Liberal Party

views updated Jun 27 2018

Liberal Party. Before 1868 the Liberal Party had been an uneasy coalition of Whigs and radicals. The Whigs, led by some of the richest aristocratic magnates in the land, dominated Liberal cabinets and imposed a veto on radical legislation. The broadening of the suffrage in the boroughs in the Reform Act of 1867 strengthened the radicals and the Gladstone government of 1868–74 ranks as one of the great reforming administrations of modern times. Whig disquiet grew, especially during the second Gladstone government of 1880–5. There was a slow drift of Whigs to the Conservatives but Gladstone's Home Rule Bill of 1886 was the catalyst for the realignment of parties which had long been prophesied. The bill saw a mass defection of Whigs, or moderate Liberals, to the Conservatives. Ninety-three Liberal MPs voted against its second reading in June 1886. Many of these rebels were Whigs for whom Home Rule afforded not only an incentive to leave the Liberal Party, but an excuse. The rebels, however, also included a contingent of radicals, led by Joseph Chamberlain, until then the most prominent and articulate of the radical leaders. Despite the loss of Chamberlain and his closest colleagues, the effect of the schism was to radicalize the Liberal Party.

More important than the Whig secession was the change in the character of radicalism. Until 1868 radicalism was an individualist creed. The mid-century Liberal slogan—‘Peace, Retrenchment and Reform’—summed up radical aspirations. Most radicals opposed armaments, belligerence in foreign affairs, and imperial expansion: the reforms they did espouse were political not social—the extension of the franchise, curtailment of the powers of the House of Lords, the equalization of constituency electorates, not factory legislation or the development of social services. The mid-century radicals were conspicuous champions of laissez-faire. The radical programme was negative in character. It called for the disestablishment of the Church of England and for the redress of other nonconformist grievances. It sought to limit the power of government and demanded that government should not intervene in economic and social affairs. As late as 1888, Labouchère and Bradlaugh, two of the most advanced radicals, voted against a measure to provide one half-day holiday for shop assistants. Such legislation, they averred, ‘would strike a blow at the self-reliance of the individual’.

After 1868 there was a gradual but major change in the nature of radicalism. Increasingly it was defined in collectivist terms. Radicals, perhaps seeking support from the now partly enfranchised working class, began to address the problems of industrial society. Thus, Joseph Chamberlain, while pressing the cause of disestablishment, as mayor of Birmingham embarked on a major programme of social reform in that city. Nationally, he declared for free and compulsory education and even, at one stage, urged redistributive taxation.

The exodus of the Whigs from the party has tended to obscure the significance of the transformation that was taking place. By the 1890s it was largely complete. Radicalism was now collectivist radicalism. It stopped a long way short of socialism but, even if it had no blueprint for a new society, was prepared to use the power of the state in a positive way to help the poorest sections of the nation.

The loss of the stabilizing power of the Whigs, however, meant that the way was open for every minor section of the party—the ‘faddists’ and ‘crotcheteers’ as they were called—to invoke their own demands. All parties are institutionalized log-rolls, but the Liberal Party after 1886 set a new standard for factionalism. The Welsh insisted on the disestablishment of the Church of England in Wales; the temperance lobby on the strictest control of the liquor trade; the coal-miners wanted the eight-hour day; rural Liberals agitated for parish councils and smallholdings.

In the 1890s a new cleavage developed. Individual radicals had been Little Englanders, hostile to the growth of empire and fervent for a pacific foreign policy. The Unionist Party, as the conservatives were now called, became the party of imperialism, of strong defence, and of realpolitik abroad. Many Liberals still clung to the anti-imperial prejudices of the past. But after Gladstone gave up the leadership, some of the most prominent Liberals, such as Rosebery, his successor as prime minister, demanded a reorientation of party attitudes. The Liberal Party must show that it could be trusted with the administration of a great empire. Liberal Imperialism ranged itself against Little Englandism. Asquith, Grey, and Haldane, all to hold high office in Liberal governments after 1906, were among the leaders of the new organization, the Liberal League. The onset of the Boer War dramatized and made more acute the division of the party. Liberal critics of the war were called pro-Boers, and for a time the party seemed irrevocably split. Campbell-Bannerman, chosen in 1899 because there was no one else, strove to hold Liberals together.

