The Progressive Democrats (PDs) were an Irish political party formed in 1985. Unlike older Irish parties, the PDs did not have any origin in the politics of the 1920s Civil War, and instead were borne of a distinct political ideology. The party was economically conservative, but professed to be socially liberal, although this claim was sometimes called into question. After a devastating result in the 2007 general election, the party's members voted to disband the party in September 2008. The party will officially cease to exist in November.
The party was established in 1985 by a breakaway group from the governing Fíanna Fáil party. Led by Des O'Malley, the party vowed to provide a new voice in Irish politics. The PDs fared well in general elections that followed, and by the late 1990s, with relations with Fíanna Fáil having improved, the party entered government for the first time in a coalition with Fíanna Fáil. Party members have served in important governmental positions - two members, Mary Harney and Michael McDowell, have served as Tánaiste, while also carrying the portfolios of Health and Justice respectively.
The party suffered a devastating defeat in the 2007 general election, with the majority of its members losing their seats in parliament. In 2008, the party leadership voted to disband the party, as there seemed to be no prospect of recovering their old position.
- Des O'Malley (1985 - 1993)
- Mary Harney (1993 - 2006)
- Michael McDowell (2006 - 2007)
- Mary Harney (2007)
- Ciarán Cannon (2007 - 2008)