Conservative Party (Britain)

views updated May 23 2018

Conservative Party (Britain)


The British Conservative Party is one of the oldest and most successful democratic political parties in the world. The party originated in the late seventeenth century as the aristocratic Tory faction in parliament, with the name Conservative achieving currency only in the nineteenth century. In 1894 the partys official name became the Conservative and Unionist Party following a merger of the Conservatives and the Liberal Unionist Party. The merger was a result of a protracted conflict that split the Liberal Party into home rule and unionist groups, with the latter joining the Conservatives to maintain the union of Great Britain and Ireland. In the twentieth-century, the Liberals were replaced by the socialist Labour Party as the Conservatives principal rivals for power following a further Liberal split during the First World War. The Liberals did not disappear, but they remained an ideologically centrist third party whose fortunes mostly waned, and occasionally waxed, over time.

There are three major components in Conservative thought. The firstoften labeled Tory Conservatism has roots in the ideas of the British philosopher-politician Edmund Burke (17291797). Burke argued that societies were organic, but not static, entities. Social change should be gradual and evolutionary, rather than abrupt and revolutionary. A principal task of the Conservative Party and its leaders was to guide change in ways that would preserve the essential elements of Britains social fabric. For Burke, the maintenance of hierarchy, continuity, and an interlocking system of mutual social obligations were the ends of good government.

Burkes ideas were given renewed force in the late nineteenth century by Benjamin Disraeli (18041881). Leading his party and country when the Industrial Revolution was creating a new urban working class, Disraeli propounded the idea that Britain was One Nation. Rather than arraying itself in a coalition with the middle and upper classes that was indifferent to working class concerns, Disraeli proposed that the Conservatives develop policies that would serve the interests of all classes.

Inspired by Disraelis One Nation ideas, many subsequent Conservative politicians and political thinkers endorsed the broad panoply of social programs characteristic of the twentieth-century welfare state. Much of this was prompted by the Labour Partys victory in the general election of 1945 and the popular program of policy changes introduced by their government. By doing this, the Conservative Party was able to recover lost ground and capture power again in 1951. One Nation Conservatives also adopted assumptions of Keynesian economics, particularly the idea that substantial state intervention in the economy could control inflation and unemployment, while also promoting growth and innovation. By the late 1950s, Conservative and Labour policies had become rather similar, leading observers to coin the term Butskellism an amalgam of the names of the leading Conservative politician Rab Butler and the Labour leader Hugh Gaitskellto describe the convergence between the parties platforms.

A third, laissez-faire, component of Conservative thought rejects the interventionist thrust of the Disraeli-Butler tradition. This reflects the free-market ideas associated with Adam Smith that were originally embraced by the Liberal Party. Beginning in the late 1960s, Sir Keith Joseph and other advocates of free-market economics and smaller government became increasingly influential in the party. This neoliberal movement found a champion for its ideas in Margaret Thatcher, who succeeded Edward Heath as the party leader in 1975. In 1979, a combination of accelerating economic decline coupled with mounting social and political turmoil enabled Thatcher to lead her party to power. Thatcherism subsequently came to describe a mix of policies designed to promote free-market economics and lessen public reliance on what Mrs. Thatcher derisively termed the nanny state. In foreign affairs, following Winston Churchill and other earlier Conservative leaders, Thatcher vigorously opposed communism and promoted strong ties with the United States.

Although initially unpopular, Thatchers public standing improved markedly in 1982 as a result of Britains victory over Argentina in the Falklands War. After leading her party in two more successful general elections, her tenure as prime minister abruptly ended in November 1990 when she was ousted in an intra-party revolt. Her replacement was John Major, who achieved a very narrow and widely unexpected victory in the 1992 general election. Conservative support was then driven sharply downward by a relentless combination of recession and economic mismanagement, internecine conflict over relations with the European Union, and persistent allegations of sleaze.

