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Liberal conservatism is a political ideology combining conservative policies with liberal stances, especially on economic issues but also on social matters,representing a brand of political conservatism strongly influenced by liberalism.
The ideology incorporates the classical-liberal view on economic interventionism, according to which individuals should be free to participate in the market and generate wealth without government interference.However, liberal conservatives also hold that individuals cannot be thoroughly depended on to act responsibly in other spheres of life; therefore, they believe that a strong state is necessary to ensure law and order and that institutions are needed to nurture a sense of duty and responsibility to the nation. They also support civil liberties, along with some socially conservative positions.
In Europe, liberal conservatism is the dominant form of modern conservatism and centre-right politics.[ citation needed ] Most European liberal-conservative parties adhere to the European People's Party, originally formed by Christian democrats.
Both conservatism and liberalism have had different meanings over time in different centuries. The term liberal conservatism has been used in quite different ways. It usually contrasts with aristocratic conservatism, which deems the principle of equality as something discordant with human nature and emphasizes instead the idea of natural inequality. As conservatives in democratic countries have 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 among conservatives. In some countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States, 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 instead. However, there are differences between classical liberals and libertarians.
In the United States, conservatives often combine the economic individualism of 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 human drive for order and stability and the rejection of natural rights as the basis for government.From a different perspective, American conservatism (a "hybrid of conservatism and classical liberalism") has exalted three tenets of Burkean conservatism, namely the diffidence toward the power of the state, the preference of liberty over equality and patriotism while rejecting the three remaining tenets, namely loyalty to traditional institutions and hierarchies, scepticism regarding progress and elitism. Consequently, the term liberal conservatism is not used in the United States. Modern American liberalism happens to be quite different from European liberalism and occupies the centre-left of the political spectrum, in contrast to many European countries where liberalism is often more associated with the centre and centre-right while social democracy makes up a substantial part of the centre-left. The opposite is true in Latin America, where economically liberal conservatism is often labelled under the rubric of neoliberalism both in popular culture and academic discourse.
In their embracement of liberal and free market principles, European liberal conservatives are clearly distinguishable from those holding national-conservative, fully socially conservative and/or outright populist views, let alone a right-wing populist posture. Being liberal often involves stressing free market economics and the belief in individual responsibility together with the defense of civil rights and support for a limited welfare state.[ citation needed ] Compared to other centre-right political traditions such as Christian democracy, liberal conservatives are less socially conservative and more economically liberal, favouring low taxes and minimal state intervention in the economy.[ citation needed ] Some regional varieties and peculiarities can be observed:
At the European level, Christian democrats and most liberal conservatives are affiliated to the European People's Party (EPP), while liberals (including conservative and social liberals) to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE Party). In this context, some traditionally Christian-democratic parties (such as Christian-Democratic and Flemish in Belgium, the Christian Democratic Appeal in the Netherlands, the Christian Democratic Union in Germany and the People's Party in Austria) have become almost undistinguishable from other liberal-conservative parties. On the other hand, newer liberal-conservative parties (such as New Democracy in Greece, the Social Democratic Party in Portugal, the People's Party in Spain, Forza Italia/The People of Freedom/Forza Italia in Italy, the Union for a Popular Movement/The Republicans in France and most centre-right parties from countries once belonging to the Eastern Bloc and Yugoslavia) have not adopted traditional labels, but their ideologies are also a mixture of conservatism, Christian democracy and liberalism.
In the modern European discourse, liberal conservatism usually encompasses centre-right political outlooks that reject at least to some extent social conservatism. This position is also associated with support for moderate forms of social safety net and environmentalism (see also green conservatism and green liberalism). This variety of liberal conservatism has been espoused by Nordic conservatives (the Moderate Party in Sweden, the Conservative Party in Norway and the National Coalition Party in Finland) which have been fending off competition from right-wing populists to their right and do not include Christian democrats; and at times the British Conservative Party. In an interview shortly after taking office as Prime Minister in 2010, David Cameron introduced himself as a liberal conservative.During his first speech to a party conference in 2006, Cameron had defined this as believing in individual freedom and human rights, but being skeptical of "grand schemes to remake the world".
Historically, conservatism in the 18th and 19th centuries comprised a set of principles based on concern for established tradition, respect for authority and religious values. This form of traditionalist or classical conservatism is often considered to be exemplified by the writings of Joseph de Maistre in the post-Enlightenment age. Contemporaneous liberalism, now recalled as 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, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, who are respectively remembered as the fathers of liberalism, including economic liberalism, the separation of church and state, social liberalism and utilitarianism.
According to scholar Andrew Vincent, the maxim of liberal conservatism is "economics is prior to politics".Others emphasize the openness of historical change and a suspicion of tyrannical majorities behind the hailing of individual liberties and traditional virtues by authors such as Edmund Burke and Alexis de Tocqueville as the basis of current liberal conservatism which can be seen both in the works of Raymond Aron and Michael Oakeshott. However, there is general agreement that the original liberal conservatives were those who combined conservative social attitudes with an economically liberal outlook, adapting a previous aristocratic understanding of natural inequalities between men to the rule of meritocracy, without 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, the term liberal is used in most countries to describe those with free-market economic views. This is the case in continental Europe, Australia and Latin America.
The Liberal Party of Australia has an ideology in line with liberal conservatism and is therefore right of centre.
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.
