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As both "conservatism" and "liberalism" have had different meanings over time and across countries, the term liberal conservatism has been used in quite different senses. It contrasts with classical liberalism and especially aristocratic conservatism, rejecting the principle of equality as something in discordance with human nature, instead emphasizing the idea of natural inequality.
As the conservative ideology in democratic countries embraced typical liberal institutions such as the rule of law, private property, the market economy, and constitutional representative government, the liberal element of liberal conservatism became consensual outside of the socialist camp. This consensus has been so complete in some countries (e.g. the United States) that the term liberal conservatism came to be understood simply as conservatism in popular culture, prompting some conservatives who embraced more strongly classical liberal values to call themselves libertarians. Nevertheless, the liberal conservative tradition in the United States often combines the economic individualism of the classical liberals with a Burkean form of conservatism that emphasizes the natural inequalities between men, the irrationality of human behavior as the basis for the embrace of traditional ethics, the human drive for order and stability, and the rejection of natural rights as the basis for government.
In other countries where liberal conservative movements have more recently entered the political mainstream, such as Italy and Spain, the terms liberal and conservative may be understood as synonymous, while in Latin America, economically liberal conservatism is often labelled under the rubric of neoliberalism both in popular culture and academic discourse. Often this involves stressing free-market economics and belief in individual responsibility together with the defense of civil rights, environmentalism, and support for a limited welfare state. Compared to traditional centre-right politics, such as those proposed by Christian democratic parties, liberal conservatism is less traditionalist and more right-libertarian economically, favouring low taxes and minimal state intervention in the economy.
- 1 Classical conservatism and economic liberalism
- 2 Modern European meaning
- 3 Liberal conservative political parties
- 4 See also
- 5 References
Classical conservatism and economic liberalism
Historically, in the 18th and 19th centuries, conservatism comprised a set of principles based on concern for established tradition, respect for authority, and religious values. This form of classical conservatism is often considered to be exemplified by the writings of Joseph de Maistre and the post-Enlightenment Popes. Contemporaneous liberalism – now called classical liberalism – advocated both political freedom for individuals and a free market in the economic sphere. Ideas of this sort were promulgated by John Locke, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill.
The maxim of liberal conservatism, according to scholar Andrew Vincent, is "economics is prior to politics," while others emphasize elements such as the openness of historical change and a suspicion of tyrannical majorities behind the hailing of individual liberties and traditional virtues by authors such as Tocqueville and Burke and as the basis of current liberal conservatism as seen both in the works of Raymond Aron and Michael Oakeshott and the ideological outlook of right-of-center parties. There is general agreement however, that the original "liberal conservatives" were those who combined conservative social attitudes with a classical-liberal economic outlook, adapting a previous aristocratic understanding of natural inequalities between men to the rule of meritocracy – without, however, directly criticizing privileges of birth as long as individual liberties were guaranteed. Over time, the majority of conservatives in the Western world came to adopt free-market economic ideas as the Industrial Revolution progressed and the aristocracy lost its power, to the extent that such ideas are now generally considered as part of conservatism. Nonetheless, in most countries the term "liberal" is used to describe those with free-market economic views. This is the case, for example, in mainland Europe and Latin America.
A common principle for most liberal conservatives of Burkean extraction is a theory of collective human intellect. Over time, the argument goes, civilizations and groups develop a set of traditions, practices or customs that grow to solve certain problems of human existence. Conservatives argue that people should have a presumption in favour of such institutions, rather than changes to them. Institutions reflect the wisdom of the collective human intellect, whereas changes reflect reasoning or deduction by individuals or groups who are only exposed to contemporary problems. When individuals reason out new institutions from a set of first principles, a process conservatives called 'social engineering,' they will rarely best an institution that has grown from the collective intellect and has stood the test of time. Conservatives believe that institutions based on the collective human intellect, experience, and wisdom of many generations are more reliable. As a result, liberal conservatives often assume that collective traditions, practices, or customs are crucial to a moral life. Institutions are a set of rules guidelines, heuristics—a sort of script—for the leading a moral life.
