This book investigates how liberal parties have evolved over time as a party family, in a comparative perspective. Through a discussion of the applicability of the concept of party family to liberal parties, it gives a better picture of the development, challenges, and opportunities for liberal parties in Europe.
The history of liberal parties in Europe is peculiar and the origins of the liberal family are not clearly defined. Liberal parties are still quite heterogeneous given the various meanings embraced in the idea of liberalism, including economic liberalism, cultural liberalism, progressivism, social-liberalism. Bringing together the best specialists engaged in the study of liberal parties, and with a two-levels perspective (comparative and case study), this book renews and expands our knowledge on the liberal party family in Europe. Four major themes are developed, linked to the four approaches of the concept of party family: electoral performances, participation to power, ideology and political program, and party organization. These themes are systematically developed in case studies, and in comparative chapters.
Primarily aimed at scholars and students in comparative politics, this book should especially appeal to scholars in the fields of political parties and party systems, representation and elections, voting behavior, and public opinion.
‘In a period of high party system volatility, this timely book focuses on a group of parties that includes some of Europe’s oldest electoral competitors. Its chapters present useful profiles and comparisons of meaning and endurance of party family labels.’
— Susan E. Scarrow, University of Houston
‘With detailed case studies of the history, ideology, organization, electoral performance, and governmental participation of liberal parties in 20 European countries, plus at the EU level, this volume provides a most useful resource for students of party politics. In addition, the concluding comparative chapters provide the necessary analysis to consider whether there truly is a liberal party ‘family’ and the features that unite and distinguish these parties from their competitors.’
— William Cross, Carleton University
Caroline Close and Emilie van Haute
Part I: Case studies
Chapter 1: The Norwegian Left and the Finnish Centre: What, no capital ‘L’ liberal parties?
Chapter 2: The Danish Liberal Parties
Chapter 3: The Centre Party and the Liberals: The Swedish members of the liberal party family?
Chapter 4: Liberalism in the Netherlands: The VVD and D66
Chapter 5: Belgian Liberals: Living apart together…
Chapter 6: Diversity, unity, and beyond: The Swiss Liberals
Chapter 7: Liberal parties in Austria
Laurenz Ennser-Jedenastik and Anita Bodlos
Chapter 8: It’s (not only) the economy, stupid?: Past and future of the German Liberal Party
Sebastian U. Bukow
Chapter 9: The UK Liberal Democrats: Liberalism at a crossroads
Alan Wager and Tim Bale
Chapter 10: Fianna Fáil: In the Liberals but not of the Liberals
Conor Little and David M. Farrell
Chapter 11: Nuanced liberalism: The weakness of liberal parties in Spain
Chapter 12: Liberal parties in Central and Eastern Europe: Between success and failure
Blagovesta Cholova and Jean-Michel De Waele
Chapter 13: Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia
Chapter 14: The Liberals in Europe: The alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Wouter Wolfs and Steven Van Hecke
Part II: Comparative perspective on liberal parties in Europe
Chapter 15: Liberal parties and elections: Electoral performances and voters' profiles
Caroline Close and Pascal Delwit
Chapter 16: Governmental participation and alliances of liberal parties in Europe
Johan Hellström and Daniel Walther
Chapter 17: The liberal party family ideology: Distinct, but diverse
Chapter 18: How liberal parties organise
Stefanie Beyens, Emilie van Haute, and Tom Verthé
Liberal parties in Europe: Conclusion
Caroline Close and Emilie van Haute