Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Liberal parties (LPs) represent one of the major party “families,” such as the conservative, socialist, and nationalist parties originating from the 19th- and early-20th-century cleavages and party systems, in the context of which they have to be placed. The major characteristics of LPs include a social background in bourgeois groups, which advocate individual and property rights and the rule of law, in opposition to feudal and autocratic forms of the state. This entry discusses the historical roots, social bases, ideological orientations, and contemporary developments of LPs. There are two kinds of terminological variety. In the first case, liberal can have rather different meanings concerning ideological orientations or a party's position within the party system. Whereas in the European tradition liberal usually refers to parties in the middle of the political spectrum, in the North American context, liberal has a more left-wing, or social-democratic, meaning. In the second case, LPs liberal ...