Conservative Party

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Conservative Party

See also conservative political parties for a more complete list of parties that support conservative ideas without necessarily using the word "conservative" in their name.

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Progressive Conservative Party of Canada

Logo of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1993.

The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada (PC) (French: Parti progressiste-conservateur du Canada) (1942–2003) was a Canadian political party with a centre-right stance on economic issues and a centrist stance on social issues.

The party began as the Conservative Party in 1867, became Canada's first governing party under Sir John A. Macdonald, and for years was either the governing party or the largest opposition party. The party changed its name to the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in late 1942. In 2003, the party membership voted to dissolve the party and join the new Conservative Party of Canada being formed with the members of the Canadian Alliance.

Several Senators of the Senate of Canada who opposed the merger continue to sit as members of a "Progressive Conservative" caucus, and the conservative parties in most Canadian provinces still use the Progressive Conservative name. Some PC Party members formed the new Progressive Canadian Party, which has attracted only marginal support.

Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, was originally a member of the Conservative or "Blue" Party. But in advance of confederation in 1867, the Conservative Party took in a large number of right-wing leaning members who defected from the Liberal or "Red" Party. Thereafter, the Conservative Party was the "Liberal-Conservative" (in French, "Libéral-Conservateur") Party until the turn of the twentieth century.

The federal Tories governed Canada for over forty of the country's first seventy years of existence. However, the party spent the majority of its history in opposition as the nation's number two federal party, behind the Liberals. From 1896 to 1993, the Tories only formed government five times--from 1911 to 1921, from 1930 to 1935, from 1957 to 1963, from 1979 to 1980 and from 1984 to 1993. The party did, however, have the distinction of being the only Canadian party to win more than 200 seats in an election--a feat it accomplished twice, in 1958 and 1984.

The party suffered a decade-long decline following the 1993 federal election, and was formally dissolved on December 7, 2003, when it merged with the Canadian Alliance to form the new Conservative Party. The Progressive Conservative caucus last officially met in early 2004.

Between the party's founding in 1867, and its adoption of the "Progressive Conservative" name in 1942, the party changed its name several times. It was most commonly known as the Conservative Party.

Several loosely-associated provincial Progressive Conservative parties continue to exist in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. As well, a small rump of Senators opposed to the merger continue to sit in Parliament as Progressive Conservatives. The Yukon association of the party was renamed the Yukon Party in 1990. The British Columbia Progressive Conservative Party changed its name back to the British Columbia Conservative Party in 1991. Saskatchewan's Progressive Conservative Party effectively ceased to exist in 1997, when the Saskatchewan Party was formed primarily from former PC Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) with a few Liberal Party MLAs joining them.

The party adopted the "Progressive Conservative" party name in 1942 when Manitoba Premier John Bracken, a long-time leader of that province's Progressive Party, agreed to become leader of the Conservatives on condition that the party add Progressive to its name. Despite the name change, most former Progressive supporters continued to support the Liberal Party or the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, and Bracken's leadership of the Conservative Party came to an end in 1948. Many Canadians still simply referred to the party as "the Conservatives".

A major weakness of the party since 1885 was its inability to win support in Quebec, estranged significantly by that year's execution of Louis Riel. This problem was exacerbated in the Conscription Crisis of 1917. Even though the Quebec Conservative Party dominated politics in that province for the first thirty years of Confederation at both the federal and provincial levels, in the 20th Century the party was never able to be a force in provincial politics, being out of power starting in 1897, and ultimately dissolved into the Union Nationale in 1935 which took power in 1936 under Maurice Duplessis.

It never fully recovered from the fragmentation of Mulroney's broad coalition in the late 1980s resulting from English Canada's failure to ratify the Meech Lake Accord. Immediately prior to its merger with the Canadian Alliance, it held only 15 of 301 seats in the Canadian House of Commons and never held more than 20 seats in Parliament between 1994 and 2003.

The Progressive Conservative Party was generally centre-right in its political ideology. From 1867 on, the party was identified with Protestant and, in Quebec, Roman Catholic social values, British Imperialism, Canadian Nationalism, and constitutional centralism. This was highly successful up until 1920, and to that point in history, the party was the most successful federal party in the Dominion.

As such, Canadian conservatism has historically more closely resembled that which was practised in the United Kingdom and, to an extent, Europe, than in the United States. The "Tory" approach worked well for the party up until 1917, when, as was common amongst 19th century conservative movements, Canadian Tories opposed the rollback of government intervention in social and economic matters advocated by the liberals of the era. In contrast to so-called "American conservative" counterparts, however, they did not undertake as dramatic an ideological turnaround in the first half of the 20th century by continuing to follow mercantilism and nascent notions of the welfare state.

Like their Liberal rivals, the party defined itself as a "big tent", welcoming a broad variety of members who supported relatively loosely-defined goals. Unlike the Liberal Party, there was a long history of ongoing factionalism within this tent. This factionalism arose from the party's lack of electoral success, and because the party often reached out to particular political groups in order to garner enough support to topple the Liberals. These groups usually remained semi-autonomous blocs within the party, such as Quebec nationalists and western Canadian Reformers in the 1980s. In later years, observers generally grouped the PC Party's core membership into two camps, "Red Tories" and "Blue Tories".

Red Tories tend to be traditionally conservative, that is, "Tory" in the Disraelian sense in social policy, placing a high value on the principles of noblesse oblige, communitarianism, and One Nation Conservatism — and were thus seen as moderate (in the context of classical economic thought) in their economic policy. For most of their history they were trade protectionists, engaging in free-trade economics in only a limited fashion, as in Empire Free-Trade. Historically they comprised the largest bloc of the original Canadian Conservative party. Notable Red Tories include Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Robert Borden, John Farthing, George Grant, John Diefenbaker, E. Davie Fulton, Robert Stanfield, Dalton Camp, W.L. Morton, William Davis, Joe Clark, and Flora MacDonald.

Blue Tories, on the other hand, were originally members of the Tory elite drawn from the commercial classes in Montreal and Toronto. Prior to World War II, they were generally conservative in social policy, and classically liberal in economic policy. From 1964 on, this cadre came to identify more with neo-liberal influences in US Republican Party, as espoused by Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, and the Thatcherite leadership in the British Conservative Party, as represented by Sir Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher. They have come to be termed – in the Canadian lexicon – as neoconservatives. However there are also Blue Tories who identify strongly with the Monarchy in Canada and other traditional institutions.

