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Free Democratic Party of Switzerland


Free Democratic Party of Switzerland

Free Democratic Party/Radical Democratic Party
German: Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei
French: Parti radical-démocratique
Italian: Partito Liberale Radicale
Romansh: Partida liberaldemocrata svizra
Founded 1894 (1894)
Dissolved January 1, 2009 (2009-01-01)
Merged into FDP.The Liberals
Headquarters Neuengasse 20
Postfach 6136
CH-3001 Bern
Ideology Liberalism (Switzerland)
Classical liberalism
Political position Centre-right[1][2][3]
International affiliation Liberal International
European affiliation European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party
Colours      Azure
Politics of Switzerland
Political parties

The Free Democratic Party or Radical Democratic Party[4][5][6] (German: Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei, FDP; French: Parti radical-démocratique, PRD; Italian: Partito liberale-radicale svizzero, PLR; Romansh: Partida liberaldemocrata svizra, PLD) was a liberal,[7][8][9] classical liberal,[10] and conservative-liberal[11] political party in Switzerland. It was one of the major parties in Switzerland until its merger with the smaller Liberal Party, to form FDP.The Liberals on 1 January 2009.

The FDP was formed in 1894 from the Radicals, who had dominated Swiss politics since the 1830s, standing in opposition to the Catholic conservatives, and who from the creation of the federal state in 1848 until 1891 formed the federal government.

The FDP remained dominant until the introduction of proportional representation in 1919. From 1945 to 1987, it alternated with the Social Democratic Party to be the largest party. In 1959, the party took two seats in the magic formula. The party declined in the 1990s and 2000s (decade), as it was put under pressure by the Swiss People's Party. In response, the party formed closer relations with the smaller Liberal Party, leading to their formal merger in 2009.


  • History 1
  • Popular support 2
  • List of party Presidents 3
  • See also 4
  • Footnotes 5
  • External links 6


The elements 'liberal', 'radical' and freisinnig (an obsolete German word for 'liberal',[12] or literally "free thinking"[4]) in the party's name originate from the conflicts during the period of Swiss Restoration between the Catholic-conservative cantons and the liberal cantons. This conflict led to the foundation of the Swiss federal state in 1848 after the victory of the predominantly Protestant and liberal cantons over the conservative and Catholic ones in the Sonderbund war.

From 1848 until 1891, the Federal Council was composed entirely of Radicals. The radical movement of the restoration was anti-clerical,[5] and stood in opposition to the Catholic Conservative Party. They were otherwise heterogeneous, including and classical liberal 'Liberals', federalist 'Radicals', and social liberal 'Democrats': placing the radical movement on the 'left' of the political spectrum. It was not until the rise of the Social Democratic Party in the early 20th century that the FDP found itself on the centre-right.

The FDP was the dominant party until the 1919 election, when the introduction of proportional representation led to a leap in the representation of the Social Democrats. In 1959, the Free Democrats joined the other major parties in agreeing the 'magic formula' to divide up the seats of the Federal Council, with the FDP permanently receiving two of the seven seats.

After the federal election 2003, lawmakers of FDP and Liberal Party formed a common parliamentary group in the Federal Assembly. In June 2005, they strengthened their cooperation by founding the Radical and Liberal Union[13] They merged on 1 January 2009 to form FDP.The Liberals.

Popular support

In 2003, it held 36 mandates (out of 200) in the Swiss National Council (first chamber of the Swiss parliament); 14 (out of 46) in the second chamber and 2 out of 7 mandates in the Swiss Federal Council (executive body). By 2005, it held 27,2% of the seats in the Swiss Cantonal governments and 19,7% in the Swiss Cantonal parliaments (index "BADAC", weighted with the population and number of seats). At the last legislative elections, 22 October 2007, the party won 15.6% of the popular vote and 31 out of 200 seats.[14]

List of party Presidents

Name Canton Years
1st Christian Friedrich Göttisheim Basel-Stadt 1894–1896
2nd Ernst Brenner Basel-Stadt 1896–1897
3rd Johannes Stössel Zurich 1897–1898
4th Johann Hirter Bern 1898–1903
5th Paul Scherrer Basel-Stadt 1904–1906
6th Walter Bissegger Zurich 1907–1910
7th Camille Decoppet Vaud 1911–1912
8th Félix Bonjour Vaud 1912–1913
9th Emil Lohner Bern 1914–1918
10th Robert Schöpfer Solothurn 1919–1923
11th Albert Meyer Zurich 1923–1929
12th Hermann Schüpbach Bern 1929–1934
13th Ernest Béguin Neuchâtel 1934–1940
14th Max Wey Luzern 1940–1948
15th Aleardo Pini Ticino 1948–1954
16th Eugen Dietschi Basel-Stadt 1954–1960
17th Nello Celio Ticino 1960–1964
18th Pierre Glasson Fribourg 1964–1968
19th Henri Schmitt Geneva 1968–1974
20th Fritz Honegger Zurich 1974–1977
21st Yann Richter Neuchâtel 1978–1984
22nd Bruno Hunziker Aargau 1984–1989
23rd Franz Steinegger Uri 1989–2001
24th Gerold Bührer Schaffhausen 2001–2002
25th Christiane Langenberger Vaud 2002–2004
26th Rolf Schweiger Zug 2004
28th Marianne Kleiner Appenzell Innerrhoden 2004–2005
28th Fulvio Pelli Ticino 2005–2009

See also


  1. ^ Switzerland: Selected Issues (EPub). International Monetary Fund. 10 June 2005. p. 97.  
  2. ^ Damir Skenderovic (2009). The Radical Right in Switzerland: Continuity and Change, 1945-2000. Berghahn Books. p. 156.  
  3. ^ Kriesi, Hanspeter; Bernhard, Laurent (2011). The Context of the Campaigns. Political Communication in Direct Democratic Campaigns: Enlightening or Manipulating? (Palgrave Macmillan). p. 20. 
  4. ^ a b Lublin, David (2014). Minority Rules: Electoral Systems, Decentralization, and Ethnoregional Party Success. Oxford University Press. pp. 232–233. 
  5. ^ a b Thompson, Wayne C., ed. (2014). "Switzerland". Western Europe 2014 (Rowman & Littlefield). p. 242. 
  6. ^
    • "FDP. The Liberals". Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
    • Roberts, Geoffrey K.; Hogwood, Patricia, eds. (1997). European Politics Today. Manchester University Press. p. 383. 
    • Lansford, Tom, ed. (2013). "Switzerland". Political Handbook of the World 2013 (CQ Press/SAGE). pp. 1400–1401. 
  7. ^ Mines Action Canada; The Monitor, Mines Action Canada. Cluster Munition Monitor 2011. Monitor. pp. 236–.  
  8. ^ Erik Lundsgaarde (5 December 2012). The Domestic Politics of Foreign Aid. Routledge. pp. 105–.  
  9. ^ Edgar Grande; Martin Dolezal; Marc Helbling; Dominic Höglinger (31 July 2012). Political Conflict in Western Europe. Cambridge University Press. p. 100.  
  10. ^ Jan-Erik Lane; Svante O. Ersson (1999). Politics and Society in Western Europe. SAGE Publications. p. 101.  
  11. ^ Hans Slomp (2011). Europe, a Political Profile: An American Companion to European Politics. ABC-CLIO. pp. 489–.  
  12. ^ "PONS Online Dictionary German-English". 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "New alliance counters left-right polarisation - swissinfo". 
  14. ^ "Nationalrat 2007". 

External links

  • in German
  • in French
  • in Italian
  • Young Liberals Switzerland official site of the youth branch, called jungfreisinnige schweiz (in German/French)
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