In the end, the mistakes of the Unionists restored the unity of the Liberal Party. The Education Act of 1902 upset the religious balance achieved by the Liberal Education Act of 1870. Nonconformists were outraged and many of those who had deserted the party in 1886 came back. More important, in 1903, Chamberlain, now one of the leading figures in the Unionist government, repudiated free trade, an article of faith to both parties for over 50 years. A minority of Unionists still believed in free trade: Balfour, the prime minister, tried to trim by adhering to a qualified protectionism, but the bulk of the party followed Chamberlain and the tariff reformers, as the protectionists were called. The Education Act and tariff reform healed the rift in the Liberal Party which, in 1906, won a landslide victory.

Liberal hegemony lasted until 1915. During those nine years the party largely completed the unfinished agenda of Victorian radicalism, restricting the powers of the Lords, introducing Irish Home Rule, and disestablishing the Church of England in Wales. At the same time it looked forward, with the introduction of old-age pensions in 1908, the Trade Boards Act of 1909, and the National Insurance Act of 1911, to the collectivist agenda of the 20th cent.

There were two general elections in 1910, both bound up with the problem of the House of Lords. The Liberals, now led by Asquith, lost their overall majority and their continuance in office depended on the recently founded Labour Party and on the Irish nationalists. The next few years were a period of bitter political conflict over Irish Home Rule and a dangerous division between the two main parties was averted only by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. A coalition government under Asquith was formed in 1915; dissatisfaction with Asquith's leadership led to the formation of a new coalition with Asquith's rival, Lloyd George, as premier. Asquith, still party leader, went into opposition, with the Conservatives and a section of the Liberals following Lloyd George. This alignment was a paradox: Lloyd George had been one of the leaders of the radical wing of the party before the war, while Asquith had been a prominent Liberal Imperialist. At the general election at the end of the war in 1918, Lloyd George and his Liberals allied with the Conservatives against Asquith's independent Liberals and Labour. The election saw a huge increase in the suffrage, with the right to vote given to women over 30 and many more male voters on the register. Many of these new voters may have had no firm party allegiance. The result was a triumph for Lloyd George and a disaster for the Liberals. Even the two wings added together could muster only 170 MPs.

The early post-war years provided the most encouraging backcloth that Labour could have had. Heavy unemployment contributed to the unpopularity of the governing coalition which Labour, with more MPs than the Asquithians, could exploit. In 1922 the Conservatives broke with Lloyd George: a purely Conservative government was formed and called an early general election. The Liberals fought as rival sections, sometimes standing against each other. Their combined total fell to 115 while Labour more than doubled its representation to 142. This was a decisive victory, for Labour now became the official opposition in Parliament and henceforth the alternative to the Conservatives. Two years and two elections later, the reshaping of the party system was confirmed. In 1924 the Liberals, though reunited, were reduced to 40 MPs.

The Liberal Party split again in 1930 over the question of supporting the minority Labour government, a split made permanent in 1932 when more than half the party's MPs decided to support the National Government, under the title of National Liberal. The independent Liberals soldiered on but elected only nineteen MPs at the general election of 1935: after the Second World War the decline continued, in a seemingly inexorable way, until the party was reduced to five MPs in 1957.

There then began the first of the post-war Liberal revivals. Those of 1958 and 1962 soon petered out; but another revival in the early 1970s was followed by a remarkable Liberal performance in the two elections of 1974, when in October, for example, the party polled one-fifth of the votes and elected 13 members. The schism in the Labour Party in 1981 led to the formation of the Liberal-SDP alliance: in 1983 it won 25 per cent of the votes (2 per cent behind Labour) and elected 23 MPs, the best showing for the Liberals since 1929. Strains within the alliance led to a merger of the two parties in 1987 under the name Liberal Democrats. In policy the party's collectivist borrowings are more evident than its individualist roots: it shares, however, the commitment of 19th-cent. Liberals to constitutional reform and the devolution of power. It, and its predecessor the Liberal Party, has been the most consistently pro-European of all three parties.

