National liberalism

Not to be confused with Civic nationalism.

National liberalism is a variant of liberalism, combining nationalism with some liberal policies, especially regarding education, state-church relations and modern, efficient, bureaucratic management.

The roots of national liberalism are to be found in the 19th century, when conservative liberalism was the ideology of the political classes in most European countries and in particular those of Central Europe, then governed by monarchies. At their origin, national liberals, although pro-business, were not, however, Manchesterian free-traders, that is advocates of economic liberalism, like the mainstream liberals of the 19th century everywhere else in the world, favoring instead cooperation between the government and the national industry by moderate levels of protectionism, the establishment of preferential custom unions, subsidies for infant industry or companies considered of strategic importance for national development, and various forms of incipient industrial planning. In German-speaking countries, national liberals were also in favour of a more authoritarian or conservative political regime because of the multi-ethnic character or heterogeneous nature of countries like the Austrian Empire (later officially renamed Austria-Hungary) or the newly created Germany.

National liberal parties exist today, for instance in Austria, where the ideology is one of the three traditional ideological strains in the country, and Romania, where it is at the base of the oldest and second-largest political party of the country..


In 19th-century Germany believers in national liberalism differed from liberal nationalists in that they believed in a more authoritarian presence in Europe and a strong Germanic Empire. Liberal nationalists, such as Max Weber, were looking towards a democratic Germany in cooperation with the other European powers.[1]

The term 'national liberalism' was mainly used in German-speaking countries such as Germany and Austria during the 19th century,[2][3][4] where "National-Liberal" parties were long in government. It also became very influential in nearby countries, like Romania.


In Austria, national liberalism has remained the basis of one of the three Lager, or ideological camps, in the country. Historically, this has been represented by the Freedom Party,[5] but they have recently been joined by a splinter, the Alliance for the Future of Austria.

Germany's Free Democratic Party continues to have a national liberal faction,[6] which holds a more eurosceptic position to the rest of the party.[7]

In Romania the National Liberal Party (PNL), founded in 1875, revived in 1990 and enlarged in 2014, has been part of the national-liberal tradition.

See also


  1. af Malmborg, Mikael; Stråth, Bo (2002). The meaning of Europe: variety and contention within and among nations. Berg Publishers. p. 297. ISBN 1-85973-581-9. Retrieved 31 October 2009.
  2. Verlag C.H. Beck, Germany from Napoléon to Bismarck, 1800-1866, Princeton University Press
  3. Alfred Wahl, Les forces politiques en Allemagne, Armand Colin
  4. Lucien Calvié, Unité nationale et liberté politique chez quelques libéraux allemands au début des années 30 and Naissance et évolution du libéralisme allemand, in Françoise Knopper et Gilbert Merlio (edited by), Notices politiques et littéraires sur l'Allemagne, Presses Universitaires du Mirail, Paris, 1835
  5. Luther, K. R. (1988). "The Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs: protest party or governing party". In Kirchner, Emil Joseph. Liberal Parties in Western Europe. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-521-32394-9.
  6. Kirchner, Emil Joseph (1988). Liberal Parties in Western Europe. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-521-32394-9.
  7. Taggart, Paul; Szczerbiak, Aleks. "The Party Politics of Euroscepticism in EU Member and Candidate States" (PDF). SEI Working Paper. 51. Sussex European Institute: 11.


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