Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE): Formation, Characteristics & Political Standing

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  • 0:02 Alliance
  • 0:30 History
  • 2:08 Politics
  • 4:43 Performance
  • 5:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we'll explore the European political party called the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. We'll discuss its history and performance, as well as its current political stances.

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

Being in the middle of things can be both good and bad. Sometimes being in the center is good, like when your friends get in an argument and you can avoid getting involved. Other times, it's not so great, like when you're crammed into the middle seat of a crowded airplane. The same is true in politics, as the centrist Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party knows all too well. Their centrist politics makes them a prime candidate as a partner in a governing coalition, while at the same time discouraging the development of a highly motivated, firebrand base for the party.


Nonetheless, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE) is one of the oldest political parties in Europe, claiming various liberal, centrist groups as its forerunners. For example, the ALDE shares many values and ideological principles with the Group of Liberals and Allies, which was founded in 1953. However, it should be noted that the ALDE is not the only current party to claim parties like these as their predecessors.

The ALDE itself was not formed until the mid-1970s in preparation for the first direct elections to the European Parliament in 1979. Prior to the elections, 14 national parties from several European nations met in Stuttgart in 1976 and founded the Liberal and Democratic Group (LD). The fledgling party finished fifth in European voting, winning 9.8% of the vote and 40 seats in the 410-seat European Parliament. Despite this relatively poor showing, the LD's centrist politics made it the consensus choice as the arbiter of Parliament, and LD member Simone Veil was elected as the European Parliament's first president.

Afterward, the party went through several name changes as it added new member parties, though it never wavered from its centrist, slightly left of center political values. In 1985, for example, the LD became the Liberal and Democratic Reformist Group (or LDR), which it remained until 1994, when its name was changed again to the European Liberal Democratic and Reform Party. It became its current manifestation, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, in 2004.


As with any organization that falls firmly in the political center, the ALDE prefers policies that most Europeans agree with at least a little bit. For example, the ALDE firmly believes the European Parliament must expand civil liberties and the fundamental rights of Europeans. Any restrictions on European freedom - even those in the name of safety - attack the basic rights of European citizens, according to the ALDE. In order to combat this possibility, the ALDE believes that something akin to a basic European Constitution needs to be created to safeguard all the rights and liberties of all Europeans in a single document, which until now have been granted and guaranteed on a piecemeal basis.

The ALDE also considers itself one of the leading parties on environmental issues, claiming it was concerned about the environment in the 1970s and 1980s before other European parties sincerely took up the issue. The ALDE believes strongly that some form of carbon tax must be implemented in order to ensure that greenhouse gases are reduced.

The ALDE argues that the European Union (EU) should lead the way by first implementing a carbon tax, and then further encouraging the rest of the world to follow suit. In addition, the ALDE believes the EU should encourage the growth of green industry and businesses by investing in green technology, which will not only reduce greenhouse gases and pollution, but also encourage the growth of new industries.

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