The Liberal party continued to do well in the 1990s. It maintained a strong showing in local government and, after devolution, it shared government in Scotland and Wales with Labour. At the 1997 general election, 46 Westminster seats went to the Liberals and in 2001, under the new leadership of Charles Kennedy, it increased its total to 52. In 2005 it raised its numbers of MPs to 62. This was a remarkable achievement for a party still handicapped by the ‘first past the post’ electoral system, and suggests that hopes of, at least, holding the balance of power may not be excessive. But the party remains very dependent on the ‘Celtic fringe’, with more than half of its seats held in Scotland (10), Wales (2), and the West Country (18).

Hugh Berrington


Cook, C. , A Short History of the Liberal Party, 1900–1988 (3rd edn. Basingstoke, 1989);
Douglas, R. , The History of the Liberal Party, 1895–1970 (1971);
Searle, G. R. , The Liberal Party: Triumph and Disintegration, 1886–1929 (1992);
Vincent, J. R. , The Formation of the British Liberal Party, 1857–68 (Harmondsworth, 1972).

Liberal Party (Britain)

views updated May 23 2018

Liberal Party (Britain)


The Liberal Party in Britain was formed in March 1988 as the Social and Liberal Democratic Party (SDP) when the Liberal Party merged with the Social Democratic Party. A vote in July 1989 finalized its new name as the Liberal Democrats. The two merging parties had merely strengthened the alliance between the two parties that had existed from 1981 and that had operated since that year under the dual leadership of David Steel (Liberal) and David Owen (SDP). In 1988 Owen refused to agree to the merger and Steel, although he led the Liberals into the merger, declined to lead the new party. The leadership of the new party fell to Paddy Ashdown who won a contest against Alan Beith, in July 1988. Ashdown now led a small struggling party whose position was thwarted by the fact that Owen continued to operate outside the merger with his short-lived continuing SDP, and Michael Meadowcroft, Liberal member of Parliament (MP) for Leeds West, refounded the by now miniscule Liberal Party. Nevertheless, since that period the Liberal Democrat leaders Ashdown, Charles Kennedy, and Ming Campbell have successfully revived the status of the Liberal Democrats, and indeed the old Liberal Party, to a level of political success not seen since the 1929 general election.

The revival of the Liberal Democrats began with a by-election victory at Eastbourne in October 1990, an event that contributed to the fall from office of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It continued to secure victories in parliamentary by-elections and in municipal contests, although it won only twenty seats in the House of Commons in the 1992 general election, securing only 18 percent of the vote, an insufficient number to project it to major success under the first-past-the-post (winner takes all) British system of electing the House of Commons. Nevertheless, the Liberal Democrats have continued to grow in number and influence, largely on a mixture of Liberal policies, and have risen to approximately 60 members of Parliament (MPs).

Traditionally the Liberal Party has been committed to free trade but by the 1980s it was drifting toward the view that government might, under some circumstances, be justified in intervening in economic growth. It also supported the Conservative Party in Europe in 1993 by endorsing the Conservative government and the Maastricht Treaty in 1993. The Party supported the Labour Party under Prime Minister Tony Blair, following the general election of 1997, and particularly supported the Labour governments moves toward devolution for both Scotland and Wales, the Celtic areas that the Liberal Democrats and the old Liberal Party had traditionally considered to be their strongholds. However, its distinctive demand for proportional representation in elections marks it off from the Conservative and Labour parties, who prefer to maintain the existing winner-takes-all strategy of British parliamentary politics. Although Blair set up a commission on changes in the voting system under Lord Roy Jenkins of Hillhead, LDP leader in the House of Lords, to examine alternative political systems and to make recommendations, the Labour government has shown scant interest in any system that would undermine its massive parliamentary majorities secured under the winner-takes-all system. Nevertheless, the Liberal Democrats had an indication of what might be elected when the European elections of June 1999 were conducted on a basis of proportional representation. Under the winner-takes-all system used in 1994 they secured only two members of the European Parliament (MEPs) with 17 percent of the vote. In 1999 they secured ten MEPs with only 13 percent of the vote.

