Liberalism in Europe

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A general overview and comprehensive discussion of this topic may be found in the article Liberalism.

In general, liberalism in Europe is a political movement that supports a broad tradition of individual liberties and constitutionally-limited and democratically accountable government. This usually encompasses the belief that government should act to alleviate poverty and other social problems, but not through radical changes to the structure of society. Supporters of Classic liberalism are mainly found in centrist movements and parties; however, supporters of other versions of liberalism are found in political parties across the left and right spectrum.

European liberals in the centre-right generally favor limited government intervention in economy. Most of them adhere to conservative liberalism or liberal conservativism.

European liberals in the centre-left are represented in the major social democrat parties, for example the third way-ers, and they are in favour of liberal socialism or social liberalism.[1] They are divided on the degree of government intervention in economy.

Liberal practices

Liberal political parties have specific policies, which the social scientist can either read from party manifestos, or infer from actual actions and laws passed by ostensibly liberal parties. The sources listed below serve to illustrate some of the current liberal attitudes in Europe.

  • the policies of liberal parties in government, including those in coalition arrangements (taking into mind that coalition partners make compromises), since they show what liberals are prepared to "accept" as well as the policies of liberal parties in opposition
  • the forum of the German FDP,[4] which is relatively unmoderated, and illustrates grassroots liberal concerns. Sites of other Liberal parties, e.g. the British Liberal Democrats[5] and the Netherlands' Democrats 66,[6] are more heavily moderated and therefore more representative for the policy of liberal parties.
  • the Belgian website / think tank[7] which has longer essays on new liberal policies

Additionally, liberal value preferences can be inferred from the liberalisation programmes and policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The liberalism visible in these sources emphasizes in comparison with other ideologies more belief in individual development as a motor for society and the state providing a social safety net. The liberal policies differ from country to country and from party to party.

See also


  1. Europe, a Political Profile: An American Companion to European Politics - Hans Slomp - Google Books. 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2012-04-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. ALDE Group in the European Parliament : Home
  3. European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party Manifestos
  4. "FDP :: FDP Bundesverband". Retrieved 2012-04-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Liberal Democrats : Home". 2012-04-20. Retrieved 2012-04-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "". Retrieved 2012-04-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Liberales". 2004-12-01. Retrieved 2012-04-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>