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Political colours are colours used to represent a political party, either officially or unofficially. Parties in different countries with similar ideologies tend to use similar colours. For example, the colour red symbolises left-wing ideologies (c.f. Red Flag, Red Army, Red Scare). However, the political associations of a given colour vary from country to country; for example, red is also the colour associated with the right-wing Republican Party in the United States.
- Anti-clerical parties in the late 19th and early 20th centuries sometimes used the colour black in reference to the officials of the Catholic Church, because the cassock is usually black.
- In Germany and Austria, black is the colour historically associated with Christian-democratic parties.
- In Italy, black is the colour of fascism, because it was the official colour of the National Fascist Party.
- In Greece, black is the color of the Golden Dawn, a self-described social nationalist, far-right Greek political party.
- In the Islamic world, black flags (often with a white shahadah) are sometimes used by Islamist groups. Black was the colour of the Abbasid caliphate.
- In Russia, black represented monarchism and nationalist movements such as the Black Hundreds before their defeat at the hands of the communists.
- The field of the flag of the United Nations is light blue, chosen to represent peace and hope. It has given rise to the term bluewashing.
- In the United States, since the year 2000, the mass media have associated blue with the Democratic Party, even though the Democratic Party is a left-leaning party. In 2010, the party unveiled a blue official logo. (See Red states and blue states.)
- In South Africa, blue is usually associated with liberal and left-leaning political parties, the most popular being the Democratic Alliance. The colour blue was also used by the United Party, from which the Progressive Party (the most senior ancestor of the Democratic Alliance) split in 1959.
- In the Canadian province of Québec, blue is associated with nationalist and separatist movements (in reference to the province's prominently blue flag)
- In India, blue is associated with the Dalit movement.
- Light blue is used to represent Turkic peoples and Turkic heritage.
Buff was the colour of the Whig faction in British politics from the early 18th century until the middle of the 19th century. As such it is sometimes used to represent the current political left (in opposition to blue, which represented the Tories and then the Conservatives and political right.)
- Grey is sometimes used by parties that represent the interests of pensioners and senior citizens, such as "The Greys" in Germany. It can also be used to refer to reactionary movements, due to its association with the Confederate States of America.
- Grey is often used to represent Independent politicians.
- Green is the colour for green politics and environmentalist movements worldwide.
- Sea green was used as a symbol by members of the Levellers in 17th century Britain; for this reason, it is occasionally used to represent radical liberalism.
- Irish Nationalist and Irish Republican movements have used the colour green.
- Green has sometimes also been linked to agrarian movements, such as the Populist Party in the US in the 1890s, and the current-day Nordic Agrarian parties, as well as the National Party of Australia, a conservative party traditionally representing regional and agricultural interests.
- Green, considered the holy colour of Islam, is also used by some Islamists, such as Hamas.
- Fern Green is occasionally used by political organisations and groups who advocate the legalisation of Medicinal use of Marijuana.
- In Greece, green is the colour of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, a social democratic party. Likewise it is used by the Greek Cypriot social democrats, EDEK.
- In Britain of the 1930s, the National Labour Organisation used green.
- In South Africa, green often represents the national liberation movement against the apartheid government. It is used by several South African political parties including the African National Congress, United Christian Democratic Party, African People's Convention, Pan Africanist Congress of Azania and Economic Freedom Fighters.
Orange is the traditional colour of the Christian democrats, and it can also represent various kinds of populist parties. Such is the case in Austria, Germany, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Finland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Bolivia.
- In Canada, orange is the colour of the New Democratic Party (NDP), a social-democratic party. Most social-democratic parties around the world use red or pink, but in Canada the colour red was already long associated with the Liberals when the NDP was founded.
- In Czech Republic, the centre-left Czech Social Democratic Party changed its official colour in 2006 from red to orange.