The partys vulnerability was enhanced by the resurgence of the Labour Party. Labour had lurched to the ideological left in the late 1970s, effectively making itself unelectable for nearly two decades. However, under the leadership of Neil Kinnock and John Smith, and then Tony Blair, Labour again became a serious contender for power. Chosen party leader in 1994, Blair argued that a Labour government should use the tools of capitalist economics to generate the resources needed to achieve egalitarian policy goals, specifically to fund cherished social programs cut by successive Thatcher-Major governments. In 1997, Blairs New Labour party won a landslide victory, reducing the Conservative vote to 30.7 percent, the lowest figure in over 100 years. In two ensuing general elections, that figure increased only marginallyto 31.7 percent in 2001, and to 32.4 percent in 2005.

In the early twenty-first century, the Conservatives are no longer the dominant force that prompted observers to lionize them as Britains natural governing party. Searching for new ideas with widespread appeal, subject to continuing intraparty conflict, and suffering much reduced local party membership, Conservatives have struggled to find a formula for renewal. Acting on the correct assumption that one part of a winning formula is leadership, the party has fielded four leadersWilliam Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard, and David Cameronsince their 1997 debacle. Two of these people (Hague and Howard) promptly led the party to electoral defeat, and one (Duncan Smith) was ousted before he had a chance to do so. However, Cameron may fare better. He is attempting to cast off the legacy of Thatcherism by moving his party back to the ideological center ground and casting himself as both competent and compassionate. His efforts to improve Conservative fortunes are being helped by widespread dissatisfaction among Labour supporters with Tony Blair, and by a series of misfortunes similar to those that beset the Conservatives in the 1990s. Whether this combination of strategy and circumstance will prove a winning one for the Conservative Party remains to be seen.

SEE ALSO Labour Party (Britain); Liberal Party (Britain); Parliament, United Kingdom; Thatcher, Margaret


Boothroyd, David. 2001. Politicos Guide to the History of British Political Parties. London: Politicos Publishing.

Clarke, Harold D., David Sanders, Marianne C. Stewart, and Paul Whiteley. 2004. Political Choice in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Norpoth, Helmut. 1992. Confidence Regained: Economics, Mrs. Thatcher, and the British Voter. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Whiteley, Paul, Patrick Seyd, and Jeremy Richardson. 1994. True Blues: The Politics of Conservative Party Membership. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harold D. Clarke
Paul F. Whiteley

Conservative Party

views updated May 18 2018

Conservative Party. The less reformist of the (normally) two main parties in British politics. It has a longer history than any other political party, perhaps anywhere, with an institutional continuity under that name from the early 1830s, though it drew upon older traditions including a church and king Toryism. (In common currency ‘Tory’ has often been interchangeable with ‘Conservative’.) The matrix of 19th-cent. Conservatism lay in the younger Pitt's government, a cause given wider appeal and by its resistance to the Jacobinism of revolutionary France. Constitutional and societal conservatism united the old court party (largely placemen under Treasury patronage) and most of the country gentlemen in the Commons. A long near-monopoly of government ended only in 1830 when issues like catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform broke up old solidarities. The loss of office and Treasury patronage (itself in decline) forced the organization of an independent party from a position of opposition. The Reform Bill struggle of 1831–2, though a defeat, was a crucible of party development and the newly named Conservative Party set itself to limit further damage to established institutions. The Carlton Club, founded in 1832 and moved to Pall Mall in 1835, symbolized this development. Wellington and Peel were the recognized leaders, though the latter's ‘Tamworth manifesto’ of December 1834, a statement of political strategy, was not a party document.

