Progressive Democrats

The Progressive Democrats (Irish: An Páirtí Daonlathach, lit.: The Democratic Party), commonly known as the PDs, was a pro-free market liberal political party in the Republic of Ireland.

Launched on 21 December 1985 by Desmond O'Malley and other politicians who had split from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, the Progressive Democrats took liberal positions on divorce, contraception, and other social issues. The party also supported economic liberalisation, advocating measures such as lower taxation, fiscal conservatism, privatisation, and welfare reform. It enjoyed an impressive début at the 1987 general election, winning 14 seats in Dáil Éireann and capturing almost 12 percent of the popular vote to temporarily surpass the Labour Party as Ireland's third largest political party.

Although the Progressive Democrats never again won more than 10 seats in the Dáil, they formed coalition governments with Fianna Fáil during the 26th Dáil (1989–92), the 28th Dáil (1997–2002), the 29th Dáil (2002–07) and the 30th Dail (2007–09). These successive years as the government's junior coalition partner gave the party an influence on Irish politics and economics disproportionate to its small size. In particular, the party has often been credited with shaping the low-tax, pro-business environment that contributed to Ireland's Celtic Tiger economic boom during the 1990s and 2000s.

However recently the party has been criticised for the its policies which some have argued contributed to the Irish financial and economic crisis.

On 8 November 2008, the party began the process of disbanding, and was formally dissolved on 20 November 2009. The two Progressive Democrat politicians elected to the 30th Dáil, Mary Harney and Noel Grealish, continued to support the government as independent TDs, and Mary Harney also continued as Minister for Health and Children.

The party was a member of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR). Its youth wing was the Young Progressive Democrats.

Read more about Progressive DemocratsHistory, Policies, General Election Results

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