The ideological underpinnings of policy directions in the National Party under the leadership of John Key appear to reflect a liberal conservatism
Conservatism is an aesthetic, cultural, social, and political philosophy, which seeks to promote and to preserve traditional social institutions. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the traditional values or practices of the culture and civilization in which it appears. In Western culture, conservatives seek to preserve a range of institutions such as organized religion, parliamentary government, and property rights. Adherents of conservatism often oppose modernism and seek a return to traditional values.
Right-wing politics supports the view that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics, or tradition. Hierarchy and inequality may be seen as natural results of traditional social differences or competition in market economies. The term right-wing can generally refer to "the conservative or reactionary section of a political party or system".
The Liberals, known as the Liberal People's Party until 22 November 2015, is a liberal political party in Sweden. It was a part of the Alliance centre-right coalition government led by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt from 2006 to 2014. The party is the seventh-largest party in the Swedish Riksdag. The party is a member of the Liberal International and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Social conservatism is a political philosophy and variety of conservatism which places emphasis on traditional power structures over social pluralism. Social conservatism in North America rose in the early 1800s as a reaction to the perceived anti-Christian and anti-constitutional aspects of slavery, as articulated by William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln. They also engaged with the economic insecurity of lower-class Protestant Americans, McCarthyism and other challenges to social institutions. Social conservatives often promoted the organisation and politicisation of social issues.
The Swedish People's Party of Finland is a liberal-centrist political party in Finland aiming to represent the interests of the minority Swedish-speaking population of Finland. An ethnic catch-all party, the party's main election issue has been since its inception the Swedish-speaking Finns' right to their own language and to maintain the Swedish language's position in Finland. The party was in governmental position 1979–2015 with one or two seats in the government and collaborated with the centre-right as well as the centre-left in the Parliament of Finland. After the 2015 election SFP was left out of the government formed by the three largest parties. In 2019, SFP had two seats in the government, the Minister of Justice and the Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality.
The National Coalition Party is a centre-right political party in Finland considered liberal, conservative and liberal-conservative. Founded in 1918, the National Coalition Party is one of the "big three" parties that have dominated Finnish national politics for several decades, along with the Social Democratic Party and the Centre Party. The current party chair is Petteri Orpo, elected on 11 June 2016. The party self-statedly bases its politics on "freedom, responsibility and democracy, equal opportunities, education, supportiveness, tolerance and caring" and supports multiculturalism and LGBT rights. It is pro-NATO and pro-European as well as a member of the European People's Party (EPP).
The role by Union for French Democracy was a centre-right political party in France. It was founded in 1978 as an electoral alliance to support President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in order to counterbalance the Gaullist preponderance over the political right in France. This name was chosen due to the title of Giscard d'Estaing's 1976 book, Démocratie française. The party brought together Christian democrats, liberals and radicals, and non-Gaullist conservatives, and described itself as centrist.
Christian democracy is a political ideology that emerged in 19th-century Europe under the influence of Catholic social teaching, as well as neo-Calvinism. It was conceived as a combination of modern democratic ideas and traditional Christian values and Christian ethics, incorporating the social teachings espoused by Christian traditions in various parts of the world. After World War II, Catholic and Protestant movements of neo-scholasticism and the Social Gospel, respectively, played a role in shaping Christian democracy. Adherents of the ideology are known as Christian democrats.
Venstre, full name Venstre, Danmarks Liberale Parti, is a conservative-liberal, agrarian political party in Denmark. Founded as part of a peasants' movement against the landed aristocracy, today it espouses an economically liberal, pro-free-market ideology.
Social liberalism, also known as left liberalism in Germany, modern liberalism in the United States and new liberalism in the United Kingdom, is a political philosophy and variety of liberalism that endorses a regulated market economy and the expansion of civil and political rights. Under social liberalism, the common good is viewed as harmonious with the freedom of the individual.
In general, liberalism in Europe is a political movement that supports a broad tradition of individual liberties and constitutionally-limited and democratically accountable government. These European derivatives of classical liberalism are found in centrist movements and parties as well as some parties on the centre-right and the centre-left.
Centre-right politics or center-right politics, also referred to as moderate-right politics, lean to the right of the political spectrum, but are closer to the centre than others. From the 1780s to the 1880s, there was a shift in the Western world of social class structure and the economy, moving away from the nobility and mercantilism, toward the bourgeoisie and capitalism. This general economic shift toward capitalism affected centre-right movements, such as the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom, which responded by becoming supportive of capitalism.
Conservative liberalism is a variant of liberalism, combining liberal values and policies with conservative stances, or simply representing the right wing of the liberal movement. It is a more positive and less radical variant of classical liberalism.
National conservatism is a variant of conservatism common in Europe and Asia that concentrates on upholding national and cultural identity, usually combining this nationalist concern with conservative stances promoting traditional values.
Conservatism in North America is a political philosophy that varies in form, depending on the country and the region, but that has similar themes and goals. Academic study into the differences and similarities between conservatism in North American countries has been undertaken on numerous occasions. Reginald Bibby has asserted that the primary reason that conservatism has been so strong and enduring throughout North America is because of the propagation of religious values from generation to generation. This connection is strongest in mainstream Protestantism in the United States and both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in Canada.
National liberalism is a variant of liberalism, combining liberal policies and issues with elements of nationalism.
Centrism is a political outlook or position that involves acceptance and/or support of a balance of social equality and a degree of social hierarchy, while opposing political changes which would result in a significant shift of society strongly to either the left or the right.