The party operated within the framework of the parliamentary constitution and its organization helped to fill the gap left by the decline of the crown's influence in the ‘making’ of a House of Commons. It was in competition with the rival Whig Party, which, with its radical allies, developed into the Liberal Party. The disintegration of the Liberals in the early 20th cent. meant the Conservatives' main challenge came from the trade union-based Labour Party mobilizing the working-class vote. That change also involved a shift in the dominant issues. The Victorian Conservative Party was identified with the defence of the constitution and the causes and interests associated with it: the monarchy and House of Lords, the established churches, the Union with Ireland, landownership, property rights and inheritance, a limited franchise. Always associated, particularly at the parliamentary level, with wealth and privilege, it also reflected vertical divisions in society: church against chapel, land and agriculture against industry, the countryside against the larger towns. From around the Great War these traditional causes were largely superseded by socio-economic issues, a change assisted by the Irish settlement, the Bolshevik revolution, and economic depression. The main threats identified by the party were now trade unionism, egalitarianism, redistributive welfare, socialism, and Bolshevism. The Conservatives became more a party of business (companies and entrepreneurs took over its main financing) and more clearly the party of middle-class interests. Its leaders now came to be drawn from the business and professional classes rather than the landed and titled. The 1951 general election's overwhelmingly Conservative middle-class vote represented a peak of class-based voting. At the same time nearly a third of the enfranchised working classes has usually supported the Conservatives for reasons of patriotic identity, resentment of immigrant groups, hostility to catholics or dissenters, or just a sense of economic interest.

The party's history has a pronounced periodization. After the long dominance of constitutional loyalism down to 1830, the Conservatives spent most of the period 1830–86 in opposition. Only two general elections, 1841 and 1874, were won. Franchise extensions and advancing urbanization and industrialization handicapped the party and its 1846 split over the Corn Laws left long-term damage. It then benefited from the comparable Liberal split over Irish Home Rule in 1886 and was maintained in office by the Liberal Unionists for most of the next 20 years. (The two parties merged as the Conservative and Unionist Party in 1912.) Though hit by the Parliament Act removing the absolute veto of the Conservative-dominated House of Lords in 1911 and by the progress of Home Rule, the Conservatives gained from the Great War, which brought them back into government and divided the Liberals again. Faced with three-party politics and the first Labour governments in the 1920s, the Conservatives, who gained most of the disintegrating Liberal vote, established themselves as the dominant party, despite the impact of economic depression, and controlled the National Government coalition from 1931. The Second World War undermined this position: it brought Labour into government and to the management of the ‘home front’, and the 1945 general election was lost decisively by the Conservatives. The 1945–51 Labour government established a ‘post-war consensus’ around a mixed economy, the welfare state, and a commitment to full employment. Conservative governments from 1951 to 1964 were founded on acceptance of this legacy as well as upon rising living standards and Cold War diplomacy. What was left of the colonial empire was liquidated, a process now seen even by most Conservatives as a legitimate application of democratic self-government. The party had come to terms with full democracy (except in its own internal structures where hierarchy and the notion of ‘leadership’ continued to appeal). With the breakdown of this domestic consensus by the 1970s under pressure of rising inflation, labour disputes, increasing unemployment, and declining economic competitiveness, the party turned (perhaps returned) sharply towards the free-market economics represented by the Thatcher government of 1979–90. This tenure of office and four successive general election victories were assisted by divisions within the Labour Party and the opposition generally. Though the 20th cent. stood more than the 19th as ‘the Conservative century’, Conservative dominance of government owed much to the fragmentation of the political left.

Conservative victory in 1992 was very much a mixed blessing. The majority was small, the party badly split on Europe, and John Major struggled to impose his authority, at one point standing for re-election as party leader. The party was also increasingly handicapped by its weak appeal in Scotland and Wales, where in 1997 it did not win a single seat, and by its breach with the Ulster Unionists, who at one time had been staunch allies. More and more it resembled an English National Party. After a series of allegations of ‘sleaze’, its defeat in 1997 was not unexpected, but its poor showing in 2001, despite the exertions of William Hague, was a bitter blow. In 2005, under the leadership of Michael Howard, the party recovered some ground, but fell far short of gaining a majority.