From 1891 until the party's dissolution, Red Tories generally dominated the highest rungs of the party and its leadership. The emerging neoconservatives of the 1970s were significantly reduced in numbers in the party by the late 1980s, and many of the disaffected drifted towards neo-liberalism and single-issue parties with a neoconservative bent, such as the Reform Party of Canada. When the PC party held power at the federal level, it never truly embraced Reaganomics and its crusade against "big government" as vociferously as was done in the USA and the UK.

Canadian neoconservatives lean towards radical individualism and economic liberalism. Support for the Canadian Alliance and its predecessor the Reform Party of Canada derived principally from this group, and that support carried forward into the new Conservative Party of Canada. The success of the neoconservative movement in appropriating the label "Conservative" has brought into debate the very definition of conservatism in Canada today. Although adhering to economic philosophies similar to those originally advanced by 19th century liberals (known confusingly as both neoliberalism and neoconservatism), the Canadian Alliance agreed to the name "Conservative Party of Canada" for the new party in order to market themselves better to the electorate. They have also retained the appellation "Tory", despite the fact that there is little evidence that they embrace any of the principles that are seen as core to the Tory tradition in Canada since 1796.

After an election defeat in 1942,a group of younger Conservatives from the Conservative Party of Canada decide to meet in Port Hope to develop a new Conservative policy they hoped would bring them out of the political "wilderness". The participants, known as the Port Hopefuls, developed a program including many Conservative dogmas such as support for free enterprise and conscription. Yet the charter also included more "radical" goals, such as full-employment, low-cost housing, trade union rights, as well as a whole range of social security measures, including a government financed medicare system.

Although many Conservatives rejected the charter, the charter still influenced party decisions. Delegates at the convention drafted John Bracken as leader, who was not even a member of the party. Bracken supported the Port Hope Charter and insisted the party register this policy shift by changing its name to the Progressive Conservative Party.

In the early days of the Canadian confederation, the party supported a mercantilist approach to economic development: export-led growth with high import barriers to protect local industry. The party was staunchly monarchist and supported playing a large role within the British Empire. It was seen by some French Canadians as supporting a policy of cultural assimilation.

The Conservative Party dominated Canadian politics for the nation's first 30 years of existence. In general, Canada's political history has consisted of Tories alternating power with the Liberals, albeit often in minority governments supported by smaller parties.

After a long period of Liberal dominance following the Tories ill-fated depression era mandate from 1930-35, John Diefenbaker won a massive electoral victory for the Tories in 1958. Diefenbaker was able to win most of the parliamentary seats in Western Canada, much of those in Ontario, and, with the support of the Union Nationale provincial government, a large number in Quebec. Diefenbaker attempted to pursue a policy of distancing Canada from the United States. His cabinet split over Diefenbaker's refusal of American demands that Canada accept nuclear warheads for Bomarc missiles based in North Bay, Ontario, and La Macaza, Quebec. This split contributed to the Tory government's defeat at the hands of Lester Pearson's Liberals in the 1963 election.

Diefenbaker remained Progressive Conservative leader until 1967, when increasing unease at his reactionary policies, authoritarian leadership, and perceived unelectability led to the 1967 leadership convention where Nova Scotia Premier Robert Stanfield was elected out of a field of eleven candidates that included Diefenbaker and Manitoba Premier Duff Roblin.

By the late 1960s, following Quebec's Quiet Revolution, the Progressive Conservatives recognized the need to increase their appeal to Canada's francophone population. At the same time, the Tories finally began their move away from mercantilism towards a neoliberal platform. Both movements culminated with Brian Mulroney becoming prime minister after the election of 1984. He led the Tories to a record 211 seats, and a majority of seats in every province.

Mulroney had declared himself an opponent to free trade with the United States during the 1983 leadership campaign. But a growing continentalist sentiment among Canadian business leaders and the impact of the "Reagan Revolution" on Canadian conservative thought led Mulroney to embrace free trade. His government endorsed the recommendation of the 1985 Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada that Canada pursue a free trade deal with the United States.

Traditionally, it had been the Liberal Party that held a continentalist position and the Conservatives who opposed free trade with the United States in favour of economic links with Britain. With the dissolution of the British Empire and the economic nationalism of the Liberal Party under Pierre Trudeau, the traditional positions of the two parties became reversed. It was with this background that Mulroney fought and won the 1988 election on the issue of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

Mulroney also made a promise to Quebecers, claiming that he would reform the constitution so that Quebec would be willing to endorse the Constitution, which it did not in 1982, unlike Canada's other provinces. To do this, Mulroney promised that he would give Quebec distinct society status and greater autonomy. This helped Mulroney garner substantial support from Quebec nationalists including Lucien Bouchard who joined the Conservatives claiming that providing Quebec with autonomy would be acceptable for Quebec to remain within Canada.

Although the Progressive Conservative Party switched to neoliberalism, the party did retain its social progressive policies unlike other parties which advocated neoliberalism. Mulroney and the government pursued an aggressive environmental agenda under the aide of then-environmental policy advisor, present-day Green Party leader Elizabeth May. Mulroney and members of the U.S. government sparred over action on acid rain. In the end Mulroney managed to convince U.S. President Ronald Reagan to sign an acid rain treaty, to reduce acid rain. Mulroney was recognized for his strong environmental stances recently, being named the Greenest Canadian Prime Minister by a study group.

The second major factor leading to the Mulroney government's demise was that the party's base in Quebec came from Quebec nationalists, who withdrew their support after the failure of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Constitutional Accords. Many Quebec Tories, including a number of Members of Parliament, left the party to form the Bloc Québécois with like-minded Liberals.

The third major factor was the rise of "western alienation" in the four provinces of western Canada as a result of attempts by both Tories and Liberals to woo Quebec. Western Canadians turned their support to the Reform Party of Canada and later to its successor, the Canadian Alliance.

Following Mulroney's resignation, his successor as Tory leader and as prime minister was Kim Campbell, who led the party into the disastrous election of 1993. The Conservatives went from being the majority party to holding only two seats in the House of Commons, which was not enough to maintain official party status despite garnering 16% of the popular vote. It was the worst defeat ever suffered for a governing party at the federal level; the 151-seat loss far exceeded the 95-seats lost by the Liberals in 1984. The party's western supporters transferred virtually en masse to Reform, most of its Quebec supporters split between the sovereigntist Bloc Québécois and the Liberals, and most of its Ontario and Atlantic supporters bolted for the Liberals. Even though the Conservatives finished third in the popular vote (just percentage points behind Reform), their support was spread out across the entire country and was not concentrated in enough areas to translate into more seats. By contrast, the Bloc managed to capture Official Opposition status with 54 seats despite running candidates only in Quebec, while Reform finished third in the seat count despite being virtually nonexistent east of Manitoba.

