Conservative party (Canada)
Conservative Party (Britain)
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 party’s 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 first—often labeled “Tory” Conservatism— has roots in the ideas of the British philosopher-politician Edmund Burke (1729–1797). 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 Britain’s social fabric. For Burke, the maintenance of hierarchy, continuity, and an interlocking system of mutual social obligations were the ends of good government.
Burke’s ideas were given renewed force in the late nineteenth century by Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881). 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 Disraeli’s “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 Party’s 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 Gaitskell—to 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, Thatcher’s public standing improved markedly in 1982 as a result of Britain’s 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 party’s 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, Blair’s “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 marginally—to 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 Britain’s “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 leaders—William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard, and David Cameron—since 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. Politico’s Guide to the History of British Political Parties. London: Politico’s Publishing.
Clarke, Harold D., David Sanders, Marianne C. Stewart, and Paul Whiteley. 2004. Political Choice in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University 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
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.
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 (British political party)
Conservative party, British political party, formally the Conservative and Unionist party and a continuation of the historic Tory party.
The Rise of the Conservative Party
The name "conservative" was used by George Canning as early as 1824 and was first popularized by John Wilson Croker in the Quarterly Review in 1830. The Reform Bill of 1832 (see Reform Acts), which created some 500,000 middle-class voters, marked the advent of the new party. The 19th-century Conservatives, like their Tory predecessors, were defenders of the established Church of England. They supported aristocratic government and a narrow franchise. They attempted, by passing factory acts and moderating the poor law of 1834, to ease hardships stemming from the Industrial Revolution, but they had no comprehensive plan to cope with its widespread dislocations. They were stronger in rural than in urban areas and were defenders of agricultural interests.
Sir Robert Peel, in his Tamworth Manifesto (1834) and after, attempted to make the party attractive to the new business classes and formed the first Conservative government. But his repeal (1846) of the corn laws brought about an angry reaction from protectionist agricultural interests, led by Lord George Bentinck and Benjamin Disraeli, and resulted in a party split. The "Peelites" eventually merged with the Liberal party, and the Conservatives were hampered by the loss to the Liberals of able young leaders like William Gladstone.
From Disraeli to World War I
In the heyday (1846–73) of free trade and anti-imperial sentiment, the Conservatives were out of office, except for three brief ministries, until the Disraeli government of 1874–80. Disraeli's strong imperialism and his wooing of a broadened electorate with plans for reform, a program known as "Tory democracy," was attractive in a period of depression and increasing imperial competition. After the Reform Bill of 1884 campaign, organizations like the Primrose League and the development of the caucus gave the Conservatives greater solidarity and cohesion. They gained additional strength as a result of the secession (1886) from the Liberal party of the Liberal Unionists, who, like the Conservatives, opposed Home Rule for Ireland. (In 1912 the Liberal Unionists formally merged with the Conservative party.)
The party was in office under the 3d marquess of Salisbury (1885–86; 1886–92; 1895–1902) and Arthur Balfour (1902–5). Efforts by Lord Randolph Churchill to implement further domestic reforms in the tradition of Tory democracy were unsuccessful, but the popular imperialist emphasis remained. In this period the party was gradually drawing closer to middle-class business interests, but the insistence of Joseph Chamberlain on a program of tariff reform, including imperial preference, split the party, which lost (1906) to the Liberals. Conservatives were next in office as part of the coalition government during World War I.
The Dominant Party
In 1922 the Conservatives refused to continue the coalition formed during the war, and under Andrew Bonar Law emerged victorious at the polls. With the Liberals in decline and the Labour party still developing, the Conservatives entered a period of almost continuous hegemony. They held office from 1922 to 1929, interrupted only by a brief Labour ministry in 1924. They were the dominant power in the National governments of Ramsay MacDonald (1931–35), Stanley Baldwin (1935–37), and Neville Chamberlain (1937–40). Under the long leadership of Baldwin (1922–37), the party spoke for the interests of business, the professional and white-collar classes, and farmers. They lost prestige with Chamberlin's appeasement policy toward Nazi Germany, but the country rallied to his successor, Sir Winston Churchill.