Although it attracts support from across the social divide, the Liberal Democrat Party tends to attract middle-class and professional people committed to the ongoing protection of individual rights but who are prepared to accept that the state has an important social role to fulfill. It is now no longer the party of big business as it was in the nineteenth century but more that of the small shopkeeper and the small businessperson. It also represents the interests of some of the old right-wing Labour voters who left the Labour Party in 1981 to form the SDP, and which finally flowed into the Liberal Democrats.

Despite its growth, the Liberal Democratic Party of today is a far less successful party than the old Liberal Party that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century, even though its policies are still largely in tune with the old Liberal Party. The Liberal Party is considered to have emerged at a meeting at Williss Rooms in 1859 when the Whigs, Peelite Tories who opposed protectionism, and radicals met to serve under Lord Palmerston. The group was subsequently led by Lord John Russell and W. E. Gladstone, who firmly established Gladstonian Liberalism in his 18681874 and 18801885 ministries and drew considerable support from the nonconformist religions at this time. From the start the Liberal Party was committed to free trade, religious toleration, efficiency, and an international policy of promoting peace. Although the Nonconformist association has long gone, most of the other policies are reflected in the modern Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Party operated throughout the country in Liberal clubs organized into constituencies through local bodies that denoted their number: the Liberal Two Hundred or the Liberal Four Hundred. These groups were brought together and given a sense of unity by the formation of the National Liberal Federation in 1877.

Under Gladstone the Liberals split in 1886 on the issue of Home Rule for Ireland, the Home Rule supporters siding with Gladstone and the Unionists, who favored the continuation of the union with Ireland, moving with Joseph Chamberlain into the Conservative Party. Lord Rosebery, who succeeded Gladstone in 1894, pressed for issues such as temperance, strongly supported by the Nonconformists and the disestablishment of the Welsh Church. However, the divided party struggled until 1905 when it replaced the Conservatives and won a general election in 1906. This brought about a landslide Liberal victory, which sustained the Liberal Party in office until 1915 with the help of two further general elections in 1910. During these years the Liberals, greatly influenced by their parliamentary leader Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, and their Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George, introduced the Liberal social reform of old-age pensions and national insurance, which were designed to alleviate poverty and avoid the need for a costly break-up of the New Poor Law. However, though these were remarkable developments, the Liberal Party found difficulty in prosecuting effectively Word War I, which started in 1914, and Asquith formed a wartime coalition government in 1915. As a result when Asquith resigned as prime minister in 1916, perhaps with the expectation of being brought back, Lloyd George stepped into the breach. The result was a split within the Liberal Party, which was not officially healed until 1923. Even then the Liberal Party remained divided, and by the 1930s there was the Lloyd George group, the Samuel group, which was the old Liberal Party, and the Sir John Simon Liberals, who joined the Conservative Party. Long before this final split the Labour Party had replaced the Liberal Party as the progressive party of government in British politics. Over the next fifty years the Liberals declined as a party, with occasional revivals under Jo Grimond and Edward Thorpe as well as a brief period of a Lib-Lab Pact in 19771978. However, none of this brought the revival of the Liberal Party back to the position of being a party of government, and even under the modern Liberal Democratic Party the prospects of forming a government remain extremely remote.

SEE ALSO Multiparty Systems


Cook, Chris. 1998. A Short History of the Liberal Party 19001997. London: Macmillan.

Dangerfield, George. 1936. The Strange Death of Liberal England. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997.

Grigg, John. 1978. Lloyd George: The Peoples Champion, 19021911. London: Eyre Methuen.

Searle, George R. 1992. The Liberal Party: Triumph and Disintegration, 18861929. London: Macmillan.

Stevenson, John. 1992. Third Party Politics in Britain since 1945. Oxford: Blackwell.

Keith Laybourn

Liberal Party

views updated May 29 2018

Liberal Party

The first Liberal Party of Chile (Partido Liberal) consisted of a group of men who shared vague ideals rather than a cohesive ideology. Crushed by the Conservatives at the battle of Lircay in 1830, the party dissolved, and its supporters went to ground. The Manuel Bulnes administration (1841–1851) proved more benign than its predecessor, permitting a more open political atmosphere. A split in Conservative ranks provided the impetus and the leadership for the creation of the Liberal Party. The dissident Conservatives attracted the support of pre-1830 Liberals as well as a new generation of political mavericks, such as Francisco Bilbao and José Victorino Lastarria, who were strongly influenced by events in Europe, particularly the various revolutions of 1848. Together they founded the Liberal Party in 1849.