Campbell herself was defeated, as was every member of the Cabinet except Jean Charest, whom Campbell had defeated in the election to succeed Mulroney. Campbell resigned as party leader in December, and Charest, as the only remaining member of the previous Cabinet, was quickly appointed interim leader and confirmed in the post in 1995. Charest led the party back to official party status in the 1997 election winning 20 seats, with the exception of one seat in Ontario, the rest of the seats were all in the Maritimes and Quebec. However, the PCs never won more than 20 seats again, and only two west of Quebec (not counting by-elections and switches from other parties).

The rise of the Canadian Alliance was doubtless damaging to the Tories, though there remains some debate as to the precise degree. Many observers argue that from 1993 to 2003 the "conservative" vote was split between the two parties, allowing Liberal candidates to win ridings formerly considered to be Tory strongholds. This assessment led to the growth of the United Alternative movements of the late 1990s. Others insisted that a legitimate ideological gulf existed between the more ideological Alliance and the more moderate Red Tory-influenced PC Party, pointing to surveys that indicated many Tory voters would rather select the Liberals as their second choice rather than the Alliance. This seemed to be particularly born out in Ontario. The Liberals won all but one seat in that province in 1993 and 1997, and all but two in 2000--an era that was dominated by the provincial Tories. This was largely because many former bellwether ridings in suburban Toronto (known as "the 905," after its area code) turned almost solidly Liberal for most of the 1990s at the federal level while supporting the Tories at the provincial level.

Charest stepped down from the leadership in 1998 to become leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec. Former leader Joe Clark returned to the post in a vote in which all party members were eligible to cast ballots, instead of a traditional leadership convention. A point system allocated each riding 100 points to be distributed among the candidates by proportional representation according to votes cast by party members in the riding. (This same system was used by the Conservative Party of Canada in 2004.) In the 2000 election Clark was able to garner the 12 seats necessary for official party status, but no more.

Clark realized that as long as the centre-right vote was divided, there was no chance of dislodging the Liberals. However, he wanted a merger on his terms. He got his chance in 2001, when several dissident Alliance MPs, the most prominent one being Alliance deputy leader and party matriarch Deborah Grey, left the Alliance caucus. The dissidents felt that Alliance leader Stockwell Day hadn't learned from mistakes made in the last election. While some of them rejoined the Alliance later, seven of them, led by Chuck Strahl of British Columbia and including Grey, refused and formed the Democratic Representative Caucus The DRC quickly entered a coalition with the Progressive Conservatives, which lasted until 2002 when Stephen Harper ousted Day as Alliance leader. Harper wanted a closer union with the PCs, but Clark turned the offer down, and all but two of the DRC members rejoined the Alliance. One of the two, Inky Mark, eventually joined the PCs. Two by-election victories later in 2002 increased the PC caucus to 15 members and fourth place in the Commons. However, Clark was unable to gain any ground in Ontario and resigned on August 6, 2002.

Clark's successor, Peter MacKay, made an explicit promise that he would not permit a merger with the Alliance while he ran for leadership; however, he proceeded to negotiate a merger with the Alliance, which he announced had occurred on October 15, 2003. The two parties, so it seemed, united to form a new party called the Conservative Party of Canada. The union was ratified on December 5 and December 6 in a process conducted by each of the parties, and the new Conservative Party was formally registered on December 7. The merger prompted Clark to remark: "Some equate it to a death in the family. I regard it rather as a death of the family On March 20, 2004, former Alliance leader Harper was elected leader of the new party and appointed MacKay as his deputy.

Following the merger, a rump Progressive Conservative caucus remained in Parliament, consisting of individuals who declined to join the new Conservative Party. In the House of Commons, Joe Clark, André Bachand and John Herron sat as PC members.

In the 2004 election, Bachand and Clark did not run for re-election, and Herron ran as a Liberal, losing to Rob Moore in his riding of Fundy—Royal. Scott Brison, who had joined the Liberal caucus immediately upon departing the Conservative Party, was reelected as a Liberal in the 2004 election.

In the Senate, William Doody, Lowell Murray and Norman Atkins also declined to join the new party, and continued to sit as Progressive Conservative senators. On March 24, 2005, Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed nine new senators, two of whom, Nancy Ruth and Elaine McCoy, were designated as Progressive Conservatives. Thus there may be Progressive Conservative senators until 2021 when McCoy, the youngest of the five, attains the mandatory retirement age of 75, or later if subsequent senators designate themselves Progressive Conservatives. Nancy Ruth has since left to sit with the Conservative Party. Adding the death of Senator Doody on December 27, 2005, this reduced the number of PC Senators to three.

After being expelled from the Conservative Party caucus in June 2007, Nova Scotia MP Bill Casey designated himself as an "independent progressive conservative".

On January 9, 2004, a group claiming to be loyal to the Progressive Conservative Party and opposed to the merger, which they characterized as an Alliance takeover, filed application with the Chief Electoral Officer to register a party called the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. The application was refused on the grounds that the name could no longer be utilized. The group resubmitted with the name Progressive Canadian Party, and a new "PC Party" was recognized by Elections Canada on March 26. It secured sufficient backing to be registered as an official party on May 29. It is led by former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Sinclair Stevens of Ontario.

The Progressive Canadian party aims to be perceived as the successor party to the Progressive Conservatives. However, it is not clear how broad its support is among former Progressive Conservatives. In particular, no prominent anti-merger Progressive Conservatives such as Joe Clark or David Orchard are associated with the Progressive Canadian party, nor are any sitting MPs or senators. The most prominent member to join is former MP and junior cabinet minister, Heward Grafftey, who polled near or below Craig Chandler in the final PC Party leadership race.

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Conservative Party of Canada

Conservative Party of Canada.svg

The Conservative Party of Canada (French: Parti conservateur du Canada), colloquially known as the Tories, is a major political party in Canada, formed by the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the PC Party. The party is positioned in the center-right of the Canadian political spectrum. The party currently forms the Government of Canada, and is led by the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.

The Conservative Party is political heir to a series of conservative parties that have existed in Canada, beginning with the Liberal-Conservative Party founded in 1854 by Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier. The party later became known simply as the Conservative Party after 1873. Like its historical predecessors and conservative parties in some other commonwealth nations (such as the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom), members of the present-day Conservative Party of Canada are sometimes referred to as "Tories". The modern Conservative Party of Canada is also legal heir to the heritage of the historical conservative parties by virtue of assuming the assets and liabilities of the former Progressive Conservative Party upon the merger of 2003.

