Liberal Democrats

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Liberal Democrats,

British political party created in 1988 by the merger of the Liberal partyLiberal party,
former British political party, the dominant political party in Great Britain for much of the period from the mid-1800s to World War I. Origins
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 with the Social Democratic partySocial Democratic party
(SDP), former British political party founded in 1981 to offer a centrist alternative to the more extreme positions of the then ruling Conservative party on the right and the opposition Labour party on the left.
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; the party was initially called the Social and Liberal Democratic party. The Social Democratic party, which was formed in 1981 by politically centrist members of the Labour partyLabour party,
British political party, one of the two dominant parties in Great Britain since World War I. Origins

The Labour party was founded in 1900 after several generations of preparatory trade union politics made possible by the Reform Bills of 1867 and 1884,
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, joined with the Liberals in 1981 in an electoral alliance, and in 1983 they won 23 seats in the House of Commons. In 1987 the alliance won 22 seats, and the next year the parties merged. In the 2001 and 2005 parliamentary elections the Liberal Democrats won 52 and 62 seats respectively. The 2005 result was the largest number won by the group since the predecessor Liberals gained 158 seats in 1924. Although the party lost several seats in the 2010 elections (despite increasing its overall share of the vote), it entered the government in coalition with the Conservatives, who had secured only a plurality. Nonetheless, the party remains something of a minor party in British politics, its centrist position threatened by Tony BlairBlair, Tony
(Anthony Charles Lynton Blair), 1953–, British politician, b. Edinburgh. An Oxford-educated lawyer, he was first elected to Parliament in 1983 as the Labour party candidate from a district in N England.
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's movement of the Labour party away from socialist positions in the 1990s and David CameronCameron, David William Duncan
, 1966–, British political leader, b. London. Educated at Eton and Oxford, he worked for the Conservative party's research department beginning in 1988, became an adviser to two high-ranking government ministers, and headed corporate
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's moderation of the Conservative party in the 2000s. Its ability to win seats also has been hampered by Britain's lack of proportional representation. Although the party secured a referendum on an alternative voting method through its participation in a coalition with the Conservatives, voters rejected the proposal in 2011. Nick CleggClegg, Nick
(Nicholas William Peter Clegg), 1967–, British politician, grad. Cambridge (M.A., 1989), College of Europe, Bruges, Belgium (M.A., 1992). Of British, Russian, and Dutch descent, he worked for the European Commission (1994–99) before he entered politics.
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 became party leader in 2007, but stepped down in 2015 after the party suffered large losses in seats and vote share. Tim Farron succeeded Clegg as party leader.
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