1st Edition

Liberal Parties in Europe

ISBN 9781032093819
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
412 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations

USD $48.95

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents


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?

David Arter

Chapter 2: The Danish Liberal Parties

Karina Kosiara-Pedersen

Chapter 3: The Centre Party and the Liberals: The Swedish members of the liberal party family?

Niklas Bolin

Chapter 4: Liberalism in the Netherlands: The VVD and D66

Gerrit Voerman

Chapter 5: Belgian Liberals: Living apart together...

Vivien Sierens

Chapter 6: Diversity, unity, and beyond: The Swiss Liberals

Oscar Mazzoleni

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

Lidia Núñez

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

Daunis Auers

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

Caroline Close

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

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Caroline Close is an Assistant Professor at SciencePo ULB, Centre d’étude de la vie politique (Cevipol), Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Her main research interests are party organization, intraparty politics, party ideology, legislative studies, elections, and democratic innovations.

Emilie van Haute is an Associate Professor and Chair of SciencePo ULB and conducts her research at Centre d’étude de la vie politique (Cevipol), Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Her main research interests include party membership, intra-party dynamics, participation, elections, and voting behaviour.


‘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