The Conservative Party has never had a clear ideological identity. Social paternalism, laissez-faire, state corporatism, religiosity and materialism, free trade and protectionism have all had their influence, though major division and damage have only rarely arisen from the tensions. Loyalties to the constitution and its symbols, social order, and patriotism have substituted for ideological coherence. Conservative political practice has generally been pragmatic, geared to the needs of electoral success and office-holding. The long history of the party adds also to the blurring of ideological identity. The political right has never needed to recreate itself in Britain as in many continental countries. The Conservative Party's continuity reflects that of the state and nation which have not suffered conquest, major defeat, or social revolution. It also reflects the nature of economic and social development in Britain. The extent of social well-being among a large middle class and even sections of the working classes has facilitated the Conservative practice of defending great property through an alliance with small property.

Bruce Coleman


Blake, R. , The Conservative Party from Peel to Churchill (1970);
Coleman, B. , Conservatism and the Conservative Party in Nineteenth-Century Britain (1988);
Seldon, A., and Ball, S. (eds.), Conservative Century: The Conservative Party since 1900 (Oxford, 1994).

Conservative Party

views updated May 23 2018

Conservative Party

Other than possessing a commitment to maintaining social order and preserving property rights, the original Conservative Party (Partido Conservador) did not hold its first convention until 1878. Lacking an ideology for their first forty years of existence did not seem to trouble the Conservatives. Emerging victorious from the Battle of Lircay (1830), the Conservatives happily turned power over to Diego Portales, who created a strong centralized government wielding enough power to keep order. Once the Conservatives lost control of the Moneda (government house), they tried to reduce the power of the central government and enhance political liberties. Paradoxically, they still insisted that the state support the Catholic Church's desire to deny Protestants religious freedom. Even after losing the presidency, the Conservatives continued to hold ministerial posts. In the 1870s, however, the Conservatives broke with the other parties over the issue of the role of the Roman Catholic Church and did not participate in government until after the 1891 revolution.

Although numerically small, the Conservative Party remained highly disciplined. It managed to preserve its share of the seats in the legislature largely because most of its members were large landowners who cynically forced their inquilinos (tenant farmers) to vote for Conservative candidates. The so-called reforms produced by the 1891 revolution enhanced the Conservatives' power base by permitting local governments, not the Moneda, to supervise the electoral process. This power, plus the fact that rural communities were overrepresented in the legislature, breathed new life into the Conservative cause.

At its 1901 party convention some Conservatives, under the influence of Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, began to advocate social and economic reforms: the construction of housing for the poor, improvement of working conditions, and increased educational opportunities. Social and economic reform continued to be one of the party's concerns.

The party managed to survive, but when it turned to the right, in the early 1930s, it lost several of its brightest members, some of whom bolted to form what became the Christian Democratic Party (PDC). After 1945, those who remained within the Conservative Party split into two groups: the Social Christian wing and the traditionalists. Later the Social Christians would join the PDC. The party managed to retain wide support, often outpolling the Left. Changes in the election process and a refusal of the inquilinos to accept passively their patrons' control led to a collapse of the Conservative Party's base of support. In 1965, for example, the Conservatives won only 5 percent of the vote in the congressional elections, losing all its places in the Senate and retaining only three places in the lower house. In order to unify the right wing and not dissipate their power, the Conservatives, in league with the Liberals, formed the National Party in 1966.

The Conservative Party retains its faith in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. While it does not question democracy, it wishes to reduce the power of the central government. Economically, it favors the free-enterprise system, but admits that private property rights can be subordinated to the needs of society. It remains an elitist, upper-class party, whose members are large provincial property owners. Needless to say, these elements resisted attempts at agrarian reform, which they often denounced as a U.S. plot.

The National Party continued its opposition to the Allende administration, working in league with the Christian Democrats in crucial by-elections and in supporting various antigovernment labor actions. The Nationals fielded candidates in the 1989 congressional elections but elected none.

See alsoAgrarian Reform; Allende Gossens, Salvador; Leo XIII, Pope; Portales Palazuelos, Diego José Pedro Víctor.


Fredrick B. Pike, Chile and the United States, 1880–1962 (1963), pp. 250-256.

