Political colour

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Hogarth's The Polling, depicting a 1754 election to the British parliament, includes a blue flag representing the Tories and a buff flag representing the Whigs

Political colours are colours used to represent a political party, either officially or unofficially. Parties in different countries with similar ideologies sometimes use similar colours. For example, the colour red symbolises left-wing ideologies in many countries (see the red flag, Red Army and Red Scare) while the colour orange symbolizes Christian democratic political ideology.[1] However, the political associations of a given colour vary from country to country: red is also the colour associated with the conservative Republican Party in the United States. Politicians making public appearances will often identify themselves by wearing rosettes, flowers or ties in the colour of their political party.



Blue is usually associated with centre-right or conservative parties, originating from its use by the Tory party (the predecessor of the Conservative Party) in the United Kingdom.[3]


  • Brown has been associated with Nazism because the Sturmabteilung (SA) were called "brownshirts". In Europe and elsewhere, the colour brown is sometimes used to refer to fascists in general.[7]
  • The Marijuana Party of Canada uses the colour brown.
  • Brown is sometimes used to describe the opposite of green parties, that is to describe parties that care little about pollution.[8]


  • 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).



Green is the colour for both environmentalist[9] and Islamic political parties and movements (see green in Islam).


Orange is the traditional colour of the Christian democratic political ideology and most Christian democratic political parties, which are based on Catholic social teaching and/or neo-Calvinist theology. Christian democratic political parties came to prominence in Europe and the Americas after World War II.[10][1]

Orange since 1989 has represented Post-Communist Democratic Revolutions in Eastern Europe.[11] It less frequently represents various kinds of populist parties. Such is the case in Austria, Germany, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Finland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Turkey.


  • Pink is sometimes used by social democratic parties, 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 favor 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 Brazil, Pink is sometimes used by Democratic Labour Party, a centre-left to left-wing nationalist political party member of socialist international.
  • Some European liberal parties use pink or magenta as their party colour. Examples include the Danish Social Liberal Party and NEOS – The New Austria.
  • 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 appending pink triangles to the clothing of homosexual prisoners.
  • Pink is the colour of the feminist party Feminist Initiative in Sweden.


Although purple has some older associations with monarchism, it is the most prominent colour that is not traditionally connected to any major contemporary 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.

  • Purple is often associated with feminism and when combined with black, is often used to represent anarcha-feminism.
  • In Brazil, purple is the color of some progressive liberal movements such as Rede Sustentabilidade and Livres. This color is chosen because those movements consider themselves to be mixing the best ideas of the left (associated with red) and the right (associated with blue).
  • 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.
  • In Italy, purple has been adopted by anti-Silvio Berlusconi protesters (see Purple People) as an alternative from other colours and political parties.
  • In Ireland, purple is the colour of the Social Democrats which supports a Nordic model of social democracy.
  • In Mexico, purple is the colour of the Humanist Party.
  • In Poland, purple is the colour of Partia Razem, a new left-wing social-democratic political party formed in 2015.
  • In Romania, purple was used by the populist and eurosceptic People's Party – Dan Diaconescu, active between 2011–2015.
  • In Spain, purple is the colour of Podemos, a new left-wing party that emerged from the 15-M Movement protests.
  • Purple is the colour of the Swedish Pirate Party and Icelandic Pirate Party, as well as several international Pirate parties share the colour along with black.
  • In the United Kingdom, purple is associated with Euroscepticism, being the official colours of the UK Independence Party (along with yellow) and the minor party Veritas.
  • In the United States, purple is the official colour of the Veterans Party of America which is a centrist constitutional based party with a mix of the dominant two parties' colours, as well as the colour of the Purple Heart Medal.
  • 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). 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).
  • In Uruguay, purple is the colour of the social democratic Independent Party.
  • In Venezuela, purple is use by socialist People's Electoral Movement.


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. Before this nascence, the colour red was generally associated with monarchy or the Church due to the symbolism and association of Christ's blood. 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, or "pink" used to describe the more moderate faction or membership within a left-wing party.
  • Red is also the traditional colour of liberal parties in Latin America and was the colour use, for example, in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Uruguay for liberal parties. However, these parties follow social liberalism more than classic liberalism, thus seating in the centre-left.
  • In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, red is also the colour of the labour movement and the Labour (spelled Labor in Australia) parties in those countries. The use of red as a symbol is referenced in the British Labour Party's anthem, The Red Flag.[15]
    • In the heyday of the British Empire before 1960, maps, globes, and atlases typically used red or pink to designate the British Empire or its Commonwealth.[16] As soon as a colony became independent, it needed its own distinctive color and the practice died out.
  • In Brazil, red is so strongly associated with the left-wing populist Workers' Party, the Communist Party of Brazil, the Brazilian Communist Party and other far-left parties, that different left-wing movements choose not to use red as a main color in order to give themselves a distinct identity from the Workers' Party and the communists. The PSOL and the Brazilian Socialist Party invert the traditional color schemes of left-wing political parties and use red as a secondary color with yellow being their primary color; the Socialists also use white as a main color. Along with pink, the Democratic Labour Party uses blue and white as main colors with red as a secondary color. In the context of left-wing politics, red is the main color of the Popular Socialist Party, a third way social democratic party which descends from the first incarnation of the Brazilian Communist Party.
  • Also in Brazil, red combined with black and white was formerly associated with Brazilian nationalism. The first incarnation of the agrarianist-centrist Social Democratic Party and both incarnations of the Brazilian Labour Party (the first a social democratic party and the current a populist liberal party), use this color scheme. Red, Black and White are associated with the three races which form the ethnic composition of Brazil: the Amerindians (Red), the Afro-Brazilians (Black) and White Brazilians.
  • Belize's main conservative party (United Democratic Party) is represented by the red colour.
  • 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").
  • Japan's buddhist party Komeito has a red sun as flag.
  • The Colorado Party of Paraguay, a right-wing conservative party, uses red while its main rival the liberal Partido Liberal Radical uses blue, contrary to the rest of Latin America.
  • The Liberty Korea Party, which is the dominant conservative party in South Korea, uses red as their official colour. Before 2012, the conservative parties used blue as their official colour.
  • In Thailand, the Red Shirt movement derives its populist base from amongst the working class and rural communities, which oppose the established power elite in Bangkok.
  • A key exception to the convention of red to mean socialism is the United States. See red states and blue states[17] Since about the year 2000, the mass media have associated red with the Republican Party, despite the fact that the Republican Party is a conservative party (see red states and blue states) The use is probably entrenched as many political organisations (for example the website RedState) now use the term.