The newly created Liberals did not fare well. Twice, in 1851 and 1859, they participated in rebellions intended to bring political change to Chile. Displeased by the Manuel Montt administration (1851–1861), the Liberals began to side with Conservatives to form an antigovernment opposition. The conclusion of the Montt regime, however, brought the Liberals into increasing prominence and even into the José Joaquín Pérez administration's cabinet. Under their aegis the legislature gave rights to non-Catholics, reduced the powers of the president to suspend the Constitution, and limited his tenure to one term.

From 1871 to 1891, Liberal presidents ruled Chile, initiating legislation that amplified civil rights, reduced the power of the government, enfranchised more people, and secularized many institutions. The party, however, suffered on various occasions from numerous splits, which limited its effectiveness, often forcing it to forge coalitions in order to rule.

Like the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party did not hold its first convention until late: in September 1892, when it announced its support for the parliamentary system and free elections. Because of its propensity for internal disputes and lack of organization, the party lost much of its effectiveness during the first half of the parliamentary period. The Liberal Party rarely lived up to its name: other than calling for separation of church and state, it tended to concentrate on political change rather than demand substantive socioeconomic reforms. Even the Conservatives were more liberal.

The Liberals continued to splinter after 1925, with each faction often supporting different candidates. Periodically, Liberals participated in various cabinets, even working with Communists on one occasion, thereby indicating that political consistency was not their strong suit. Despite its problems, the Liberal Party still elected candidates largely from rural areas where it could control the peasant vote. For the same reasons the Conservatives lost congressional power—changes in the electoral law and an end to election fraud—the Liberals lost as well. By 1965 they had attracted but 7.3 percent of the congressional vote, electing only six deputies and five senators. Increasingly, the Liberal Party functioned as part of a coalition. Its last experience, working with Conservatives and Radicals to elect a congressional candidate, failed dismally. Recognizing the problems confronting it, in 1966 the Liberals joined the Conservatives, once their mortal foes, to create the National Party which lasted until the early 1990s.

See alsoBilbao Barquín, Francisco; Bulnes Prieto, Manuel; Lastarria, José Victorino; Liberalism.


Sergio Guilisasti, Partidos políticos chilenos (1964), pp. 71-128.

Federico G. Gil, The Political System of Chile (1966), pp. 231-243, 252-256, 308-309.

James O. Morris, Elites, Intellectuals, and Consensus: A Study of the Social Question and the Industrial Relations System in Chile (1966), pp. 9, 101, 144-171, 180-184, 187, 217, 233-234.

Ben G. Burnett, Political Groups in Chile (1970), pp. 161-170, 178-181.

Karen L. Remmer, Party Competition in Argentina and Chile: Political Recruitment and Public Policy, 1890–1930 (1984), pp. 12-19, 23, 74-76, 80, 82, 85, 117-120.

Additional Bibliography

Collier, Simon. Chile: The Making of a Republic, 1830–1865: Politics and Ideas. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Scully, Timothy. Rethinking the Center: Party Politics in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-century Chile. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992.

Stuven, Ana María. La seducción de un orden: Las elites y la construcción de Chile en las polémicas culturales y políticas del siglo XIX. Santiago: Ediciones Universidad Católica de Chile, 2000.

                                         William F. Sater

Liberal Party

views updated May 23 2018

Liberal Party

The Liberal Party (Partido Liberal), one of the two great parties of the monarchy (1822–1889), formed (c. 1837) in opposition to the Conservative Party's reactionary, authoritarian regime. A minority party, the Liberals circumvented Conservative hegemony by an 1840 coup (the Majoridade, bringing the adolescent emperor to power early in return for cabinet control). When the emperor's advisers engineered their fall (1841), the Liberals revolted (1842) in São Paulo and Minas Gerais and were pitilessly repressed. This failure, and that of Pernambuco's Praieira Revolt (1848), confirmed the Conservatives' goal: state power was to be preeminent and exercised indirectly by the Crown through cabinet control of patronage, elections, and legislation.