Federico G. Gil, The Political System of Chile (1966), pp. 245-252.

Germán Urzúa Valenzuela, Los partidos políticos chilenos (1968), pp. 102-134.

Ben Burnett, Political Groups in Chile: The Dialogue Between Order and Change (1970), pp. 161-170, 178-181.

Karen L. Remmer, Party Competition in Argentina and Chile (1984), pp. 12-15, 72-74, 76-80, 117-120.

Additional Bibliography

Pereira L., Teresa. El Partido Conservador, 1930–1965: Ideas, figuras y actitudes. Fundación Mario Góngora, 1994.

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

                                         William F. Sater

Conservative Party

views updated May 23 2018

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party was the most important of the Brazilian monarchy. Founded in 1837 by reactionaries among the liberal Moderados, the party dominated the last years of the Regency (1831–1840) and the seminal beginnings of the Second Reign (1840–1889). Indeed, its leaders figured in the most important initiatives of the period, for example, the conciliação (1853–1857), which ended the initial partisan struggles between Conservatives and Liberals; foreign policy in the Río de la Plata area (1848–1870); far-reaching reformism in the early 1870s; and the final abolition of slavery in 1888. From 1837 to the monarchy's fall in 1889, there were forty cabinets; Conservatives controlled more than half of the cabinets over more than thirty-two years in power. Moreover, nine of the ten longest administrations had Conservative leadership, including the three longest and most decisive: that of the Marquês de Olinda and Viscount de Monte Alegre (1848–1852), that of Marquês de Paraná (1853–1857), and that of Viscount do Rio Branco (1871–1875).

The party was born of the reaction against Regency decentralization and democratization, which were perceived to be the cause of the secessionist popular revolts of the era. The most dynamic party element, called the Saquaremas, dominated the party during the period when these issues remained unresolved, ca. 1837–1852. Generally trained magistrates, Saquaremas were identified with the slaveholding planter and merchant interests of Rio de Janeiro, allied to similar elements of Bahia and Pernambuco, and emphasized an authoritarian, constitutional state as the only secure guarantor of social order and national integrity. Eusébio de Queirós, Paulino José Soares de Sousa (later Viscount do Uruguai), and Joaquim José Rodrigues Tôrres (later Viscount de Itaboraí), the Saquarema "trinity," organized the Conservative majority in the Chamber and, working closely with Bernardo Pereira de Vasconcelos and Honôrio Hermeto Carneiro Leão (later Marquês de Paraná), led the parliamentary Regresso, or reaction, which, by 1841, reversed the liberal reforms of 1831–1834. As ministers, senators, and councilors of state, they later figured in the repression of the last Liberal revolts of 1842 and 1848 and oversaw the ministry of 1848–1853, which consolidated the Monarchy as the preeminent force in national politics and in the international relations of the Río de la Plata.

With the maturity of Pedro II by the 1850s, a movement against Saquarema hegemony and partisan strife triumphed, associated with the Marquês de Paraná's opening to Liberals and electoral reforms. By the 1860s, key moderate Conservatives, such as José Tomás Nabuco De Araújo, shifted over to the Liberals, and the Conservative Party itself was increasingly dominated by Paraná's protege, the one-time Liberal, José Maria Paranhos de Silva (later Viscount do Rio Branco). The latter was able to defeat the Saquaremas' heirs in the struggle over gradual abolition of slavery in 1871, thus fatally dividing the party. By 1888, the party's reformist wing successfully presided over slavery's complete abolition. The ideological incoherence this suggests points to the party's increasing demoralization and disarray, central to the context for the military's republican coup of 1889.

See alsoBrazil, The Empire (First); Brazil, The Empire (Second).


Joaquim Nabuco, Um estadista do impérro (1898–1899).

José Antonio Soares De Sousa, A vida do visconde do Uruguai (1944).

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

Roderick Barman, Brazil: The Forging of a Nation, 1798–1852 (1988).