Triumph in war preceded electoral defeat (1945), owing to popular demand for urgently needed social reform, which the Conservatives would not carry through. Returning to office (1951) under Churchill, the Conservatives displayed a sense of pragmatic modernity in accepting many of the social reforms instituted by the Labour government. The party's majority in the House of Commons was increased in 1955, and Sir Anthony Eden became (1955) prime minister upon Churchill's retirement. Popularity diminished temporarily during the Suez Canal crisis, but favorable economic conditions and the political skill of Harold Macmillan, who headed the government after Eden's resignation (1957), resulted in a solid electoral victory in 1959. Under the leadership of Sir Alec Douglas-Home, who succeeded Macmillan (1963), the party lost narrowly to the Labour party in 1964. After that defeat, Lord Home instituted a formal balloting system for choosing future party leaders.
Heath, Thatcher, and Major
In 1965, Edward Heath became the first leader chosen through election. Heath led a Conservative government from 1970 to 1974 that faced the problems of a stagnant economy and a declining international political position. In response, the party moved to curb the power of trade unions and encouraged more economic self-reliance. In foreign affairs, it continued the policy of restricting Great Britain's Commonwealth and international roles while expanding ties with Western Europe, as demonstrated by Britain's entry (1973) into the European Community (now the European Union [EU]).
In 1974, the Conservatives lost two elections and Heath was replaced as party leader by Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to lead the party. Thatcher was prime minister from 1979 to 1990, the longest uninterrupted government of the 20th cent. Her government dismantled much of Britain's postwar welfare state, and the party became identified with free-market economic policies. In 1990, Thatcher's leadership was challenged by members of the party; in the ensuing elections, she was succeeded by John Major. Under his leadership, the Conservatives won the 1992 general election. The party received a resounding defeat in the 1997 elections, and Major was replaced as party leader by William Hague. In 2001 the party, which had come to be seen as anti–European Union, was again trounced at the polls by Labour, leading Hague to resign. Iain Duncan Smith was chosen to succeed Hague but served only two years as party leader before he was replaced by Michael Howard. The party made gains in the 2005 elections, but Labour's majority, though reduced, remained secure. Following the elections Howard announced his resignation, and David Cameron was chosen to succeed him. Cameron moved the party more toward the center, and in 2010 the Conservatives won a plurality. They formed a coalition (2010–15) with the Liberal Democrats, and Cameron became prime minister. Cameron remained in office after the party won a slim majority in 2015.
See M. Pugh, The Tories and the People (1985); F. O'Gorman, British Conservatism (1986); R. Shepherd, The Power Brokers (1991).
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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
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.
George I. Blanksten, Ecuador: Constitutions and Caudillos (1951).
John D. Martz, Ecuador: Conflicting Political Culture and the Quest for Progress (1972).
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 (Canadian political party)
Conservative party, in Canada. 1 Former Canadian political party that merged with the Progressive party to form the Progressive Conservative party. 2 Officially the Conservative party of Canada, political party formed in 2003 by the merger of the Progressive Conservative party (PC) and the Canadian Alliance (CA). In 1993 the Progressive Conservatives, who had held a parliamentary majority, were savaged at the polls as many voters in W Canada deserted the PC for the young Reform party (the predecessor of the CA). The PC failed to recover from the losses, and in 2003 agreed to unite with the larger CA against the Liberal party, which had secured three successive victories (1993, 1997, 2000) facing a divided conservative opposition. However, a number of prominent PC members, including former party leader Joe Clark, did not support the union. Former CA leader Stephen Harper was elected Conservative party leader. In the 2004 elections the party's social conservatism failed to resonate with enough voters to force the Liberals from power, despite voter unhappiness with the Liberals. By the 2006 polls, however, the Liberals had been further hurt by scandal, and the Conservatives secured a plurality of the seats in parliament. Their plurality increased after the 2008 elections, and they won a majority in 2011.
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).
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
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