In order to defend and increase their partisans, the Liberal cabinets of the mid-1840s refused to reverse such control. This pragmatism caused a rift between purists and the party's leadership. Indeed, pragmatists from both parties joined to form the Conciliation cabinets (1853–1857) and some successors, culminating in the Progressive League (1862).

This league was a parliamentary coalition in which moderate Conservative dissidents led the Liberals against the Conservative Party (despite divisions over reforms and marked internal suspicion) and presided over cabinets in 1862 and 1864–1868. The league's gradual reformism and crown support were undermined in parliament, where the purists of both parties attacked them as either going too far or attempting too little.

In 1868, the emperor brought the Conservatives to power (partly to support the Conservative general leading imperial forces in the War of the Triple Alliance); they held it exclusively until 1878. This monopoly led to Liberal radicalization. The Progressive League leaders and the old Liberal purists united to refound the Liberal Party and called for dramatic reforms in the Liberal Manifesto of 1869. A radical faction called for even more dramatic reform, and others went still further, deciding to form the Republican Party (1870).

The Liberals used reformism to critique the Conservative cabinets until 1879; afterward several Liberal cabinets, increasingly divided, failed to effect such programs themselves: abolition of slavery, reform of the emperor's prerogatives, decentralization, separation of church and state. By 1889, the last prime minister, a Liberal, led a party so badly splintered that his refurbished radical proposals (designed to save the monarchy) failed to secure support in the Chamber of Deputies, thereby adding to the postabolitionist milieu of political crisis.

See alsoBrazil, Liberal Movements; Conciliação.


Joaquim Nabuco, Um estadista do império, 3 vols. (1898–1899).

Emilia Viotti Da Costa, The Brazilian Empire (1985).

Ilmar Rohloff De Mattos, O tempo saquarema (1987).

Roderick J. Barman, Brazil: The Forging of a Nation (1988).

Leslie Bethell, ed., Brazil: Empire and Republic (1989), chaps. 2-4.

Richard Graham, Patronage and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Brazil (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Needell, Jeffrey D. The Party of Order: The Conservatives, the State, and Slavery in the Brazilian Monarchy, 1831–1871. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006.

Peixoto, Antonio Carlos, Lucia Maria Paschoal Guimarães, and Maria Emília Prado. O liberalismo no Brasil imperial: Origens, conceitos e prática. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Revan, 2001.

                                     Jeffrey D. Needell

Liberal Party

views updated Jun 27 2018

Liberal Party

The Liberal Party (Partido Liberal) was one of the two traditional political parties in Paraguay. Arising out of the political confusion of the mid-1880s, the party was originally a small clique of some forty friends, most of them asunceños. They had little ideological orientation per se and were chiefly interested in displacing the governing faction led by Bernardino Caballero, Patricio Escobar, and José Segundo Decoud. This latter group, reacting to the establishment of the Liberal Party in 1887, created the Colorado Party during the same year. Thus were mapped out the two contending sides of an enduring political rivalry.

The Liberals got a chance at power in 1891, when they attempted to overthrow the moderate Colorado government of Juan Gualberto González. Their failure led to a split in the party that paralleled a split among the Colorados and led to no end of intrigues over the next decade.

The Liberal Party reunified in 1902, setting the stage for a major revolution two years later that finally gave the Liberals control of the government. The Liberal rule that followed was distinguished by a broad commitment to laissez-faire economic policies and by heavy-handed paternalism in the political realm. The limitations of this model were clear by the mid-1930s, when a combination of factors—the Great Depression, the Chaco War, and the rise of a more radical political alternative—brought about the February Revolution of 1936.

The Liberals, though still relatively unpopular, were briefly restored to power at the end of the decade, but the ancien régime was clearly on the wane. The well-known war hero, General José Félix Estigarribia, promised to "modernize" party doctrine when he became president in 1939. Instead, his death one year later brought about an outright ban on party activities from 1941 to 1946 during the presidency of Higínio Morínigo.

