Free democrats

Free Democratic Party (Germany)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Free Democrats (Norway)

Fridemokratene is an organization formed by former members of the Norwegian Progress Party in 1994. Because of inner tension, the 1993 election halved the Progress Party (6.3 percent and 10 representatives). In 1994 four representatives of the "libertarian wing" broke out, formed an independent group in parliament, and founded a party more ideologically consistent libertarian, Fridemokratene. The Free Democrats no longer participate in elections and function merely as a think tank and organization for Norwegian libertarians, regardless of their political allegiance.

Presidents of Fridemokratene

  • 1994-1996 Ellen Christine Christiansen
  • 1996-1998 Heidi Nordby Lunde
  • 1998-1999 Bent Johan Mossfjel
  • 1999-2000 Kristian Norheim
  • 2000-2003 Hans Jørgen Lysglimt
  • 2003-2005 Sverre Berg

Monday, September 04, 2006

Free Democratic Party (Switzerland)

The Free Democratic Party of Switzerland (German: Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei der Schweiz (FDP), French: Parti radical-démocratique suisse (PRD), Italian: Partito liberale radicale svizzero (PLR)) is a free market liberal party in Switzerland.

The party is a member of Liberal International and the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party. A few of the cantonal parties in Central Switzerland are/were named Liberal Party (Liberale Partei), and not affiliated with the Liberal Party of Switzerland. As of March 2005, the party president is Fulvio Pelli. Current members in the Federal Council are Pascal Couchepin and Hans-Rudolf Merz.

In 2003, it held 36 mandates (out of 200) in the Swiss National Council (first chamber of the Swiss parliament); 14 (out of 46) in the second chamber and 2 out of 7 mandates in the Swiss Federal Council (executive body). By 2005, it hold 27,2% of the seats in the Swiss Cantonal governments and 19,7% in the Swiss Cantonal parliaments (index "BADAC", weighted with the population and number of seats).


As a classical liberal party, the FDP generally opposes state intervention in social and economic affairs. Based on its conception of the individual as free, sovereign and self-responsible, it rejects notions of a welfare state and paternalist regulation that became common in Liberalism in other European countries in the late nineteenth century. The FDP professes faith in the free market, free trade, economic deregulation and the rule of law.

As regards specific issues, it is often labeled progressive with regard to social policy, supporting e.g. the legalisation of soft drugs and legal recognition for same-sex couples. In economic policy, it generally favors reduced government spending, tax cuts and a flexible labour market. However, like most other Swiss parties it has no tradition of strong central leadership or ideological unity, and consequently the views of its individual representatives or functionaries vary considerably across the rough center of the political spectrum.

The FDP is often considered to be closely associated with Swiss business interests, in particular banks and pharmaceutical companies. In the eyes of its detractors on the Right, this has caused it to abandon its liberal values at times, e.g. by its support of import protection for medicine or of the expensive 2002 government bailout of the failing national airline, Swissair.


The elements liberal, radical and "free-thinking" (German freisinnig) in the party's name suggest a left-wing party, while in the current political landscape of Switzerland, the FDP is center-right. This is because the name dates back to the conflicts during the period of Restauration between the Catholic conservative cantons and the Protestant liberal cantons that led to the foundation of the Swiss federal state in 1848. The bourgeois Protestant cantons had defeated the Catholic cantons, and from 1848 until 1891, the Federal Council was composed entirely of FDP members. The "Radical Party" of the restoration was actually left-wing compared to the Catholic Conservative Party, and it was only with the rise of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland in the early 20th century that the FDP found itself on the right side of the political center.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Free Democratic Party (Germany)

The Free Democratic Party (Freie Demokratische Partei - FDP) is a liberal political party in Germany. The party's ideology combines free-market economics with broad individual liberties. The FDP is currently the third-largest party in the Bundestag.

The FDP was formed on December 11, 1948, by local liberal parties. These were founded since 1945 by former members of the liberal German Democratic Party (DDP) and some from the center-right German People's Party (DVP). The FDP's first chairman, Theodor Heuss, was a former leader of the DDP. The FDP has traditionally been composed mainly of middle-class and upper-class Protestants who consider themselves "independents" and heirs to the European liberal tradition. The party is a relatively weak institutional party, gaining between 5.8 and 12.8% of the votes in federal elections. However, it has participated as a junior partner in all but six postwar federal governments in coalition with either the Christian Democrats (CDU) or the Social Democrats (SPD). Thus it has spent only about 15 years out of government since 1949. It has generally distinguished itself from the CDU and the SPD by advocating more market oriented policies.

The party became involved in controversy after ironically declaring itself to be the party of the "Besserverdienenden" ("better-earning people"), after the SPD had advocated a special tax for the "Besserverdienenden". Political adversaries say it opposes the interests of poorer people.

Over the course of its history the party's economic policies have shifted between social liberalism (in an European meaning) and market liberalism. However, since the 1980s the FDP has maintained a consistent free-market stance by German standards. Many of it policies acknowledge that certain aims can not be reached by market mechanisms alone and would not be seen as free-market policies in America. Examples for this are a support of a minimum welfare eligibility for everybody and strong anti-trust policies.

Regarding social issues as e.g. civil rights, immigration, its attitude to religion in the public sphere, and opposition to discrimination against homosexuals the party has always been much more social-liberal (in the American usage of the word), than either the CDU or the SPD. In contrast to SPD and CDU it is in favour of ending conscription in Germany.

In foreign policy the FDP supports European integration and transatlantic partnership.

In all federal election campaigns since the 1980s, the party has sided with the CDU and CSU, the main conservative parties in Germany. Following German reunification in 1990, the FDP merged with the Association of Free Democrats, a grouping of liberals from East Germany. During the 1990s, the FDP won between 6.2 and 11 percent of the vote in Bundestag elections. Between 1990 and 1998, it served as the junior partner in the government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the CDU.

In the 2005 general election the party received 9.8 percent and 61 federal deputies, an unpredicted jump from prior opinion polls. This has been explained as tactical voting by those who support strong economic reforms. However, because the CDU did less well than predicted, the FDP and the CDU could not form a coalition government. The disagreements over social issues (the FDP liberal, the CDU conservative) also complicated a coalition agreement. The party was considered as a potential member of various possible coalitions, following the election. The FDP was considered as a partner with the Social Democrats and Greens but most Free Democrats felt that the Social Democrats were not bold enough on economic reform. It was also considered in an CDU-FDP-Green Coalition, but the Greens quickly ruled not to participate in a coalition with the CDU. Instead, the CDU formed a "Grand Coalition" with the SPD, and the FDP entered the opposition.

The party's motto is "So viel Staat wie nötig, so wenig Staat wie möglich!", meaning "as much state as necessary, as little state as possible!"