This essay starts by explaining the motives behind the liberals’ strong influence and the introduction of liberalism’s political influence in different regions of Europe, America, Asia, and Africa giving a short history of its growth.
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Liberals’ main concerns are built on the idea of having free, fair, and open societies which are characterized by liberty and equality for all, where everybody is freed from poverty, conformity, or ignorance. The main idea or agenda of Liberalism is to disperse power on one hand and amplify diversity whilst promoting creativity on the other. From a political perspective, liberalism is highly practiced in the world today. It has been described as the main ideology of modern times. Liberals in the world are organized in liberal parties, think tanks, and other various institutions depending on different nations (Arnold 2009).
The history of European Liberalism can be traced back to the the17th century. There were two versions of liberalism in Europe English and French version. The English version advocated for increased values of democracy and constitutional reforms while the French version was for the removal of dictatorial economic and political structures. During the 20th Century just after World War 1, the social democrats together with the socialists replaced the liberals. During the Second World War, however, there was a mix of liberals and socialists, some of the liberals gained power while others lost it. For example, the fall of the Soviet Union gave way to the formation of Slovenian liberal democrats.
Liberal parties in recent times, especially in Western Europe, have undergone complete transformations which have enabled them to come back to the political scenes. In the 20th century, Liberal Party was kick-off the political scene by the labor party. To gather more strength liberals joined with the Social Democratic Party to form what is currently referred to as the Liberal Democrats. “In the 2005 general elections, liberal democrats earned a tremendous popularity in both the general elections and in local council elections for the first time in Britain” (Young 2002). “In this year’s general elections, a coalition formed by liberal democrats and the conservatives won the elections, leading to Nick Clegg the party leader being chosen to be UK’s Deputy Prime minister. This proved the influence that the liberals have on the country’s politics” (Young 2002).
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is credited with the introduction of modern liberalism in the United States, where the spirit of liberalism was passed over to John F Kennedy who openly described himself as a federalist. This idea of liberalism was developed by Roosevelt and John F, towards the close of the 20th century, when they developed the interest of the Republican Party. Their ideology was based on the cultural changes and civil unrests of the 60s. This drove president s Ronald Reagan, and the 1st and 2nd president Bush consecutively into power. The recent Economic crisis rekindle the spirit of liberalism which saw the rising of social liberalism leading to the voting in of president Barrack Obama in the year 2008 presidential elections.
In Latin America, liberals raised spirited fights which involved violence, in the efforts to remove the conservatives’ regimes in the 19th century. The great level of modernization in countries like Mexico and Ecuador is credited to the efforts of the liberals’. The Red Liberal de America Latina is a network of political parties from the Mexican and Cuban Liberal Union where its main concern is to secure power in Cuba. There is continuous alignment between the Liberal Parties through the adoption of the Social Liberal ideas and policies, for example, the Columbian Liberal Party has its membership in the Socialist International (Young 2002).
The idea of political liberalism in Asia can be described as a more recent activity compared to Europe or America. In Asia, liberals are organized in councils of Asian Liberals and Democrats. “This includes the Philippines Liberal Party, Taiwan’s progressive party, and Thailand’s Democratic Party” (Young 2002). “The liberals from Australia, are often accredited of supporting various forms of free markets and social conservatism”(Young 2002). Indians National Congress has been described as the most popular world’s democracy, it is highly credited for having dominance in Indian politics for quite a long period.INC was formed in the 20th century. Indian nationals who were liberalist advocated for more liberalization and autonomy in India. The party’s struggles are linked to the independence of India. Recently, the party has been inclined to liberal ways whereby it’s calling for more open markets and increased social justice. Asian liberalism has adapted the promotion of increased democracy as a means to propelling faster economic growth within the continent. This has not gone without a challenge in countries such as Myanmar where military dictatorship has taken place replacing liberal democracy (Young 2002).
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In the recent past, some of the African states have created liberal parties which are actively involved in pushing for political powers within their governments. In this region, liberalization is considerably weak compared to America and Asia. “Looking at the continent as whole liberals are organized under the Africa liberal Network which membership includes the Moroccan Popular Movement, Senegal’s Democratic Party, and Cote d’Ivoire’s Rally of the Republicans” (Flamm 2008). Of all African states, South Africa is the only country seen to have a more identifiable liberal tradition. This was greatly witnessed during the apartheid era where the main bodies that played crucial roles in opposing apartheid and its policies were the Liberal Party and Progressive Party. They had a party that was racially inclusive and had the support of the white peasant farmers. Though due to its size it could not make much political influence then, it outgrew to becoming a bigger political outfit. I.e. the Democratic Alliance, which forms the official opposition to the Africa National Congress the ruling party in South Africa (Flamm 2008).
Liberals in modern politics are seen as the forces behind political authority where they ensure constitutional order through individual rights such as freedom of association and speech, judicial independence, and promotion of democracy. Expansion of civil rights is also credited to the liberal’s efforts, for instance, the liberal feminist, which has been very aggressive agitating for women’s political rights and gender equality. Liberals have also been credited with the formation of the League of Nations which is currently referred to as the United Nations. There has been a significant political change all over the world resulting from the works of the liberals. Their influence can be seen by the increase in a number of the countries that practice liberalism having risen from 40 in 1975, to double the number in the year 2008 (Arnold 2009).
Arnold, N. S., 2009. Imposing values: an essay on liberalism and regulation, New York,Oxford University Press.
Flamm, M. and Steigerwald, H. D., 2008. Debating the 1960s, liberal,conservative, and radical perspectives, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
Young, S., 2002. Beyond Rawls, an analysis of the concept of political liberalism. Lanham,University Press of America.