Except for a brief flicker of promise at the time of the 1947 civil war, the Liberal Party has remained in opposition ever since. During the Stronato (1954–1989), the Liberals again split into several factions, with a minority advocating cooperation with General Alfredo Stroessner. Repressive measures enacted against the majority faction, led by Domingo Laino, kept traditional Liberals on their guard until the dictator's fall in 1989. Even with subsequent democratic reforms, however, the party did not regain the strong influence it had once commanded, obtaining only 20 percent of the vote in the 1989 presidential election. As of 2006, the successor of the Liberal Party, the Authentic Radical Liberal Party received approximately 25 percent of the vote in the legislative elections.

See alsoParaguay: The Twentieth Century; Paraguay, Political Parties: Colorado Party.


R. Andrew Nickson, Historical Dictionary of Paraguay (1993), pp. 452-455.

Additional Bibliography

Freire Esteves, Gomes. Historia contemporánea del Paraguay. Asunción, Paraguay: El Lector, 1996.

Lewis, Paul H. Political Parties and Generations in Paraguay's Liberal Era, 1869–1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993.

                                    Thomas L. Whigham

Liberal Party

views updated May 14 2018

Liberal Party British political party. It grew out of the early 19th-century Whigs. The first official use of the name was the National Liberal Federation founded (1877) by Joseph Chamberlain, although the administration (1855–58) of Lord Palmerston is often regarded as Liberal. Its predominant interests were free trade, religious and individual liberty, financial retrenchment and constitutional reform. Its greatest leader was William Gladstone, who led four governments (1868–74, 1880–85, 1885–86, 1892–94). The government of (1905–08) Henry Campbell-Bannerman legalized trade unions, reformed the House of Lords, and introduced progressive social security measures. In 1908, Herbert Asquith became leader and prime minister. In 1916, Lloyd George formed a coalition government with the Conservative Party. Since Lloyd George, it has never formed a government. After the formation (1980) of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Liberal Party entered into an alliance, and then merged with it in 1987. In 1988, the Liberal members and most of the SDP formed the Liberal Democrats. A small Liberal Party still exists.

Liberal Party

views updated May 21 2018

Liberal Party

The Liberal Party arose in Venezuela in 1840 to oppose the government of José Antonio Páez. Its formation resulted from the breakup of the consensus among the ruling elite that had been the foundation for the republic's establishment in 1830.

In the pages of El Venezolano, the Liberal Party's mouthpiece, an intense campaign was waged in defense of political pluralism, freedom of the press, and the existence of parties as a mechanism for settling political differences. In the area of economics, party members expressed fierce opposition to the Conservative government's measures because they favored the business sector. Like the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party was composed of groups with diverse orientations and interests; however, its stress was upon promoting agriculture and defending the interests of landowners.

The Liberals initially backed the first government of José Tadeo Monagas, then later participated in the March Revolution of 1858, in which they allied with the Conservatives in removing Monagas from power. Seeing their political participation limited under the government that arose out of this revolution, the Liberals distanced themselves from the regime. They mounted a new revolution which quickly spread throughout the country and initiated the Federal War (1859–1863).

During the period of great political instability after the war, the Liberals came to power. Finally in 1870, with the triumph of the April Revolution led by Antonio Guzmán Blanco, the period of Liberal Party dominance, which would last until the end of the century, began. By the end of Cipriano Castro's regime in 1908, however, the party was virtually defunct.

See alsoPáez, José Antonio .


Elías Pino Iturrieta, Las ideas de los primeros venezolanos (1987).

Inés Quintero, Pensamiento liberal del siglo XIX: Antología (1992).

Additional Bibliography

Raynero, Lucía. La noción de libertad en los políticos venezolanos del siglo XIX, 1830–1848. Caracas: Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, 2002.

Vaamonde, Gustavo Adolfo. Oscuridad y confusión: El pueblo y la política venezolana del siglo XIX en las ideas de Antonio Guzmán Blanco. Caracas: Universidad Católica Andrés Bello: Fundación Polar, 2004.

Zahler, Reuben. "Honor, Corruption, and Legitimacy: Liberal Projects in the Early Venezualan Republic, 1821–50." Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 2002.

