The Liberal Democrats, often shortened to Lib Dems, are a centrist political party in the United Kingdom, formed in 1988 by a merger of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. The two parties had formed the electoral SDP-Liberal Alliance for seven years before then. The party’s leader is Nick Clegg.

The Lib Dems are the third-largest party in the UK Parliament, behind Labour and the Conservatives. There are 63 Lib Dem Members of Parliament (MPs) – 62 were elected at the 2005 general election, and one in the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election, 2006. The Scottish Liberal Democrats formed a coalition Scottish Executive with Labour in the first two sessions of the Scottish Parliament, and the Welsh party were in a coalition with Labour in the National Assembly for Wales from 2001 to 2003.

Promoting social liberalism, Lib Dems seek to minimise state intervention in personal affairs: they oppose what they call the ‘nanny state’. Their president’s book of office is John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, which defined the harm principle of law. While objecting to state limitations of individual rights, they favour a welfare state that provides for the necessities and amenities of life.

They support multilateral foreign policy; they opposed British participation in the War in Iraq and supported the withdrawal of troops from the country, and are the most pro-European Union of the three main parties in the UK. The party has strong environmentalist values – favouring renewable energy and commitments to deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Since their foundation, Lib Dems have advocated electoral reform to use proportional representation, replacing the House of Lords with an elected chamber, and cutting government departments.


Also see Liberal Democrats Policies Debate for discussion on specific Liberal Democrat Policies. For a Liberal Democrat Party discussion not covered below feel free to create your own forum topic at Liberal Democrat Party Forum.

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