José Murilo De Carvalho, Teatro de sombras (1988).

Emília Viotti Da Costa, The Brazilian Empire (1988).

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

Jeffrey D. Needell, "Brasilien 1830–1889," in Raymond Buve and John Fisher, eds., Handbuch der Geschichte Lateinamericas, vol. 2 (1992).

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.

                                       Jeffrey D. Needell

Conservative Party

views updated May 29 2018

Conservative Party

One of Ecuador's two historic political parties, the Partido Conservador emerged informally in the 1860s during the dictatorship of Gabriel García Moreno and was officially founded in 1883. Consistent with the tenets of García Moreno, the party staked out a position as the unyielding champion of Catholic Church interests, as well as of public education and many other secular matters. Advocates of a strong central government, the Conservatives remained influential during the long period of Liberal hegemony (1895–1944).

Traditionally the vehicle for the political expression of conservative interests in general and of highland landowners' interests in particular, the party enjoyed renewed influence during the 1956–1960 presidency of Camilo Ponce Enríquez. It then began to decline, and was notably weakened by introduction of universal suffrage in 1978. Even before then, however, its progressive wing had split off in 1964 to form Democracia Popular (Popular Democracy—DP). In 1978 and 1984 the Conservatives joined rightist coalitions while running their own congressional slate. They placed ten members in Congress in 1978 but only two in 1984. By the 1990s they had lost these seats, the party was moribund, and former followers had gone over to the Social Christians. Perhaps the party's last political effort was a desperate stab at staying relevant by supporting the socialist candidate, León Roldos, in the 2002 elections.

See alsoEcuador: Since 1830; García Moreno, Gabriel; Ponce Enríquez, Camilo.


George I. Blanksten, Ecuador: Constitutions and Caudillos (1951).

John D. Martz, Ecuador: Conflicting Political Culture and the Quest for Progress (1972).

Additional Bibliography

Demélas, Marie-Danielle. La invención política: Bolivia, Ecuador, Perú en el siglo XIX. Lima, Peru: IFEA, Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos, 2003.

Freidenberg, Flavia, and Manuel Alcántara Sáez. Los dueños del poder: Los partidos políticos en Ecuador (1978–2000). Quito, Ecuador: Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, 2001.

Mejía Acosta, Andrés. Gobernabilidad democrática: Sistema electoral, partidos políticos y pugna de poderes en Ecuador (1978–1998). Quito, Ecuador: Fundación Konrad Adenauer, 2002.

                                             John D. Martz

Conservative Party

views updated May 17 2018

Conservative Party (officially Conservative and Unionist Party) Oldest political party in Britain. Its origins lie in the transformation of the early 19th-century Tory Party into the Conservative Party under Sir Robert Peel in the 1830s. Until the late 19th century, it was mainly a party of landed interests, electorally dependent on the county constituencies. After the Reform Act (1867) and the establishment of a Central Office in 1870, the urban and commercial element in the party increased. In 1886, the split in the Liberal Party over Irish home rule brought Liberal Unionists into the party. It was in power for 31 of the 71 years between 1834 and 1905, and for most of the 1920s and 1930s – either alone or in coalition. It held office in 1951–64 and 1970–74. In 1979, the party swung to the right under the leadership (1975–90) of Margaret Thatcher. With the support of traditional Labour Party voters, it was able (under Thatcher and John Major) to win four consecutive elections. Following electoral defeat in 1997, William Hague became the youngest leader of the party since William Pitt (the Younger). Ian Duncan Smith succeeded Hague after a further electoral defeat in 2001.