The first incarnations of the Conservative Party in Canada were quite different from the Conservative Party of today, especially on economic issues. The early Conservatives were known to espouse economic protectionism and British imperialism, by emphasizing Canada's ties to the United Kingdom while vigorously opposing free trade with the United States; free trade being a policy which, at the time, had strong support from the ranks of the Liberal Party of Canada. The Conservatives also sparred with the Liberal Party due to its connections with French Canadian nationalists including Henri Bourassa who wanted Canada to distance itself from Britain, and demanded that Canada recognize that it had two nations, English Canada and French Canada, connected together through a common history. The Conservatives would go on with a popular slogan "one nation, one flag, one leader" and supported policies such as the assimilation of French Canadians, aboriginals, and immigrants.

The Conservative Party's popular support waned (particularly in western Canada) during difficult economic times from the 1920s to 1940s, as it was seen by many in the west as an eastern establishment party which ignored the needs of the citizens of Western Canada. Westerners of multiple political convictions including small-"c" conservatives saw the party as being uninterested in the economically-unstable Prairie regions of the west at the time and instead holding close ties with the business elite of Ontario and Quebec. As a result of western alienation both the dominant Conservative and Liberal parties were challenged in the west by the rise of a number of protest parties including the Progressive Party of Canada, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), and the Social Credit Party of Canada. The Progressives once outpaced the Conservatives, and, in 1920, became Official Opposition, though soon after, the Progressive Party folded. Former Progressive leader John Bracken became leader of the Conservative Party in 1942 subject to several conditions, one of which was that the party be renamed the Progressive Conservative Party. Meanwhile, many former supporters of the Progressive Party shifted their support to either the federal CCF or to the federal Liberals. The advancement of the provincially-popular western-based conservative Social Credit Party in federal politics was stalled, in part by the strategic selection of leaders from the west by the Progressive Conservative Party. Conservative leaders such as John Diefenbaker and Joe Clark were seen by many westerners as viable challengers to the Liberals who traditionally had relied on the electorate in Quebec and Ontario for their power base. While none of the various protest parties ever succeeded in gaining significant power federally, was damaging to the Conservative Party throughout its history, and allowed the federal Liberals to win election after election with strong urban support bases in Ontario and Quebec. This historical tendency earned the Liberals the unofficial title often given by some political pundits of being Canada's "natural governing party". Prior to 1984, Canada was seen as having a dominant-party system led by the Liberal Party while Conservative governments therefore were considered by many of these pundits as caretaker governments, doomed to fall once the collective mood of the electorate shifted and the federal Liberal Party eventually came back to power.

In 1984, the Progressive Conservative Party's electoral fortunes made a massive upturn under its new leader, Brian Mulroney, an anglophone Quebecker and former president of the Iron Ore Company of Canada, who mustered a large coalition of westerners aggravated over the National Energy Program of the Liberal government and Quebeckers who were angered over Quebec not having distinct status in the Constitution of Canada signed in 1982. This led to a huge landslide victory for the Progressive Conservative Party. Progressive Conservatives abandoned protectionism which the party had held strongly to in the past and which had aggravated westerners and businesses and fully espoused free trade with the United States and integrating Canada into a globalized economy. This was accomplished with the signing of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement (FTA) of 1989 and much of the key implementation process of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which added Mexico to the Canada-U.S. free trade zone.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, federal conservative politics became split by the creation of a new western-based protest party, the populist and social conservative Reform Party of Canada created by Preston Manning, son of Alberta Social Credit Premier Ernest Manning. The party was very controversial in Canadian politics. It advocated deep decentralization of government power, abolishment of official bilingualism and multiculturalism, democratization of the Canadian Senate, opposed abortion, opposed extending rights to homosexuals and suggested a potential return to capital punishment, and advocated significant privatization of public services. Despite controversial aspects of Reform, Westerners felt betrayed by the federal Conservative Party, seeing it as catering to Quebec and urban Ontario interests over theirs. In 1989, Reform made headlines in the political scene when its first MP, Deborah Grey, was elected in a by-election in Alberta, which was a shock to the PCs which had almost complete electoral dominance over the province for years. Another defining event for western conservatives was when Mulroney accepted the results of an unofficial Senate "election" held in Alberta, which resulted in the appointment of a Reformer, Stanley Waters, to the Senate.

By the 1990s, Mulroney had failed to bring about Senate reform as he had promised (appointing a number of unelected Senators in 1990). As well, social conservatives were dissatisfied with Mulroney's social progressivism. Canadians in general were furious with high unemployment, high debt and deficit, unpopular implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 1991, and the failed constitutional reforms of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords. In 1993, support for the Progressive Conservative Party collapsed, and the party's representation in the House of Commons dropped from an absolute majority of seats to only two seats. The 1993 results were the worst electoral disaster in Canadian history, and the Progressive Conservatives never fully recovered.

In 1993, federal politics became divided regionally. The Liberal Party took Ontario, the Maritimes and the territories, the separatist Bloc Québécois took Quebec, while the Reform Party took Western Canada and became the dominant conservative party in Canada. The problem of the split on the right was accentuated by Canada's single member plurality electoral system, which resulted in numerous seats being won by the Liberal Party, even when the total number of votes cast for P.C. and Reform Party candidates was substantially in excess of the total number of votes cast for the Liberal candidate.

With the right-wing vote split, the Liberal Party won three successive majority governments which led the Reform Party and elements of the Progressive Conservative Party to advocate "uniting the right" which was completed in 2003, when the Canadian Alliance (formerly the Reform Party) and Progressive Conservative parties agreed to merge into the present-day Conservative Party, with the Alliance faction conceding its populist ideals and some social conservative elements.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay and many other high-profile former Progressive Conservatives, including the former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney see the Conservative Party today as a natural evolution of the conservative political movement in Canada. MacKay has suggested that the Conservative Party is a reflection of the reunification of conservative ideologies under a "big tent." MacKay has often said that fractures have been a natural part of the Canadian conservative movement's history since the 1890s and that the merger was a reconstitution of a movement that has existed since the Union of Upper and Lower Canada.

On October 15, 2003, after closed-door meetings were held by the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party, Stephen Harper (then the leader of the Canadian Alliance) and Peter MacKay (then the leader of the Progressive Conservatives) announced the "'Conservative Party Agreement-in-Principle", thereby merging their parties to create the new Conservative Party of Canada. After several months of talks between two teams of "emissaries", consisting of Don Mazankowski, Bill Davis and Loyola Hearn on behalf of the PCs and Ray Speaker Senator Gerry St. Germain and Scott Reid on behalf of the Alliance, the deal came to be.

