Liberal conservatism

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Liberal conservatism is a vague term for a political ideology which combines liberal economic or social theory with a classic-conservative regard for Tradition. The Irish politician Edmund Burke (1729–1797) is normally held to be the father of liberal conservatism.

After Burke's death, groups opposed to liberal ideals began to call themselves conservative. Opposing the French Revolution was a thing they had in common with Burke, but was often groups from the existing overclass/nobility, who wanted to secure their positions and the current political system, which gave them large benefits. Rivalry between those and the liberal conservatives have affected conservative parties in Europe from the 19th century to large parts of the 20th century.

In the Burkean view, conservatism is not a matter of ideology, but a more cautious outlook on the notion of progress. He saw in French Revolution an example of the serious danger of destroying tradition in favour of an unproven idea of 'progress.' Thus, conservatism of this sort is in opposition with idealism, rather than liberalism. Of course, the meaning of conservatism has shifted enormously in the intervening centuries, as modern American conservatism embodies a rejection of the welfare liberalism of the New Deal, fused with Christian social conservatism. Burke's notion of liberal conservatism nevertheless remains strong in Western Europe and Canada.

Central ideals of liberal conservatism


  • Slow and cautious progress, maintaining successful solutions and traditions from the past.


  • The value of established, traditional institutions
  • The individual human's freedom.
  • Capitalism and a free economy/market.
  • Small but effective government.
  • Personal responsibility for life and future.
  • Right of property

Political parties

Most conservative political parties in Northern Europe today, are liberal conservative. This includes the British Tories and the conservative parties of the Scandinavian countries. Other parties that stands close to those are CDU in Germany, and UMP in France.

See also