Liberalism in Germany

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This article aims to give an historical overview of liberalism in Germany. The liberal parties dealt with in the timeline below are, largely, those which received sufficient support at one time or another to have been represented in parliament. Not all parties so included, however, necessarily labeled themselves "liberal". The sign ⇒ denotes another party in that scheme.

Background[edit]

The early high points of liberalism in Germany were the Hambacher Fest (1832) and the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states. In the National Assembly in the Frankfurt Paulskirche (1848/1849), the bourgeois liberal factions Casino and Württemberger Hof (the latter led by Heinrich von Gagern) were the majority. They favored a constitutional monarchy, popular sovereignty, and parliamentary rule. Organized liberalism developed in the 1860s, combining the previous liberal and democratic currents. Between 1867 and 1933 liberalism was divided into progressive liberal and national liberal factions. Since 1945 only one liberal party has been significant in politics at the national level: The Free Democratic Party (Freie Demokratische Partei, member LI), ELDR.

History[edit]

From German Progress Party to German State Party[edit]

  • 1861: Liberals united in the German Progress Party (Deutsche Fortschrittspartei)
  • 1867: The moderate faction seceded as the ⇒ National Liberal Party
  • 1868: A radical South German faction seceded as the ⇒ Democratic People's Party
  • 1884: The party merged with the ⇒ Liberal Union into the German Freeminded Party (Deutsche Freisinnige Partei)
  • 1893: The party split in the Freeminded People's Party (Freisinnige Volkspartei) and the ⇒ Freeminded Union (Freisinnige Vereinigung)
  • 1910: The FVP merged with the ⇒ Freeminded Union and the ⇒ German People's Party into the Progressive People's Party (Fortschrittliche Volkspartei)
  • 1918: The party is reorganised into the German Democratic Party (Deutsche Demokratische Partei), incorporating parts of the ⇒ National Liberal Party
  • 1930: The DDP in an attempt to survive reorganised itself into the German State Party (Deutsche Staatspartei)
  • 1933: The party is forced to dissolve itself

German People's Party (1868)[edit]

  • 1868: A radical faction of the ⇒ German Progress Party formed the German People's Party (Deutsche Volkspartei)
  • 1910: The DVP merged into the ⇒ Progressive People's Party

National Liberal Party / German People's Party (1918)[edit]

National Liberals

  • 1867: A right-wing faction of the ⇒ German Progress Party formed the National Liberal Party (Nationalliberale Partei)
  • 1871: A conservative faction of NLP formed the Imperial Liberal Party (Liberale Reichspartei)
  • 1880: A left-wing faction seceded as the ⇒ Liberal Union
  • 1918: The NLP is reorganised into the German People's Party (Deutsche Volkspartei), part of the party joined the German Democratic Party
  • 1933: The party is dissolved

Liberal Union[edit]

  • 1880: A left-wing faction of the ⇒ National Liberal Party formed the Liberal Union (Liberale Vereinigung)
  • 1884: The party merged with the ⇒ German Progress Party into the ⇒ German Freeminded Party

Freeminded Union[edit]

  • 1893: The ⇒ German Freeminded Party split into the Freeminded Union (Freisinnige Vereinigung) and the ⇒ Freeminded People's Party
  • 1903: The ⇒ National Social Union joined the Freeminded Union
  • 1908: A left-wing faction seceded as the ⇒ Democratic Union
  • 1910: The party merged into the ⇒ Progressive People's Party

National Social Union[edit]

  • 1896: The National Social Union (Nationalsozialer Verein) is formed
  • 1903: The party is dissolved and members joined the ⇒ Freeminded Union

Democratic Union[edit]

  • 1908: A left-wing faction of the ⇒ Freeminded Union formed the Democratic Union (Demokratische Vereinigung)
  • 1918: The remnants of the Union joined the German Democratic Party

From Liberal Democratic Party of Germany to Alliance of Free Democrats (GDR)[edit]

Free Democratic Party[edit]

  • 1945-1946: Liberals in West Germany re-organised themselves in regional parties
  • 1948: The regional liberal parties merged into the Free Democratic Party (Freie Demokratische Partei)
  • 1956: A conservative faction seceded and formed the Free People's Party (Germany) (Freie Volkspartei)
  • 1982: A left-wing faction seceded as the ⇒ Liberal Democrats
  • 1990: The FDP incorporated the ⇒ Alliance of Free Democrats

Liberal Democrats[edit]

  • 1982: A left-wing faction of the ⇒ Free Democratic Party formed the present-day Liberal Democrats (Liberale Demokraten), without success

New Liberals[edit]

  • 2014: A left-wing faction of the ⇒ Free Democratic Party formed the present-day New Liberals (Neue Liberale), will contest in Hamburg state election 2015

Liberal leaders[edit]

Liberal thinkers[edit]

In the Contributions to liberal theory the following German thinkers are included:

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Åberg, Martin. Swedish and German Liberalism: From Factions to Parties 1860-1920 (2011)
  • Jarausch, Konrad, et al. eds. In search of a liberal Germany: studies in the history of German liberalism from 1789 to the present (1990), essays by scholars
  • Langewiesche, Dieter. Liberalism in Germany (2000)
  • Mork, Gordon R. "Bismarck and the 'Capitulation' of German Liberalism," Journal of Modern History Vol. 43, No. 1 (March 1971), pp. 59–75 in JSTOR