On December 5, the Agreement-in-Principle was ratified by the membership of the Alliance by a margin of 96% to 4% in a national referendum conducted by postal ballot. On December 6 the PC Party held a series of regional conventions, at which delegates ratified the Agreement-in-Principle by a margin of 90% to 10%. On December 7, 2003, the new party was officially registered with Elections Canada. On March 20, 2004, Stephen Harper was elected leader.

The merger was the culmination of the Canadian "Unite the Right" movement, driven by the desire to present an effective right-wing opposition to the Liberal Party of Canada, to create a new party that would draw support from all parts of Canada and would not split the right-wing vote. The splitting of the right-wing vote contributed to Liberal victories in the 1993 federal election, 1997 federal election and the 2000 election.

The merger process was controversial. David Orchard had a written agreement from Peter MacKay at the 2003 Progressive Conservative Leadership convention excluding any such merger and led an unsuccessful legal challenge to it. Orchard (under the Progressive Conservative party leadership election rules) is still owed at least $70,000 by the newly merged Conservative Party. This debt has been recognized as legitimate by the Conservative Party lawyers; however, its reimbursement is on hold pending the outcome of legal matters between the party and Orchard.

At the time of the merger four sitting Progressive Conservative Members of Parliament — André Bachand, John Herron, former Tory leadership candidate Scott Brison, and former Prime Minister Joe Clark — decided not to join the new Conservative Party caucus, as did retiring PC Party president Bruck Easton. Clark and Brison argued that the party's merger with the Canadian Alliance drove it too far to the right, and away from its historical position in Canadian politics. Brison, at first, voted for and supported the ratification of the Alliance-Tory merger, then crossed the floor to the Liberals . Soon afterward, he was made a parliamentary secretary in Paul Martin's Liberal government, and became a full cabinet minister after the 2004 federal election. Herron also ran as a Liberal candidate in the election, but did not join the Liberal caucus prior to the election. He lost his seat to the new Conservative Party's candidate Rob Moore. Bachand and Clark both retired from Parliament at the end of the session.

One former Alliance MP, former Alliance leadership candidate Keith Martin, also left the party on January 14. He retained his seat in the 2004 election, running under the Liberal banner. In the 38th Parliament (2004-2005), Martin served as parliamentary secretary to Bill Graham, Canada's minister of defence. He was reelected a second time in the 2006 general election.

Additionally, three senators, the late William Doody, Norman Atkins, and Lowell Murray, declined to join the new party and continue to sit in the upper house as a rump caucus of Progressive Conservatives. The Martin Liberals exacerbated the Tory split in the Senate by appointing, in February 2005, provincial Progressive Conservatives Nancy Ruth and Elaine McCoy as senators and additional members of the rump PC Senate caucus. Ms. Ruth, however, later did join the new Conservative party in March 2006.

In the early months of the Conservatives' existence two Conservative MPs also became publicly disgruntled with the leadership, policy, and procedures of the new party. Former Progressive Conservative MP Rick Borotsik became openly critical of the new party's leadership during its initial months of existence and officially retired from politics at the end of the parliamentary session of spring 2004.

Former Canadian Alliance MP Chuck Cadman rejected the new party's riding nomination procedures in March after losing his local riding's Conservative nomination to an outside challenger. His membership in the Conservative party was revoked in late May. Cadman ran as an independent candidate in the federal election of June 2004. He was re-elected as the only independent in the new parliament but died of cancer in July 2005.

Additionally, after the 2004 federal election, Tory Senator Jean-Claude Rivest left the Conservatives to sit as an independent member of the Senate, citing his concerns that the new party was too right-wing and insensitive to Quebec needs and interests.

With 17,296 votes and 56.23% party support, Stephen Harper was chosen as leader of the new party in the March 20, 2004 leadership election, defeating former Ontario provincial PC Cabinet minister Tony Clement (2,887 votes, 9.4%) and former Magna International CEO Belinda Stronach (10,613 votes, 34.54%) on the first ballot.

Some Conservative activists had hoped to recruit former Ontario Premier Mike Harris for the leadership but he declined, as did New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein. Outgoing Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay also announced he would not seek the leadership of the new party as did former Democratic Representative Caucus leader and Canadian Alliance Member of Parliament (MP) Chuck Strahl. Jim Prentice, who had been a candidate in the 2003 PC leadership contest, entered the Conservative leadership race in mid-December but dropped out in mid-January due to an inability to raise funds so soon after his earlier leadership bid.

Two months after Harper's election as national Tory leader, Liberal Party of Canada leader and Prime Minister Paul Martin called a general election for June 28, 2004. However, in the interim between the formation of the new party and the selection of its new leader, factional infighting and investigations into the Sponsorship Scandal significantly reduced the popularity of the governing Liberal Party. This allowed the Conservatives to be more prepared for the race, unlike the 2000 federal election when few predicted the early election call. For the first time since the 1993 federal election, a Liberal government would have to deal with a united conservative front. The Liberals attempted to counter this with an early election call, as this would give the Conservatives less time to consolidate their merger.

During the first half of the campaign, polls showed a rise in support for the new party, leading some pollsters to predict the election of a minority Conservative government. An unpopular provincial budget by Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty hurt the federal Liberals' numbers in Ontario, as did a weak performance from Martin in the leaders' debates. The Liberals managed to narrow the gap and eventually regain momentum by targeting the Conservatives' credibility and motives, hurting their efforts to present a reasonable, responsible and moderate alternative to the governing Liberals.

Several controversial comments were made by Conservative MPs during the campaign. Early on in the campaign, Ontario MP Scott Reid indicated his feelings as Tory language critic that the policy of official bilingualism was unrealistic and needed to be reformed. Alberta MP Rob Merrifield suggested as Tory health critic that women ought to have mandatory family counseling before they choose to have an abortion. BC MP Randy White indicated his willingness near the end of the campaign to use the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution to override the Charter of Rights on the issue of same-sex marriage, and Cheryl Gallant, another Ontario MP, compared abortion to terrorism. The party was also criticized for issuing press releases accusing both Paul Martin and Jack Layton of supporting child pornography, although both releases were recalled within a few hours.

Harper's new Conservatives emerged from the election with a larger parliamentary caucus of 99 MPs while the Liberals were reduced to a minority government of 135 MPs, requiring the Liberals to obtain support from at least twenty-three opposition MPs in order to guarantee the passage of Liberal government legislation. The Conservatives' popular vote, however, was actually lower than the combined Alliance and PC popular vote in the 2000 federal election.

In 2005, some political analysts such as former Progressive Conservative pollster Allan Gregg and Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hébert suggested that the then-subsequent election could result in a Conservative government if the public were to perceive the Tories as emerging from the party's founding convention (then scheduled for March 2005) with clearly defined, moderate policies with which to challenge the Liberals.

