Even though the heyday of German liberalism dates back to 1866–78, the German liberal parties combined (the left-liberal Freisinnige Volkspartei and the right-liberal Nationalliberale Partei) achieved their highest-ever number of votes during the German Empire in 1912. Following the Empire's collapse in 1918, attempts to unite the liberal wings failed. Consequently, the divide between the left-liberal, republican Deutsche Demokratische Partei (DDP) and the right-liberal, initially monarchist, Deutsche Volkspartei (DVP) continued. Under Stresemann the DVP soon came to accept the Weimar Republic. Indeed, as a result of their close involvement with the new state and its constitution, the DVP and DDP were blamed for the failures of the Republic. This led to the collapse of the Liberal vote from 1928 onwards. Indeed, disaffected Liberals flocked to support Hitler in droves. In 1945, a Liberal Democratic Party was founded in Eastern Germany, but soon after its foundation it was increasingly controlled by, and subservient to, the Communist regime.
In West Germany, the FDP (Freie Demokratische Partei, Free Democratic Party) was founded in 1948, which subsequently attracted 5–10 per cent of the popular vote. However, until the advent of the Green Party during the 1980s, the FDP's influence was disproportionate to its size. One of three parties in parliament during the 1960s and 1970s, no majority could be formed without it apart from a grand coalition of CDU and SPD. As a result, the FDP formed the junior partner in government 1949–59, 1961–6, and between 1969 and 1998. Its influence has been particularly strong in the area of foreign policy, which was determined by Walter Scheel (1968–74), Hans-Dietrich Genscher (1974–92), and Klaus Kinkel (1992–8), and their commitment to solving the German Question through ‘Ostpolitik’. Following Genscher's departure, the party was at pains to develop a new and distinctive programme. In government until 1998, it spent the subsequent years in opposition to rejuvenate its leadership and its public profile.http://www.liberale.deThe official website of the FDP.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).