In India, saffron is traditionally associated with Hinduism, Hindutva and the Hindu nationalist movement.[18] 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.


White is today mainly linked to pacifism[citation needed] (as in the surrender flag) and in politics of the United Kingdom to independent politicians such as Martin Bell.

  • 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 Whites who fought against the communist "Reds" in the Russian Civil War, because some of the Russian "Whites" had similar goals to the French "Whites" of a century earlier (although, it is worth noting that the Whites included many different people with many ideologies, such as monarchists, socialists, liberals, and others).
  • 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.
  • In Uruguay, the conservative National Party is also known as "White Party", counterpart of the liberal "Red Party" during the two-party era.
  • In Venezuela, white has been the traditional colour of the Democratic Action party, one of the two parties that dominated the country's politics in the late 20th century (alongside Copei) and one of the parties currently in opposition to the PSUV.


Yellow is the colour most commonly associated with liberalism. It is the official colour of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), as well as being the colour of liberal parties in Germany, Romania, Estonia and the United Kingdom (the Liberal Democrats). Yellow or gold, usually together with blue or purple, is also often used to represent right-libertarianism and classical liberalism.

By country[edit]

In this map of the 2012 presidential election results, the states are colour-coded by the political colour of the party whose candidate won their electoral college votes, but the political meanings of red and blue in the United States are different from their meanings in most of the world

Notable national political colour schemes include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Min Reuchamps (17 December 2014). Minority Nations in Multinational Federations: A Comparative Study of Quebec and Wallonia. Routledge. p. 140. ISBN 9781317634720.
  2. ^ Sureyyya Evren, "Black Flag White Masks: Anti-Racism and Anarchist Historiography." Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action 8.1 (2014).
  3. ^ "Why is the Conservative Party blue?". BBC News. 20 April 2006. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Blue is the colour of peace". Infochangeindia.org. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  5. ^ David Starkey (2007). Living Blue in the Red States. University Press of Nebraska.
  6. ^ a b "Change That Matters". Democrats.org. 14 September 2010. Archived from the original on 19 October 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  7. ^ Jean-Denis Lepage, Hitler's Stormtroopers: The SA, The Nazis’ Brownshirts, 1922-1945 (2016).
  8. ^ Antony Millner; Hélène Ollivier; Leo Simon (2016). "Policy experimentation, political competition, and heterogeneous beliefs". Journal of Public Economics. 120: 84–96. doi:10.1016/j.jpubeco.2014.08.008.
  9. ^ Russell J. Dalton (1994). The Green Rainbow: Environmental Groups in Western Europe.
  10. ^ John Witte (1993). Christianity and Democracy in Global Context. Westview Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780813318431.
  11. ^ Taras Kuzio, Aspects of the Orange Revolution VI: Post-Communist Democratic Revolutions in Comparative Perspective (2007).
  12. ^ "Presidente Santos reafirmó que pertenece al partido de La U" (in Spanish). 16 September 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  13. ^ Electoral Commission (27 November 2007). "The Family Party - Applications to register party name and logo". Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  14. ^ Electoral Commission (17 December 2007). "The Family Party registered, logo declined". Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  15. ^ Peter Hitchens (26 March 2010). The Cameron Delusion. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 978-1-4411-2390-9.
  16. ^ Arthur Jay Klinghoffer (2006). The Power of Projections: How Maps Reflect Global Politics and History. Greenwood. p. 79.
  17. ^ David Starkey (2007). Living Blue in the Red States. University Press of Nebraska.
  18. ^ Véronique Bénéï (2005). Manufacturing Citizenship: education and nationalism in Europe, South Asia and China. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-36488-4.
  19. ^ Jon Kelly (4 May 2015). "The seats where Tories weren't blue and Labour wasn't red". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  20. ^ "Historic Election Results". The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  21. ^ "Reds and Blues – The Handbook of Texas Online". Tshaonline.org. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  22. ^ Tara A. Rowe (13 January 2005). "The Political Game: The Red and Blue State Phenomenon". Politicalgame.blogspot.com. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  23. ^ Nicholas Laham (1996). A Lost Cause: Bill Clinton's Campaign for National Health Insurance. Greenwood. p. 84.