entry indicates in some detail how newspapers that follow AP style should handle terns such as "social democracy" when they appear in various contexts. Here is the entry:

political parties and philosophies Capitalize both the name of the party and the word party if it is customarily used as part of the organization's proper name: the Democratic Party, the Republican Party.

Capitalize Communist, Conservative, Democrat, Liberal, Republican, Socialist, etc., when they refer to a specific party or its members. Lowercase these words when they refer to political philosophies (see examples below).

Lowercase the name of a philosophy in noun and adjective forms unless it is the derivative of a proper name: communism, communist, fascism, fascist. But Marxism, Marxist; Nazism, Nazi.

EXAMPLES: John Adams was a Federalist, but a man who subscribed to his philosophy today would be described as a federalist. The liberal Republican senator and his Conservative Party colleague said they believe that democracy and communism are incompatible. The Communist said he is basically a socialist who has reservations about Marxism.

So in your two examples—assuming that they abide by AP's style guidelines—the first ("[I]n a vain effort to combat Social Democracy, he seriously interfered with the liberty of public meeting..."), as you surmise, must refer to a particular political party with the formal name "Social Democracy Party"; and the second ("[T]he author observes that the US already has elements of social democracy") must refer to "social democracy" as a political philosophy independent of any particular party that may bear that name.


The AP Style Guide was first published in 1953; the OP’s first quotation is from the Encyclopedia Britannica’s 1911 edition, in an article by Justus Hashage (1877–1961), a German, on a guy named Puttkammer.

The 1911 edition is available online from several sources, as it is no longer under copyright, and is viewed as an historical artifact of considerable interest and, in fact, a beginning source for some Wikipedia articles. Its spelling is not internally consistent, and given current understanding of the nature of historical time, cannot of course have followed AP style.



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