Free Democratic Party

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The Free Democratic Party (Freie Demokratische Partei, or FDP) was created in 1948 under the chairmanship of Theodor Heuss, who served as the first president of the Federal Republic, from 1949 to 1959. The party's founders wanted the FDP to revive the liberal party tradition of pre-World War II Germany. Although there was some initial debate over what was meant by "liberal," the party did articulate a political philosophy distinct from that of the two major parties. Unlike the SPD, it supported private enterprise and disavowed any socialist leaning, and unlike the CDU/CSU, it envisioned a strictly secular path for itself.

The FDP has been in government for most of Germany's post war history, joining either the CDU/CSU or the SPD to form a coalition government. This party considers itself to be a political corrective in its partnership with the more important "Volksparteien" (people's parties), be it the CDU or the SPD. Despite averaging only 9.6% of the vote in national elections, the FDP has held over 20 percent of the cabinet posts during its time in government.

In the 2002 national elections, the FDP won 47 seats in the Bundestag.

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External Links

Free Democratic Party website (in German)

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