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Free Democratic Party of Switzerland
The Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei (FDP) (in French: Parti radical-démocratique (PRD) and in Italian: Partito Liberale-Radicale Svizzero (PLR)) is a free market liberal party in Switzerland. The official English translation of the party's name is Free Democratic Party of Switzerland.
The party is a member of Liberal International and the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party. A few of the cantonal parties in Central Switzerland are/were named Liberal Party (Liberale Partei), and not affiliated with the Liberal Party of Switzerland. As of March 2005, the party president is Fulvio Pelli . Current members in the Federal Council are Pascal Couchepin and Hans-Rudolf Merz.
As a classical Liberal party, the FDP generally opposes state intervention in social and economic affairs. Based on its conception of the individual as free, sovereign and self-responsible, it rejects notions of a welfare state and paternalist regulation that became common in Liberalism in other European countries in the late nineteenth century. The FDP professes faith in the free market, free trade, economic deregulation and the rule of law.
As regards specific issues, it is often labeled progressive with regard to social policy, supporting e.g. the legalisation of soft drugs and legal recognition for same-sex couples. In economic policy, it generally favors reduced government spending, tax cuts and a flexible labour market. However, like most other Swiss parties it has no tradition of strong central leadership or ideological unity, and consequently the views of its individual representatives or functionaries vary considerably across the rough center of the political spectrum.
The FDP is often considered to be closely associated with Swiss business interests, in particular banks and pharmaceutical companies. In the eyes of its detractors on the Right, this has caused it to abandon its liberal values at times, e.g. by its support of import protection for medicine or of the expensive 2002 government bailout of the failing national airline, Swissair.
The elements liberal, radical and "free-thinking" (German freisinnig) in the party's name suggest a left-wing party, while in the current political landscape of Switzerland, the FDP is center-right. This is because the name dates back to the conflicts between the catholic conservative cantons and the protestant liberal cantons that led to the foundation of the Swiss federal state in 1848. The burgeois protestant cantons had defeated the catholic cantons, and from 1848 until 1891, the Federal Council was composed entirely of FDP members. It was only with the rise of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland in the early 20th century that the FDP found itself on the right side of the political center.
- 1978-1984 Yann Richter , Neuchâtel
- 1984-1989 Bruno Hunziker , Aargau
- 1989-2001 Franz Steinegger , Uri
- 2001-2002 Gerold Bührer , Schaffhausen
- 2002-2004 Christiane Langenberger , Vaud
- 2004 Rolf Schweiger , Zug
- 2005- Fulvio Pelli , Ticino
- Contributions to liberal theory
- Liberalism worldwide
- List of liberal parties
- Liberal democracy
- Liberalism and radicalism in Switzerland
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