The convention provided the public with an opportunity to see the Conservative Party in a new light, appearing to have reduced the focus on its controversial social conservative agenda (although most Conservatives continue to oppose same-sex marriage). It retained its populist appeal by espousing tax cuts, smaller government, a grassroots-oriented democratic reform, and more decentralization by giving the provinces more taxing powers and decision-making authority in joint federal-provincial programs. The party's law and order package was an effort to address the perception of rising homicide rates, which had gone up 12% in 2004. Statistics Canada.

On May 17, 2005, MP Belinda Stronach surprised many when she crossed the floor from the Conservative Party to join the Liberal Party.

In late August and early September 2005, the Tories released ads through Ontario's major television broadcasters that highlighted their policies towards health care, education and child support. The ads each featured Stephen Harper discussing policy with prominent members of his Shadow Cabinet. Some analysts suggested at the time that the Tories would use similar ads in the expected 2006 federal election, instead of focusing their attacks on allegations of corruption in the Liberal government as they did earlier on.

An Ipsos-Reid Poll conducted after the fallout from the first report of the Gomery Commission on the sponsorship scandal showed the Tories practically tied for public support with the governing Liberal Party , and a poll from the Strategic Counsel suggested that the Conservatives were actually in the lead. However, polling two days later showed the Liberals had regained an 8-point lead .

On November 24, 2005, Opposition leader Stephen Harper introduced a motion of no confidence which was passed on November 28, 2005. With the confirmed backing of the other two opposition parties, this resulted in an election on January 23, 2006, following a campaign spanning the Christmas season.

The Conservatives started off the first month of the campaign by making a series of policy-per-day announcements, which included a Goods and Services Tax reduction and a child-care allowance. This strategy was a surprise to many in the news media, as they believed the party would focus on the sponsorship scandal; instead, the Conservative strategy was to let that issue ruminate with voters. The Liberals opted to hold their major announcements after the Christmas holidays; as a result, Harper dominated media coverage for the first few weeks of the campaign and was able "to define himself, rather than to let the Liberals define him". The Conservatives' announcements played to Harper's strengths as a policy wonk , as opposed to in the 2004 election and summer 2005 where he tried to overcome the perception that he was cool and aloof. Though his party showed only modest movement in the polls, Harper's personal approval numbers, which had always trailed his party's significantly, began to rise relatively rapidly.

On December 27, 2005, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced it was investigating Liberal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's office for potentially engaging in insider trading before making an important announcement on the taxation of income trusts. The revelation of the criminal investigation and Goodale's refusal to step aside dominated news coverage for the following week, and it gained further attention when the United States Securities and Exchange Commission announced they would also launch a probe. The income trust scandal distracted public attention from the Liberals' key policy announcements and allowed the Conservatives to refocus on their previous attacks on corruption within the Liberal party. The Tories were leading in the polls by early January 2006, and made a major breakthrough in Quebec where they displaced the Liberals as the second place party (after the Bloc Québécois).

In response to the growing Conservative lead, the Liberals launched negative ads suggesting that Harper had a "hidden agenda", similar to the attacks made in the 2004 election. The Liberal ads did not have the same effect this time as the Conservatives had much more momentum, at one stage holding a ten-point lead. Harper's personal numbers continued to rise and polls found he was considered not only more trustworthy, but also a better potential Prime Minister than Paul Martin. In addition to the Conservatives being more disciplined, media coverage of the Conservatives was also more positive than in 2004. By contrast, the Liberals found themselves increasingly criticized for running a poor campaign and making numerous gaffes.

On January 23, 2006, the Conservatives won 124 seats, compared to 103 for the Liberals. The results made the Conservatives the largest party in the 308-member House of Commons, enabling them to form a minority government. On February 6, Stephen Harper was sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada, along with his Cabinet.

The Federal Accountability Act in response to the sponsorship scandal, President of the Treasury Board, the Honourable John Baird introduced the bill to the Canadian House of Commons on April 11, 2006. The bill was passed in the House of Commons on June 22, 2006, and was granted royal assent on December 13, 2006.

On October 31, 2006, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that the government would begin taxing income trusts in 2011, which backtracked on one of their campaign promises. There had been an increasing number of corporations converting to income trusts which would result in them paying lowered taxes; Flaherty argued that income trusts would cost the government hundreds of millions in lost revenue and shift the burden onto ordinary people. Subsequent to the October 31 announcement by Flaherty, the TSX Capped Energy Trust Index lost 21.8% in market value and the TSX Capped Income Trust Index lost 17.6% in market value by mid November 2006. In contrast, the TSX Capped REIT Index, which is exempt from the 'Tax Fairness Plan', gained 3.2% in market value. According to the Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors, this translates into a permanent loss in savings of $35 billion to Canadian income trust investors. The Conservatives are supported on the matter by the NDP.

On November 22, 2006, Harper introduced his own motion to recognize the Québécois as forming a "nation within a united Canada". Five days later, Harper's motion passed, with a margin of 266–16; all federalist parties, as well as the Bloc Québécois, were formally behind it.

During three by-elections held on September 17, 2007, mayor Denis Lebel captured the seat of Roberval for the Conservatives, taking it from the Bloc, while Bernard Barre ran a close second in Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot. This raised the Conservative total in the House of Commons to 126 members. Some believe these results indicate that the Conservatives have consolidated their position as the main federalist option in Quebec, outside of Montreal.

Conservative Industry Minister Jim Prentice introduced Bill C-61 - a copyright reform bill which was widely criticized for lack of consultations before the bill was introduced. Prentice has stated that he believes C-61 is the right way to go with respect to copyright reform..

On February 27, 2008, allegations surfaced that two Conservative Party officials offered Independent MP Chuck Cadman a million-dollar life insurance policy in exchange for his vote to bring down the Liberal government in a May 2005 budget vote. If the elements of the story are true, the Conservatives' actions may amount to a criminal offence. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is illegal to bribe an MP. An audio tape suggests then-opposition leader Stephen Harper was not only aware of a financial offer to Chuck Cadman but gave it his personal approval.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has been asked to investigate, and confirmed late February 28, 2008 that it is examining a claim from the Liberal Party that the incident violates the Criminal Code's Section 119 provisions on bribery and corruption.

The RCMP searched Conservative party headquarters in Ottawa on April 15, 2008 at the request of Elections Canada. Elections commissioner William Corbett requested the assistance of the Mounties. Elections Canada is probing Conservative party spending for advertisements during the 2006 parliamentary election campaign.

