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Liberal Democrats (UK)

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The Liberal Democrats ("Lib Dems") are a politically liberal and social democratic political party based in the United Kingdom.

The party was formed in 1988 by a merger of the Liberal Party, and the short lived Social Democratic Party, (the two parties had already been in an alliance for some years). At the time of the merger, in 1988, the party was named the Social and Liberal Democrats (SLD). It changed to the current name in 1989.

In recent United Kingdom general elections they have emerged the third most popular party behind the Conservatives and Labour. Over the course of the last five elections they (or their precursor alliance) gained over 20% of the national vote in each of the first two, but fell slightly short of that mark in 1992, 1997 and 2001. Owing to the operation of the first past the post electoral system, the number of MPs they gained was disproportionately small especially in the years in which their popular electoral support was greatest.

The Liberal Democrats are a more significant force in local government, with 27 councils under Liberal Democrat majority control, and Lib Dems in joint control of many others. They are coalition partners with Labour in the Scottish Parliament.

The Liberal Democrats' constitution speaks of "a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals". To this end:

They are currently led by Charles Kennedy. He replaced Paddy Ashdown, who had become leader in 1988. The party's first (interim) leaders were David Steel (who had been leader of the Liberals since 1976) and Robert Maclennan (who had become SDP leader in August 1987).

The Liberal Democrats are a member party of the Liberal International.

See also:

Leaders of the Liberal Democrats, 1988-Present

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