Backgrounder: Major British political parties in May 6 election (2)

16:39, May 05, 2010      

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Conservative Party

The Conservative Party is Britain's main opposition party. David Cameron has been its leader since December 2005.

Founded in 1679 and formerly known as the Tory Party, it changed to its current name in 1833. It was in power for four consecutive terms from 1979 to 1997.

Conservative Party supporters are mainly from the business community and wealthy classes. The party advocates free market economy, strict control of the money supply, reduction of public expenditure, low inflation, restriction of trade union rights and strengthening of "law and order." In recent years, the party has been advocating "compassionate conservatism" which focuses on education, health care, poverty and other social issues.

In foreign policy, the party emphasizes maintaining British sovereignty and opposes a so-called "federal Europe," the EU Constitution and British entry into the eurozone. But it also stresses that Britain should play an active role within the EU. At present, it has about 300,000 members.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democratic Party was formed in March 1988 by major factions of the former Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party. Its current leader is Nick Clegg.

The party adopts a strategy to maintain cooperative relations with the Labour Party to promote a proportional representation system in the elections of the lower house and local elections.

In public service, social justice, environmental protection and other issues, the Liberal Democratic Party takes a more aggressive approach than the Labour Party.

Its domestic agenda includes eliminating local taxes, improving housing and the environment, increasing pensions, providing more support for vulnerable social groups, and reducing government waste and bureaucracy.

In foreign policy, the party oppose Britain's participation in the Iraq war, and supports the European Constitution and Britain's entry into the eurozone. Its present membership is about 70,000.

Source: Xinhua
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