Modern European meaning
In modern European discourse, "liberal conservatism" usually encompass right-of-centre political outlooks that reject some of the traditionalism associated with Christian democratic or Tory politics. This position is sometimes associated with support for moderate forms of social safety net and of environmentalism. "Liberal conservatism" in this sense is for instance represented by Michael Portillo or the Swedish Fredrik Reinfeldt of the Moderate Party, the Conservative Party of Norway, and the Finnish National Coalition Party. In an interview with journalist Andrew Marr, for BBC Television shortly after taking office as Prime Minister, David Cameron said that he had always described himself as a liberal conservative. In his first speech to the Conservative Party conference in 2006, he defined this as believing in individual freedom and human rights, but being skeptical of "grand schemes to remake the world."
Liberal conservative political parties
Current liberal conservative parties or parties with liberal conservative factions
- Åland: Moderates of Åland
- Albania: Democratic Party of Albania
- Argentina: Union of the Democratic Centre, Republican Proposal
- Armenia: Prosperous Armenia
- Australia: Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal National Party of Queensland, Country Liberal Party
- Bahamas: Free National Movement
- Belarus: United Civic Party of Belarus
- Belgium: New Flemish Alliance
- Bolivia: Social Democrat Movement
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Party of Democratic Progress
- Brazil: Democrats
- Bulgaria: Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, Union of Democratic Forces[unreliable source?]
- Canada: Conservative Party of Canada, British Columbia Liberal Party, Saskatchewan Party, Yukon Party
- Chile: National Renewal
- Cyprus: Democratic Rally
- Czech Republic: Civic Democratic Party, TOP 09
- Denmark: Conservative People's Party
- Dominican Republic: National Progressive Force
- Estonia: Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica
- Faroe Islands: People's Party
- Finland: National Coalition Party
- France: The Republicans
- Georgia: United National Movement, New Rights
- Germany: Christian Democratic Union
- Ghana: New Patriotic Party
- Greece: New Democracy
- Greenland: Feeling of Community, Association of Candidates
- Honduras: National Party of Honduras
- Hungary: Modern Hungary Movement
- Iceland: Independence Party
- Ireland: Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil
- Israel: Likud
- Italy: Forza Italia, New Centre-Right
- Jamaica: Jamaica Labour Party
- Japan: Liberal Democratic Party
- Kosovo: Democratic League of Kosovo
- Latvia: Unity
- Lithuania: Homeland Union
- Malta: Nationalist Party
- Moldova: Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova
- Montenegro: Movement for Changes
- New Zealand: New Zealand National Party
- Nicaragua: Alliance for the Republic
- Norway: Conservative Party
- Philippines: Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino
- Poland: Civic Platform, Poland Together
- Portugal: Social Democratic Party
- Russia: Right Cause
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: New Democratic Party
- Serbia: United Regions of Serbia, Serbian Progressive Party
- Slovakia: Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party, Ordinary People, Most–Híd
- Slovenia: Slovenian Democratic Party
- South Africa: Freedom Front Plus
- Spain: People's Party
- Sri Lanka: United National Party
- Sweden: Moderate Party
- Switzerland: Civic Democratic Party
- Turkey: Justice and Development Party
- Ukraine: All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland"
- United Kingdom: Conservative Party
- United States: Republican Party (see also: Conservatism in the United States and Third Party (United States) § Right-wing)
- Uruguay: National Party
Former liberal conservative parties or parties with liberal conservative factions
- Bolivia: Popular Consensus
- Canada: Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
- Chile: National Party
- France: Rally for the Republic, Union for a Popular Movement
- Gibraltar: Progressive Democratic Party
- Hungary: Hungarian Democratic Forum
- Italy: Forza Italia, The People of Freedom
- Latvia: New Era Party, Civic Union
- Romania: Democratic Party, Democratic Liberal Party
- Russia: Union of Right Forces
- Serbia: G17 Plus, Together for Šumadija
- Johnston, Larry: Politics: An Introduction to the Modern Democratic State. University of Toronto Press, 2007. p.155
- Grigsby, Ellen: Analyzing Politics: An Introduction to Political Science. Cengage Learning, 2011.