                                         InÉs Quintero

Liberal Party

views updated May 23 2018

Liberal Party

Colombia's Liberal Party was founded in the late 1840s and is one of Latin America's oldest functioning political parties. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Liberal Party was characterized by its positions in favor of decentralized political authority, free trade, and a clear separation between church and state. During the twentieth century, the party began to address the concerns of peasants and the working class, although it continued to be dominated by social and economic elites. In the early twenty-first century the party is a mainstream, center-left political party that is still characterized by patron-client ties in many regions. Since the return to freely contested elections in 1974, the Liberal Party has, for the most part, dominated the political arena. However, it has had difficulty recovering from the widely publicized drug corruption scandal of Liberal President Ernesto Samper (1994–1998), and has lost its longstanding control of both houses of Congress as well as the presidential elections of 1998 (to a Conservative, Andres Pastrana) and 2002 and 2006 (to a dissident Liberal, Alvaro Uribe, running as an independent with Conservative Party support).

See alsoColombia, Political Parties: Radical Olympus .


Archer, Ronald P. "Party Strength and Weakness in Colombia's Besieged Democracy." In Building Democratic Institutions: Party Systems in Latin America, edited by Scott Mainwaring and Timothy R. Scully. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995.

Gutiérrez Sanín, Francisco. "Historias de democratización anómala: El Partido Liberal en el sistema politico colombiano desde el Frente Nacional hasta hoy." In Degradación o cambio: Evolución del sistema politico colombiano, edited by Francisco Gutiérrez Sanín. Bogotá: Grupo Editorial Norma, 2002.

                                      John C. Dugas

Liberal Party

views updated Jun 11 2018

Liberal Party

The Liberal Party came to power in 1899 after defeating the Conservative Party in the Federalist War (1898–1899) and remained in power until 1920. The Liberals continued many of the programs of the Conservatives, such as encouraging the sale of Indian community lands and developing the infrastructure for the export economy, especially the railroad network that carried minerals to the Pacific coast. This era coincided with the tin-mining boom, which utilized the rail network first developed by the Conservatives for silver exports. After unsuccessful attempts to put down Brazilian filibustering expeditions, the Liberal administration was forced to sell the Acre region in the northeastern part of the country to Brazil in 1903. The party then began to promote a liberal land-grant policy in 1905 to settle frontier lands. Only when it became clear that wealthy absentee landowners had purchased vast extents without populating the frontiers was this policy stopped in 1915. Although the party had been founded by Eliodoro Camacho in 1883 as a force advocating the continuation of the War of the Pacific (1879–1884), it was the most important Liberal president, Ismael Montes, who signed the definitive peace treaty with Chile. The Liberal Party era was one of political peace and prosperity, during which Bolivia modernized rapidly.

See alsoWar of the Pacific .


The best description of the Liberal Party era is Herbert S. Klein, Parties and Political Change in Bolivia: 1880–1952 (1969), pp. 31-63. See also Juan Albarracín Millán, El poder minero en la administracíon liberal (1972).

Additional Bibliography

Irurozqui, Marta. La armonía de las desigualdades: Elites y conflictos de poder en Bolivia, 1880–1920. Madrid, Spain: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas; Cuzco, Peru: Centro de Estudios Regionales Andinos Bartolomé de las Casas, 1994.

Irurozqui, Marta. "Political Leadership and Popular Consent: Party Strategies in Bolivia, 1880–1899." Americas 53, no. 3 (January 1997): 395-423.

                                       Erick D. Langer

Liberal Party

views updated Jun 27 2018

Liberal Party Australian political party. It was formed (1913) in opposition to the Labor Party. In 1944, Robert Menzies created a new Liberal Party from the remains of the United Australia Party. In 1949, Menzies became prime minister of a Liberal-Country coalition government. In 1966 Harold Holt succeeded Menzies as prime minister and leader of the Liberal Party. The Liberals returned to office under John Gorton (1968–71) and William McMahon (1971–72). In 1975, Malcolm Fraser defeated Gough Whitlam to become prime minister (1975–83). In 1996, after five successive Labor governments, the Liberal Party regained power under John Howard.

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Liberal party (England)

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