Liberalism

   A political philosophy that developed gradually dur ing the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In the 1780s, some of the Patriots advocated a new constitution through which the aristo cratic and oligarchic system, headed by the Stadtholder William V of Orange, would be replaced by a more democratic system. Dur ing the reign of King William I, proponents of liberalism became vociferous, especially in the southern part of the Netherlands (i.e., Belgium), where liberals demanded freedom of education and of the press. After the secession of Belgium, the liberals in the North ern Netherlands also demanded responsible government and public discussion about the state’s budget and financial policy. Johan Rudolf Thorbecke became their leader in the 1840s. Beginning around 1870, modern political partieswith programs were founded, including the parties composed of Socialists, Roman Catholics, and orthodox Protestants. The Liberal movement split into a more conservative wing and a radical one that proposed a wider extension of the right to vote (even universal suffrage) and an active role of the state in society. After 1917, the Liberal movement declined. Only after World WarII was the new liberal party, the Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD, People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) invited to take part in a coalition that formed the government. During recent decades, this party has usually been the third biggest in the Parliament.

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.

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