The Conservative Party of Canada, having reached the $18.3-million advertising spending limit set out under the Canada Elections Act, transferred cash to 66 local campaign offices. The local campaigns sent the money back to national party headquarters to buy local television and radio advertisements for their candidates.

Financial agents for at least 35 of those Conservative candidates later asked to be reimbursed for those expenses. Candidates who get 10 per cent of the votes in their riding get a portion of their election expenses returned from Elections Canada. Elections Canada refused, saying the party paid for the ads, not the candidates. The Conservatives maintain they didn't break any rules.

On May 26, 2008, the Conservative Party recognized in a private-members bill the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine as an act of genocide. The famine, orchestrated by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, has been recognized as genocide by a dozen countries—although some historians disagree.

On September 7, 2008 Stephen Harper asked the Governor General of Canada to dissolve parliament. The election took place on 14 October. The Conservative Party returned to government with 143 seats, up from the 127 seats they held at dissolution, but short of the 155 necessary for a majority government. This is the third minority parliament in a row in Canada, and the second for Harper.

The Conservative Party pitched the election as a choice between Harper and the Liberals' Stéphane Dion, who they portrayed as a weak and ineffective leader. The election, however, was rocked midway through by the emerging global financial crisis and this became the central issue through to the end of the campaign. Mr. Harper has been criticised for appearing unresponsive and unsympathetic to the uncertainty Canadians were feeling during the period of financial turmoil, but he countered that the Conservatives were the best party to navigate Canada through the financial crisis, and portrayed the Liberal "Green Shift" plan as reckless and detrimental to Canada's economic well-being.

The Conservative Party released its platform on October 7. The platform states that it will re-introduce a bill similar to C-61.

A new cabinet was sworn in on October 30, 2008.

The party’s second convention was held in Winnipeg in November 2008. This was the party’s first convention since taking power in 2006, and media coverage concentrated on the fact that this time, the convention was not very policy-oriented, and showed the party to be becoming an establishment party.

However, the results of voting at the convention reveal that the party’s populist side still had some life. A resolution that would have allowed the party president a director of the party’s fund was defeated because it also permitted the twelve directors of the fund to become unelected “ex-officio” delegates. Some politically-incorrect policy resolutions were debated, including one to encourage provinces to utilize “both the public and private health sectors”, but most of these were defeated.

After the Conservative Party released their economic statement on November 27, 2008, there was a lot of criticism from Liberal Party, the NDP, and the Bloq Québécois. The opposition parties were against the cuts in public funding for political parties, and they alleged that the Conservatives were not doing enough to stimulate the weakening economy. As a result, these parties formed a coalition and planned to bring down the Conservative government through a non confidence vote. Prime Minister Harper asked the Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, to prorogue parliament so that his party could prepare a new budget with the best interests of Canada in mind. The Governor General granted this request December 4 and parliament was prorogued until January 26, 2009.

The new Conservative Party is an amalgam of two contrasting views about conservatism in Canada. Historically, the Progressive Conservatives touted traditional Red Tory ideals like state funded social programs, rejected closer ties with the United States and attempted to model Canada after centuries-old British institutions. Western Canadian conservatism, embodied in the Canadian Alliance party, was more inspired by Western U.S.-based conservatism; it espoused closer ties with the United States, Blue Tory conservatism, privatization, smaller government as well as reform and overhaul of political institutions (on the American/Australian model) and a decentralized federalism (a limited government in Ottawa with stronger provinces, as also advocated by Brian Mulroney). The new party generally supports a market economy approach to the economic sphere. The Conservative Party also provides a home for a multitude of other conservatives, such as libertarian conservatives, environmental conservatives, Canadian republicans, monarchists, and many others.

Since most of the MPs for the new party as well as the grassroots supporters come from the western provinces, its policy has significant influence from Reform Party of Canada philosophy, even though the new party has shed much of Reform's social conservative image, and is more focused on economic, military, "law and order" and democratic reform/ethics-in-government issues. Unlike the old Progressive Conservatives, it more reflects a strong Blue Tory ideology. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is known as an avid fiscal conservative and a strong supporter for a strong military within the context of a joint command for the Canadian Forces co-operating and co-planning with the U.S. under the umbrella of a central command, modeled after NORAD. He has embraced some social conservative positions, such as opposition to same-sex marriage, though not to same-sex civil unions.

The merger symbolizes the latest chapter in the evolution of conservatism in Canada, as the historical Conservative Party, which was founded by United Empire Loyalists, was vehemently opposed to free trade and further integration with the United States, aiming instead to model Canadian political institutions after British ones. Then under the leadership of Brian Mulroney, the party emphasized market forces in the economy and reached a landmark free-trade deal with the United States. Some critics argue that the current incarnation of conservatism espouses pro-American views, aspires to emulate American capitalism, less government involvement in the economy and more grassroots-oriented Jeffersonian democratic reform.

Being conservative both fiscally and socially, the Conservative Party generally favours lower taxes, smaller government, more decentralization of federal government powers to the provinces modeled after the Meech Lake Accord and a tougher stand on "law and order" issues. It is also opposed to the legalization of cannabis and has had a free vote on whether the House wanted to reopen the issue of same-sex marriage, which was defeated.

The party favors more spending on the military, and harmonizing standards and regulations with those of the United States.

As the successor of the western-based Canadian Alliance, the party also supports reform of the Senate to make it "elected, equal, and effective" (the "Triple-E Senate"). In practice, however, party leader Stephen Harper appointed the unelected Michael Fortier to both the Senate and to the Cabinet on 6 February 2006, the day his minority government took office. On December 22, 2008 the Prime Minister filled all eighteen vacant Senate seats. It was earlier reported in the Toronto Star that this action was "to kill any chance of a Liberal-NDP coalition government filling the vacancies next year".

The party also supports several other substantial reforms to reduce the present power of the Prime Minister's Office, such as establishing fixed election dates every four years and giving individual MPs more leeway in representing their constituents. In addition, in the wake of the sponsorship scandal and the resulting high-profile Gomery Inquiry the Conservative Party advocated government accountability and transparency reforms.

The Conservative Party, while officially having no current provincial wings, largely works with the former federal Progressive Conservative Party's provincial affiliates. There have been calls to change the names of the provincial parties from "Progressive Conservative" to "Conservative". However, there are other small "c" conservative parties which the federal Conservative Party has close ties with, such as the Saskatchewan Party, the Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ), and to some degree, the right-wing BC Liberals (even though there is an active British Columbia Conservative Party).