Conservative Party

views updated May 17 2018

Conservative Party

Formally known as the Constitutional Party, the Conservative Party was formed in the aftermath of the Chilean defeat of Bolivian forces during the War of the Pacific (1879–1884). The Conservatives and Liberals were the first formal political parties in Bolivia based on ideology rather than personalistic leadership. The Conservatives ruled Bolivia from 1884 to 1899 and were the principal political force during the last two decades of the nineteenth century, which is frequently called the period of the Conservative oligarchy. Led primarily by wealthy silver miners from the southern part of the country with close ties to Chilean capitalists, the Conservatives favored a peace treaty and closer ties with Chile. Their vision of the country's economic development rested upon the building of railroads to foster silver exports, the creation of a dynamic land market (at the expense of Indian communities), and the settlement of Bolivia's eastern frontiers. Under the influence of party leader and chief ideologue Mariano Baptista (president of Bolivia, 1892–1896), the Conservative Party also favored the Catholic Church. Although they differed over religious issues, the Conservatives favored the same economic liberalism as their principal political opponents, the Liberal Party.

See alsoWar of the Pacific .


The best analysis in English of the formation of the Conservative Party is Herbert S. Klein, Parties and Political Change in Bolivia: 1880–1952 (1969), chap. 1. See also Mariano Baptista, Obras completas (1932–1934). On the Conservatives' Indian land policies, see Tristan Platt, Estado boliviano y ayllu andino (1982).

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

                                       Erick D. Langer

Conservative Party

views updated May 17 2018

Conservative Party

Colombia's Conservative Party was founded in 1849, making it one of the oldest functioning political parties in Latin America. For more than 150 years it has struggled for power in Colombia against its traditional adversary, the Liberal Party. During much of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it was characterized by its support for a strong central government, economic protectionism, and close ties with the Catholic Church. The Conservative Party in the early twenty-first century is a mainstream center-right party with multiclass support, but remains characterized in many regions by patron-client relations between party leaders and followers. Since the return of fully competitive elections in 1974, it has also clearly been the minority party. Nonetheless, it has won the presidency twice under Belisario Betancur Cuartas (1982–1986) and Andres Pastrana Arango (1998–2002). In the 2002 and 2006 elections, it chose not to run a presidential candidate, but rather to support Alvaro Uribe Vélez, a Liberal Party dissident running as an independent (and the winner both times), because of his strong conservative positions.

See alsoBetancur Cuartas, Belisario .


Dugas, John C. "The Conservative Party and the Crisis of Political Legitimacy in Colombia." In Conservative Parties, the Right, and Democracy in Latin America, edited by Kevin J. Middlebrook. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Pachón, Mónica. "Partido Conservador y sus dinámicas políticas." In Degradación o cambio: Evolución del sistema politico colombiano, edited by Francisco Gutiérrez Sanín. Bogotá: Grupo Editorial Norma, 2002.

                                       John C. Dugas

Conservative Party

views updated May 17 2018

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party was founded in the 1840s as the pro-government party during the administration of José Antonio Páez. With the establishment of the republic in 1830, the elite forged a consensus concerning the political system to be adopted for Venezuela. Nevertheless, during the next five years disagreements arose, resulting in a split into two opposing political factions competing for power.

The group in power and centered around Páez came to be called the Conservative Party by the rival faction, the Liberals, and this is the name that has been used in Venezuelan historiography. Its composition was diverse, consisting of businessmen, landowners, and intellectuals, but the party's economic policies tended primarily to favor the business sector. The Conservatives remained dominant until 1847, when they were displaced as a result of the political turnabout undertaken by President José Tadeo Monagas. They took part in his overthrow in 1858 and confronted the Liberals during the Federal War (1859–1863). The Conservatives subsequently lost political influence, however, and the period of Liberal dominance began. The Conservative Party never returned to office.

See alsoPáez, José Antonio .


Robert L. Gilmore, Caudillism and Militarism in Venezuela, 1810–1910 (1964).

Catalina Banko, Poder político y conflictos sociales en la República Oligárquica, 1830–1848 (1986).

Elías Pino Iturrieta, El pensamiento conservador venezolano del siglo XIX: Antología (1992).

Additional Bibliography

Pino Iturrieta, Elías. Ideas y mentalidades de Venezuela. Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia, 1998.

                                            InÉs Quintero

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