Liberal Union (Germany)

Last updated
Liberal Union

Liberale Vereinigung
Leader Eduard Lasker
Founded1880;139 years ago (1880)
Dissolved1884;135 years ago (1884)
Split from National Liberal Party
Merged into German Free-minded Party
Ideology Liberalism
Economic liberalism
Conservative liberalism
Political position Centre
Colours     Yellow

The Liberal Union (German : Liberale Vereinigung) was a short-lived liberal party in the German Empire. It originated in 1880 as a break-away from the National Liberal Party and is therefore also called Secession [1] and merged with the left liberal German Progress Party to form the German Free-minded Party (German : Deutsche Freisinnige Partei, DFP) in 1884.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

This article aims to give a historical outline of liberalism in Germany. The liberal parties dealt with in the timeline below are, largely, those which received sufficient support at one time or another to have been represented in parliament. Not all parties so included, however, necessarily labeled themselves "liberal". The sign ⇒ denotes another party in that scheme.

A political party is an organized group of people who have the same ideology, or who otherwise have the same political positions, and who field candidates for elections, in an attempt to get them elected and thereby implement the party's agenda.

The leftist faction of the National Liberal Party expressed discontent with the party leadership's support for Otto von Bismarck's conservative government. [2] Most importantly, they supported free trade [1] whereas National Liberal leaders Rudolf von Bennigsen and Johann von Miquel sustained Bismarck's prohibitive tariffs strategy (Schutzzollpolitik). Other contentious points included the Anti-Socialist Laws (Sozialistengesetze), [3] the Kulturkampf against the Catholic Church and the septennial military budget (Septennat).

Otto von Bismarck 19th-century German statesman and Chancellor

Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg, known as Otto von Bismarck, was a conservative Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs from the 1860s until 1890 and was the first Chancellor of the German Empire between 1871 and 1890. In 1862, King Wilhelm I appointed him as Minister President of Prussia, a position he would hold until 1890, with the exception of a short break in 1873. He provoked three short, decisive wars against Denmark, Austria, and France. Following the victory against Austria, he abolished the supranational German Confederation and instead formed the North German Confederation as the first German national state in 1867, leading it as Federal Chancellor. This aligned the smaller North German states behind Prussia. Later receiving the support of the independent South German states in the Confederation's defeat of France, he formed the German Empire in 1871, unifying Germany with himself as Imperial Chancellor, while retaining control of Prussia at the same time. The new German nation excluded Austria, which had been Prussia's main opponent for predominance among the German states.

Conservatism in Germany has encompassed a wide range of theories and ideologies in the last three hundred years, but most historical conservative theories supported the monarchical/hierarchical political structure.

Free trade policy in which countries governments do not restrict imports from, or exports to, other countries

Free trade is a trade policy that does not restrict imports or exports; it can also be understood as the free market idea applied to international trade. In government, free trade is predominantly advocated by political parties that hold liberal economic positions while economically left-wing and nationalist political parties generally support protectionism, the opposite of free trade.

Eduard Lasker led the Secession. [2] Other notable members included Ludwig Bamberger, Berlin's mayor Max von Forckenbeck, [2] historian and future Nobel laureate Theodor Mommsen, [3] Friedrich Kapp, Theodor Barth, Heinrich Edwin Rickert [4] and Georg von Siemens. [3] The Liberal Union was a notables' party ( Honoratiorenpartei  [ de ]), having its electorate mainly amongst the North and East German upper classes, wholesale merchants and intellectuals. The organisational structure was rather loose. Nevertheless, the new grouping was initially successful, gaining 46 seats of the Reichstag in the 1881 federal election—as many as the preceding National liberals. [3]

Eduard Lasker German politician and jurist

Eduard Lasker was a German politician and jurist. Inspired by the French Revolution, he became a spokesman for liberalism and the leader of the left wing of the National Liberal party, which represented middle-class professionals and intellectuals. He promoted the unification of Germany during the 1860s and played a major role in codification of the German legal code. Lasker at first compromised with Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who later strenuously opposed Lasker regarding freedom of the press. In 1881, Lasker left the National Liberal party and helped form the new German Free Thought Party.

Ludwig Bamberger German politician

Ludwig Bamberger was a German economist, politician, revolutionary and writer.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Ultimately, the Secessionists planned to merge all German liberals into a single whole liberal party—hence the name Liberal Union, with liberal and parliamentary monarchist positions, modelled after the British Liberal Party and ideally to govern under a future Emperor Frederick III. [5] However, the National Liberals made clear they would not leave the majority loyal to Bismarck, therefore Secessionist representative Franz von Stauffenberg negotiated with Eugen Richter, the leader of the left liberal German Progress Party in early 1884. As early as in March 1884, both parties' legislators formed a joint parliamentary group with together 100 seats. Timely to the federal election in October, the German Free-minded Party was formed. [3] Subsequently, the parliamentary representation diminished to only 64 members of the Reichstag.

A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the sovereign exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchy differs from absolute monarchy in that constitutional monarchs are bound to exercise their powers and authorities within the limits prescribed within an established legal framework. Constitutional monarchies range from countries such as Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain, where the constitution grants substantial discretionary powers to the sovereign, to countries such as Japan and Sweden where the monarch retains no formal authorities.

Liberal Party (UK) political party of the United Kingdom, 1859–1988

The Liberal Party was one of the two major parties in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade Peelites and Radicals favourable to the ideals of the American and French Revolutions in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite being divided over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to government in 1905 and then won a landslide victory in the following year's general election.

Frederick III, German Emperor German Emperor

Frederick III was German Emperor and King of Prussia for ninety-nine days in 1888, the Year of the Three Emperors. Known informally as "Fritz", he was the only son of Emperor Wilhelm I and was raised in his family's tradition of military service. Although celebrated as a young man for his leadership and successes during the Second Schleswig, Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars, he nevertheless professed a hatred of warfare and was praised by friends and enemies alike for his humane conduct. Following the unification of Germany in 1871 his father, then King of Prussia, became the German Emperor. Upon Wilhelm's death at the age of ninety on 9 March 1888, the thrones passed to Frederick, who had by then been German Crown Prince for seventeen years and Crown Prince of Prussia for twenty-seven years. Frederick was suffering from cancer of the larynx when he died, aged fifty-six, following unsuccessful medical treatments for his condition.

See also

Liberal democracy form of government

Liberal democracy is a liberal political ideology and a form of government in which representative democracy operates under the principles of classical liberalism. Also called Western democracy, it is characterised by elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society, a market economy with private property and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and political freedoms for all people. To define the system in practice, liberal democracies often draw upon a constitution, either formally written or uncodified, to delineate the powers of government and enshrine the social contract. After a period of sustained expansion throughout the 20th century, liberal democracy became the predominant political system in the world.

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  1. 1 2 Eley, Geoff (1992), "Bismarckian Germany", Modern Germany Reconsidered: 1870-1945, Routledge, p. 17.
  2. 1 2 3 Harris, James F. (1984), A Study in the Theory and Practice of German Liberalism: Eduard Lasker, 1829-1884, University Press of America, p. 38.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Archived copy". LeMO: Lebendiges Museum Online. Deutsches Historisches Museum. Archived from the original on 16 August 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).
  4. Killy, Walther; Vierhaus, Rudolf (2005). Dictionary of German Biography, vol. 8. München. p. 306. ISBN   3-598-23298-5.
  5. Nipperdey, Thomas (1995), Deutsche Geschichte 1866-1918, II, C.H. Beck, p. 327.
Preceded by
National Liberal Party (Germany)
liberal German parties
Succeeded by
German Free-minded Party