- In Ukraine, orange was the colour of liberal groups that participated in the "Orange Revolution". This gave the colour orange a certain association with radical anti-authoritarian politics in some countries, and it has been used as such by groups and organisations in the Middle East – for example in Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Bahrain and Israel.
- In Colombia orange is unofficially associated with Social Party of National Unity, a liberal conservative Uribist party.
- In Northern Ireland, orange is associated with Unionism and the Orange Order.
- In the United Kingdom, orange was the colour of the historical Liberal Party. The contemporary successors to the Liberals - the Liberal Democrats - also use orange.
- In Israel, orange is linked to anti-disengagement rallies and other right wing and pro-settlement activity.
- In New Zealand, orange cannot be used by any political party; it is exclusively used by the Electoral Commission.
- In South Africa, orange is often associated with conservative Afrikaner political movements. Orange was the official colour of the National Party which was the country's governing party from 1948 to 1994; additionally its' successor, the New National Party used the colour orange. It is the used by the Christian democratic and Afrikaner nationalist party Freedom Front Plus. Orange red is the official colour of the Independent Democrats, a Social democratic political party in the Northern and Western Cape Provinces.
- Orange is often used to represent the mutualist current in anarchist politics, as a middle ground between pro-market currents such as anarcho-capitalism (associated with the colour yellow of liberalism) and anti-market currents such as anarcho-syndicalism and anarcho-communism (associated with the colour red of communism and socialism).
- Pink is sometimes used by Social Democrats, such as in France and Portugal. The more traditional colour of social democracy is red (because social democracy is descended from the democratic socialist movement), but some countries have large social-democratic parties alongside large socialist or communist parties, so that it would be confusing for them all to use red. In such cases, social democrats are usually the ones who give up red in favour of a different colour. Pink is often chosen because it is seen as a softer, less aggressive version of red, in the same way that social democracy is more centrist and less militant than socialism.
- In some European nations and the United States, pink is associated with homosexuality and the pink flag is used as a symbol in support of civil rights for LGBT people. This goes back to the Nazi German policy of assigning pink triangles to homosexual prisoners.
Purple is the most prominent colour that is not traditionally connected to any major ideology. As such, it is sometimes used to represent a mix of different ideologies, or new protest movements that are critical of all previously-existing parties.
- In Europe, purple has been used to represent the 'Purple governments' of Belgium and the Netherlands, formed by an alliance of 'red' social-democratic and 'blue' liberal parties.
- Purple is also the colour of the original Swedish Pirate Party and several of its international sister parties.
- In Italy, purple has been adopted by anti-Silvio Berlusconi protesters (see Purple people) as an alternative from other colours and political parties.
- In the United Kingdom purple is associated with Euroscepticism, being the official colours of the UK Independence Party (along with yellow) and Veritas.
- Purple is also unofficially used in the United States to denote a "swing state" (i.e., one contested frequently between the Republican Party, whose unofficial colour is red, and the Democratic Party, whose unofficial colour is blue.) Purple is also used by centrists to represent a combination of beliefs belonging to the Republicans (red) and the Democrats (blue) (see above). It has also been used to reference Purple America, a term used in contrast to "blue" or "red", noting the electoral differences nationwide are observed more on discrepancies instead of unity. (See Red states and blue states.)
Red is traditionally associated with socialism and communism. The oldest symbol of socialism (and, by extension, communism) is the Red Flag, which dates back to the French Revolution in the 18th century and the revolutions of 1848. The colour red was chosen to represent the blood of the workers who died in the struggle against capitalism. All major socialist and communist alliances and organisations – including the First, Second, and Third Internationals – used red as their official colour. The association between the colour red and communism is particularly strong. Communists use red much more often and more extensively than other ideologies use their respective traditional colours.
- In Europe and Latin America, red is also associated with parties of social democracy, and often their allies within the labour movement. Sometimes these parties use pink instead, as a "moderate" colour instead of the more "radical" red.
- In the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, red is also the colour of the labour movement and the Labour Parties in those countries.
