German Free-minded Party

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German Free-minded Party
Chairman of the Central Committee Franz von Stauffenberg
(1884–1893)
Chairman of the Executive Committee Rudolf Virchow
(1884–1893)
Chairman of the Select Committee Eugen Richter (1884–1890)
Karl Schrader (1890)
Eugen Richter (1890–1893)
Founded March 5, 1884 (1884-03-05)
Dissolved May 7, 1893 (1893-05-07)
Merger of German Progress Party,
Liberal Union
Succeeded by Free-minded People's Party,
Free-minded Union
Newspaper Parlamentarische Korrespondenz
Ideology Liberalism,
Radicalism,
Social progressivism,
Parliamentarism,
Laicism
Political position Centre-left
Politics of Germany
Political parties
Elections

The German Free-minded Party (German: Deutsche Freisinnige Partei, DFP) was a short-lived liberal party in the German Empire, founded as a result of the merger of the German Progress Party and Liberal Union, an 1880 split-off of the National Liberal Party, on 5 March 1884.

Policies[edit]

The economists Ludwig Bamberger and Georg von Siemens, as well as the social liberal politician Eugen Richter were among the prime movers of the fusion, in the view of the coming accession of considered "liberal" Crown Prince Frederick William to the throne (which took place only in 1888). Richter aspired to build up a strong united liberal force in the Reichstag parliament, similar to the British Liberal Party under William Ewart Gladstone. The DFP supported the extension of parliamentarism in the German constitutional monarchy, separation of church and state as well as Jewish emancipation.

Under party chairman Franz August Schenk von Stauffenberg with his deputies Albert Hänel and Rudolf Virchow however, the Free-minded Party received disappointing 17.6% of the votes in the 1884 election, representing a drop of 3.6% from the combined parties' results in the previous 1881 election. The main beneficiaries of this defection were the conservative forces, supporting the protectionist, colonist and anti-socialist policies of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. In the 1887 election, the DFP again lost half of their seats, dropping down to 32 Reichstag mandates. Though urged by his wife Princess Royal Victoria, Crown Prince Frederick William did not dare to meet trouble with Bismarck by openly taking the party's side. His early death in 1888 and the accession of his son William II terminated all liberal hopes.

During the decay, the differences between "Progressives" and center-right liberals became inconsolable. Upon Bismarck's demission in 1890, the party members lost their common adversary. In 1893 the party split in conflict over Chancellor Caprivi's policies into the Free-minded People's Party and the Free-minded Union. A re-union took place in 1910, when both further weakened liberal parties merged with the German People's Party to form the Progressive People's Party.

Notable members[edit]

Members of the Free-minded Party at the Reichstag foyer, 1889

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Tillich, Paul; Translated by Franklin Sherman (1957). The Socialist Decision. Harper & Row. p. 57. 

Preceded by
German Progress Party
liberal German parties
1884–1893
Succeeded by
Free-minded People's Party
Preceded by
Liberal Union
Succeeded by
Free-minded Union