The federal Conservative party has the support of many of the provincial Conservative leaders. In Ontario, provincial PC Party leader John Tory and interim provincial opposition leader Bob Runciman have expressed open support for Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada, with former Mike Harris cabinet members Jim Flaherty, Tony Clement, and John Baird now ministers in Harper's government.

Support between federal and provincial Conservatives is more tenuous in some other provinces. In Alberta, relations have been strained between the federal Conservative Party and the Progressive Conservative. Part of the federal Tories' loss in the 2004 election was often blamed on then Premier Klein's public musings on health care late in the campaign. Klein had also called for a referendum on same-sex marriage. With the impending 2006 election, Klein predicted another Liberal minority, though this time the federal Conservatives won a minority government . Klein's successor Ed Stelmach has generally tried to avoid causing similar controversies, however Harper's surprise pledge to restrict bitumen exports drew a sharp rebuke from the Albertan government, who warned such restrictions would violate both the Constitution of Canada and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

After the 2007 budget was announced the two conservative governments in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland accused the federal Conservatives of breaching the terms of the Atlantic Accord. As a result relations have worsened between the two provincial governments, leading Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams to publicly denounce the federal Conservatives, which has given rise to his ABC (Anything But Conservative) campaign in the 2008 election.

While officially separate, federal Conservative Party documents, such as membership applications, can be picked up from most provincial Progressive Conservative Party offices. Several of the provincial parties also contain open links to the federal Conservative website on their respective websites.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper has attended multiple provincial Progressive Conservative party conventions as a keynote speaker and he has encouraged all federal party members to purchase memberships in their provincial conservative counterparts.

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Conservative Party (Romania)

PC logo

The Conservative Party of Romania (Romanian: Partidul Conservator) is a political party formed in 1991, after the fall of Communism, under the name of the Romanian Humanist Party (Partidul Umanist Român, PUR). From 2005 until December 3, 2006, the party was a junior member of the ruling coalition. The party took its present name, Conservative Party, on May 7, 2005.

The current Conservative Party states it promotes tradition, family, social solidarity, European integration, and a nationalism without chauvinism. It claims the heritage of the former historical Romanian Conservative Party, one of the two main political forces in Romania before the First World War. There is no direct, uninterrupted link between the two parties — the historical Conservative Party was dissolved after World War I — but the current party sustains and embraces the values of the historical one.

In 2005, the party organized a march "for family values" as a reaction to the Bucharest GayFest pride parade. The party is opposed to the legalisation of same-sex marriage, even though Octavian Petrovici, the vice-president of the party's Bucharest division, stated that the party "respects the choice" of same-sex couples.

The party also supports the introduction of compulsory religious education in Romanian schools (currently, such classes are optional).

The Conservative Party was founded as the Romanian Humanist Party (PUR) on December 18, 1991 and was for a time a member of the Humanist International. It changed its name in 2005 to reflect a shift in its ideology from centrist politics to more conservative, right-wing politics. The party was founded and continues to be led by Dan Voiculescu, a businessman who formally gave control of his companies to relatives. Voiculescu is the founder and former owner of an important media chain comprising among others the top-ranking TV channel Antena 1 and the newspapers Jurnalul Naţional and Gazeta Sporturilor. According to CNA (the state agency for broadcast licencing), he retains significant influence in the Romanian mass-media, either through his foundation or through his family.

The party generally supports the interests of the middle class and especially those of small and middle-size business owners, and has performed better electorally at a local level than at a national level. The PUR formed a coalition with the PDSR (now PSD), which won the 2000 elections. The PUR took part in the government under the condition of having the opportunity to promote the interests of its electorate. A Ministry for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises was thus formed, under the leadership of a PUR representative. After two years, the senior partner of the coalition, the PDSR, decided to suppress this Ministry, and consequently the PUR, no longer being able to represent its electorate, withdrew from the government.

In the local elections of June 2004, the PUR obtained 6% of the votes and, among others, managed to win in one important city, Bacău. During this election, the party strongly attacked the PSD and its alleged system of "local barons". After the surprising alliance of PUR with PSD, Romeo Stavarache, the mayor of Bacău, switched to the Liberals after a disagreement with Voiculescu, saying that he found it impossible to cooperate with the "local barons" he had struggled to defeat.

In the parliamentary elections of November 2004 the PUR again formed an electoral alliance with the social-democratic PSD party. This was a surprising move, as the PUR had strongly attacked the PSD in the June local elections. However, it ensured that the PUR would be able to enter the parliament on the coattails of the much larger party. The elections gave a slight parliamentary plurality to the PSD-PUR coalition, while the new president Traian Băsescu came from the other major competing coalition, the DA (Justice and Truth), formed by the PD party and the National Liberal Party. This situation threatened a major political crisis, the President being unwilling to appoint a prime minister from the slightly larger parliamentary bloc, and the DA candidate for prime minister liable not to be ratified by the Parliament, which would have resulted in new parliamentary elections.

Although initial talks assured the support of PUR for the Justice and Truth, without them joining the government, the election of PSD members Adrian Năstase and Nicolae Văcăroiu as Heads of Chambers in the Romanian Parliament, prompted the members of DA to invite PUR to join the government. Although he had been the main advocate of this solution and had strongly pleaded for it, president Băsescu later qualified the solution as "immoral". In return, the conservatives labelled the President as a "hypocrite".

Voiculescu has admitted having been a collaborator with the Securitate, Romania's communist-era internal intelligence service, after information to this effect was released publicly by Romania's National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives. He has actively denied that his collaboration was harmful to any individual. He was initially named to be a Vice Premier in the government of Prime Minister of Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu but was ultimately not allowed to take the position because of his involvement with the former intelligence service.

On May 7, 2005 the party took its present name as the Conservative Party, after a change of doctrine from social liberalism to a more conservative stance. However, its doctrine is still unclear, since it supports certain leftist doctrines, such as increasing taxes for companies.

On 12 February 2006, the PUNR was absorbed into the Conservative Party.

On December 3, 2006, the party quit the governing coalition and went into opposition. It currently polls at less than three per cent in opinion polls, and is unlikely to enter parliament in 2008's general election unless it enters into another pact with either the PSD (considered unlikely) or the PNL.

On 17 April 2008, the Social Democratic Party and the Conservative Party announced they would form a political alliance for the 2008 local elections.

In the Romanian legislative election, 2008, the Conservative Party also took part in an alliance with Social Democrats, and won 1 seat in the Senate and 4 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Before that, the Conservatives had proposed the Greater Romania Party (PRM) to form an alliance. The PRM leader emphatically rejected the offer, as it was presumed that PRM would be absorbed by the Conservative Party.

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Source : Wikipedia