- In Canada, red has always been associated with the Liberal Party of Canada, because one of its predecessors was the Parti rouge (French for "Red Party").
- In the United States, since the year 2000, the mass media have associated red with the Republican Party, despite the fact that the Republican Party is a conservative-leaning party. Since at least 2010, the party has adopted an all-red logo. (See Red states and blue states.)
In India, saffron is traditionally associated with Hinduism, Hindutva and the Hindu nationalist movement. Saffron was chosen because in Hindu Sanatana Dharma, the deep saffron colour is associated with sacrifice, religious abstinence, quest for light and salvation. Saffron or "Bhagwa" is the most sacred colour for the Hindus and is often worn by Sanyasis who have left their home in search of the ultimate truth.
- Historically, it was associated with support for absolute monarchy, starting with the supporters of the Bourbon dynasty of France, because it was the dynasty's colour. Later it was used by the Czarist Whites who fought against the communist "Reds" in the Russian Civil War, because the Russian "Whites" had similar goals to the French "Whites" of a century earlier.
- Because of its use by anti-communist forces in Russia, the colour white came to be associated in the 20th century with many different anti-communist and counter-revolutionary groups, even those that did not support absolute monarchy (for example, the Finnish "Whites" who fought against the socialist "Reds" in the civil war following the independence of Finland). In some revolutions, red is used to represent the revolutionaries and white is used to represent the supporters of the old order, regardless of the ideologies or goals of the two sides.
- In Italy a red cross on a white shield (scudo crociato) is the emblem of Catholic parties, from the historical Christian Democracy party.
- In Afghanistan, the Taliban reversed the Islamist schema, using black shahada on a white background (symbol of purity).
- In Singapore, white is the colour associated with the People's Action Party, the party that has been in power, and dominating the Parliament, since the country's independence.
Yellow is the colour most commonly associated with liberalism. It is the official colour of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, as well as being the colour of liberal parties in Germany, Romania, Estonia and the United Kingdom (the Liberal Democrats). Yellow is also often used to represent libertarianism.
- Yellow is also associated with Judaism and the Jewish people, although this may be seen negatively (see also Yellow badge) and since 1945, the blue Star of David is preferred.
- In Asia, yellow may be used to represent monarchies. For instance, in Thailand, yellow represents King Bhumibol. It was also the colour of the pro-monarchy Panchayat system in the Kingdom of Nepal.
Notable national political colour schemes include:
- In Belgium, the liberal parties (Open VLD and MR) use blue and the Christian Democrats (CD&V and cdH) use orange. The colour of the Flemish nationalist party New-Flemish Alliance (N-VA) is yellow.
- In Canada, in federal-level politics, the official colour for the Conservative Party of Canada is blue, for the social-democratic New Democratic Party it is orange, and the Liberal Party of Canada uses red. The Bloc Québécois uses a sky blue, derived from the flag of Quebec.
- In France, the centre-left Socialist Party uses pink, while the more left-wing Left Front, which includes the Communist Party, uses red. Minor far-left parties are usually represented by dark red. The Greens, of course, use green. The centrist Democratic Movement uses orange, to signify its independence from both left and right. The main party of the right, the Union for a Popular Movement, uses blue, while its more centrist, moderate ally the Union of Democrats and Independents uses a lighter blue. The far-right National Front uses navy blue (bleu marine), a play on the name of the party's leader.
- In Germany, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) uses orange (officially) and its Bavarian counterpart, the Christian Social Union, uses light blue.
- In Mexico, the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) uses yellow. The right-wing National Action Party (PAN) uses blue and white, the colours of the Virgin of Guadalupe, symbol of Mexican Catholicism.
- In Moldova, the conservative Liberal Democratic Party uses green, the social-democratic Democratic Party of Moldova uses dark blue, and the Liberal Party uses pale blue.
