The Liberal Party: From Agrarian and Liberal to Centre-Right Catch-All

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Abstract

The Liberals might have been the most important party in Danish politics in the first two decades of the twenty-first century. They have held the position of PM most of the time and passed a number of policy reforms. A precondition to this success was an expansion of its electorate and a major transformation of the party from a class-based agrarian party towards a catch-all party with appeal to centre-right voters in all social groups. Farmers comprised a dwindling group, unlike during the nineteenth century when the Liberals fought for universal suffrage and parliamentary democracy. The Liberals first stressed their liberal ideology and were able to win over many voters from the Conservatives, hit by internal problems, during the 1990s. Later, they de-emphasized ideology and moved towards the centre in economic matters. These manoeuvres proved electorally successful. In office, the party passed a major reform of local government, among other initiatives. Yet the Liberals’ relatively strong organization—a feature they have had in common with other Nordic parties with agrarian origins—weakened in the process, and during the 2010s, the party again lost votes
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Danish Politics
EditorsPeter Munk Christiansen, Jørgen Elklit, Peter Nedergaard
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date2020
Chapter19
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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