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Conservative liberalism is a variant of liberalism, combining liberal values and policies with conservative stances, or, more simply, representing the right wing of the liberal movement. It is a more positive and less radical variant of classical liberalism. Conservative liberal parties combine liberal policies with more traditional stances on social and ethical issues.
"Instead of following progressive liberalism [i.e. social liberalism] – Robert Kraynak, a professor at Colgate University, writes –, conservative liberals draw upon pre-modern sources, such as classical philosophy (with its ideas of virtue, the common good, and natural rights), Christianity (with its ideas of natural law, the social nature of man, and original sin), and ancient institutions (such as common law, corporate bodies, and social hierarchies). This gives their liberalism a conservative foundation. It means following Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Edmund Burke rather than Locke or Kant; it usually includes a deep sympathy for the politics of the Greek polis, the Roman Republic, and Christian monarchies. But, as realists, conservative liberals acknowledge that classical and medieval politics cannot be restored in the modern world. And, as moralists, they see that the modern experiment in liberty and self-government has the positive effect of enhancing human dignity as well as providing an opening (even in the midst of mass culture) for transcendent longings for eternity. At its practical best, conservative liberalism promotes ordered liberty under God and establishes constitutional safeguards against tyranny. It shows that a regime of liberty based on traditional morality and classical-Christian culture is an achievement we can be proud of, rather than merely defensive about, as trustees of Western civilization. "
In the European context, conservative liberalism should not be confused with liberal conservatism, which is a variant of conservatism combining conservatives views with liberal policies in regards to the economy, social, and ethical issues. The roots of conservative liberalism are to be found at the beginning of the history of liberalism. Until the two world wars, in most European countries the political class was formed by conservative liberals, from Germany to Italy. The events such as World War I occurring after 1917 brought the more radical version of classical liberalism to a more conservative (i.e. more moderate) type of liberalism. Conservative liberal parties have tended to develop in those European countries where there was no strong secular conservative party and where the separation of church and state was less of an issue. In those countries, where the conservative parties were Christian-democratic, this conservative brand of liberalism developed.
In the United States, according to Peter Lawler, a professor at Berry College, neoconservatives might be classified as conservative liberals: "[...] in America today, responsible liberals—who are usually called neoconservatives—see that liberalism depends on human beings who are somewhat child-cen- tered, patriotic, and religious. These responsible liberals praise these non-individualistic human propensities in an effort to shore up liberalism. One of their slogans is 'conservative sociology with liberal politics.' The neoconservatives recognize that the politics of free and rational individuals depends upon a pre-political social world that is far from free and rational as a whole." In the American context, conservative liberalism, as well as liberal conservatism, should not be confused with libertarian conservatism, influenced by right-libertarianism.
Conservative-liberal parties worldwide
Current conservative-liberal parties
- Belgium: Libertarian, Direct, Democratic, People's Party
- Croatia: Croatian Social Liberal Party
- Denmark: Venstre—Liberal Party of Denmark
- Faroe Islands: Union Party, People's Party
- Greenland: Feeling of Community
- Moldova: Liberal Party, Liberal Reformist Party
- Netherlands: People's Party for Freedom and Democracy
- Romania: National Liberal Party
- Thailand: Democratic Party
Parties with conservative-liberal factions
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- Australia: Liberal Party of Australia
- Belarus: United Civic Party of Belarus
- Belgium: Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats, Reformist Movement
- Brazil: Progressive Party
- Canada: British Columbia Liberal Party, Saskatchewan Party
- Czech Republic: Civic Democratic Party, Public Affairs, TOP 09
- Finland: National Coalition Party, Centre Party
- France: The Republicans
- Germany: Free Democratic Party
- Greece: New Democracy
- Italy: Civic Choice
- Lithuania: Liberal Movement
- Luxembourg: Democratic Party
- Northern Cyprus: National Unity Party
- Norway: Progress Party
- Philippines: Liberal Party
- Poland: Civic Platform
- Portugal: Social Democratic Party
- Romania: Alliance of Liberals and Democrats
- Slovenia: Slovenian Democratic Party
- Spain: People's Party, Democratic Convergence of Catalonia, Basque Nationalist Party
- Switzerland: FDP.The Liberals
Historical conservative-liberal parties or parties with conservative-liberal factions
- Austria: Federation of Independents, Freedom Party of Austria
- Belarus: Belarusian Peasant Party
- Brazil: National Democratic Union
- Czech Republic: Civic Democratic Alliance
- France: Union for the New Republic/Union of Democrats for the Republic/Rally for the Republic, Independent Republicans/Republican Party/Liberal Democracy, Union for French Democracy Republican Party, Union for a Popular Movement
- Germany: German People's Party
- Ireland: Progressive Democrats
- Italy: Italian Liberal Party
- Latvia: Latvian Way, Latvia's First Party/Latvian Way
- Lithuania: National Resurrection Party, Liberal and Centre Union
- Netherlands: Liberal State Party, Party of Freedom
- Northern Cyprus: Freedom and Reform Party
- Norway: Frisinnede Venstre
- Poland: League of the Right of the Republic
- Romania: Democratic Liberal Party, Liberal Reformist Party
- Slovakia: Democratic Party
- Switzerland: Free Democratic Party, Liberal Party
- United Kingdom: National Liberal Party
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