- In the Netherlands, four parties use green: the social-liberal Democrats 66 use light green and both the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and animal-rights party Party for the Animals (PvdD) use a darker green. GreenLeft uses a combination of green and red, although green is used more often. Blue is used by the conservative-liberal VVD.
- In Northern Ireland, the Unionist parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly are called the "orange block" and the Nationalist parties are the "green block".
- In Portugal, the centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) use orange, and the centre-left Socialist Party (PS) use pink.
- In South Korea, the ruling conservative party Saenuri Party (New Frontier Party) uses red as its colour, even though red is considered a leftist colour in Korea. In this case it's a kind of political strategy, to emphasise change and evolution.
- In Taiwan, the leading groups of parties are the Pan-Blue Coalition, which leans more towards Chinese nationalism, and the Pan-Green Coalition, which leans more towards Taiwanese independence. The New Party uses yellow as its party colour even though its policies are conservative; the Democratic Progressive Party uses green even though its international alignment is with the Liberal International and not the Green parties.
- In the United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland), the Conservative Party uses blue, the social-democratic Labour Party uses red, and the Liberal Democrats use yellow and orange. The right-wing and eurosceptic UK Independence Party has chosen to use the non-aligned colour purple, along with yellow (typically associated with liberalism). The Populist Alliance has recently adopted Olive as its colour, having originally used purple, due to its history as an offshoot of the UK Independence Party.
- Far-right British nationalist parties such as the British National Party are noted for using the colours of the Union Jack, as did the centrist Social Democratic Party (SDP). The nationalist Plaid Cymru and Scottish National Party both use gold.
- Some of the established political parties use or have used different colour variations in certain localities. The traditional colour of the Penrith and the Border Conservatives was yellow, rather than dark blue. The traditional colour of the Warwickshire Liberals was green, rather than orange.
- In the United States the two major political parties use the national colours – red, white, and blue. Historically, the only common situation in which it has been necessary to assign a single colour to a party has been in the production of political maps in graphical displays of election results. In such cases, there had been no consistent association of particular parties with particular colours. In the weeks following the 2000 election, however, there arose the terminology of red states and blue states, in which the conservative Republican Party was associated with red and the liberal Democratic Party with blue. Political observers latched on to this association, which resulted from the use of red for Republican victories and blue for Democratic victories on the display map of a television network. In 2004, the association was mostly kept. As of November 2012, maps for presidential elections produced by the U.S. government also use blue for Democrats and red for Republicans. In September 2010, the Democratic Party officially adopted an all-blue logo. Around the same time, the official Republican website began using a red logo.
- This association has potential to confuse foreign observers in that, as described above, red is traditionally a left-wing colour, while blue is typically associated with right-wing politics.
- There is some historical use of blue for Democrats and red for Republicans: in the late 19th century and early 20th century, Texas county election boards used colour-coding to help Spanish speakers and illiterates identify the parties, however, this system was not applied consistently in Texas and was not picked up on a national level; for instance, in 1888, Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison used maps that coded blue for the Republicans, the colour Harrison perceived to represent the Union and "Lincoln's Party" and red for the Democrats.
- Political uniform
- List of political party symbols
- NATO Military Symbols for Land Based Systems#Affiliation
- "Change That Matters". Democrats.org. 14 September 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
- Blue is the colour of peace
- "Strong Showing for Santos in Colombia's First round". As-coa.org. 31 May 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
- Electoral Commission (17 December 2007). "The Family Party logo declined". Retrieved 17 October 2011.
- Véronique Bénéï (2005). Manufacturing Citizenship: education and nationalism in Europe, South Asia and China. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-36488-4.
- "Historic Election Results". The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
- "Handbook of Texas Online – REDS AND BLUES". Tshaonline.org. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
- Rowe, Tara A. (13 January 2005). "The Political Game: The Red and Blue State Phenomenon". Politicalgame.blogspot.com. Retrieved 17 October 2011.