- Grigsby, Ellen: Analyzing Politics: An Introduction to Political Science. Cengage Learning, 2011. p.106-112
- Bethell, Leslie: The Cambridge History of Latin America: Latin America since 1930. Cambridge University Press, 1991.
- Vincent, Andrew (2009). "Conservatism". Modern Political Ideologies. Chichester, U.K. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 65–66. ISBN 978-1-4051-5495-6.
- Lakoff, Sandoff: Tocqueville, Burke, and the Origins of Liberal Conservatism. The review of politics; 60, pp 435–464. Notre Dame, 1998. doi:10.1017/S003467050002742X
- Cameron, David. "I am a Liberal Conservative". BBC. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
- "Full text of David Cameron's speech to the Conservative Party conference", BBC, October 2006
- Nicole A. Thomas, Tobias Loetscher, Danielle Clode, Michael E. R. Nicholls (May 2, 2012). "Right-Wing Politicians Prefer the Emotional Left" 7 (5). PLOS ONE. p. 4.
The Liberal Party of Australia has an ideology in line with liberal conservatism and is therefore right of centre.
- Janusz Bugajski (2002). Political Parties of Eastern Europe: A Guide to Politics in the Post-Communist Era. M.E. Sharpe. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-56324-676-0.
- Paul Lewis (4 January 2002). Political Parties in Post-Communist Eastern Europe. Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 978-1-134-63437-8.
- Elisabeth Bakke (2010). Central and East European party systems since 1989. Central and Southeast European Politics since 1989 (Cambridge University Press). pp. 78, 80. ISBN 978-1-139-48750-4.
- José María Magone (1 January 2003). The Politics of Southern Europe: Integration Into the European Union. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-275-97787-0.
- Christina Bergqvist (1 January 1999). Equal Democracies?: Gender and Politics in the Nordic Countries. Nordic Council of Ministers. p. 319. ISBN 978-82-00-12799-4.
- Kerstin Hamann; John Kelly (2010). Parties, Elections, and Policy Reforms in Western Europe: Voting for Social Pacts. Routledge. p. 1980. ISBN 978-1-136-94986-9.
- Amnon Rapoport (1990). Experimental Studies of Interactive Decisions. Kluwer Academic. p. 413. ISBN 0792306856.
Likud is a liberal-conservative party that gains much of its support from the lower and middle classes, and promotes free enterprise, nationalism, and expansionism.
- Dr Vít Hloušek; Dr Lubomír Kopecek (28 March 2013). Origin, Ideology and Transformation of Political Parties: East-Central and Western Europe Compared. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-4094-9977-0.
- André Krouwel (20 November 2012). Party Transformations in European Democracies. SUNY Press. p. 348. ISBN 978-1-4384-4483-3.
- Alfio Cerami (2006). Social Policy in Central and Eastern Europe: The Emergence of a New European Welfare Regime. LIT Verlag Münster. pp. 29–. ISBN 978-3-8258-9699-7.
- Inmaculada Egido (2005). Transforming Education: The Spanish Experience. Nova Publishers. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-59454-208-4.
- Peter Viggo Jakobsen (2006). Nordic Approaches to Peace Operations: A New Model in the Making?. Taylor & Francis. pp. 184–. ISBN 978-0-415-38360-8.
- Hariz Halilovich (15 January 2013). Places of Pain: Forced Displacement, Popular Memory and Trans-local Identities in Bosnian War-torn Communities. Berghahn Books. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-85745-777-6.
- Ruth Wodak; John E. Richardson (2013). Analysing Fascist Discourse: European Fascism in Talk and Text. Routledge. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-415-89919-2.
- Donatella M. Viola (2015). "Italy". In Donatella M. Viola. Routledge Handbook of European Elections. Routledge. p. 117. ISBN 978-1-317-50363-7.
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