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Definition of CONSERVATISM
a: the principles and policies of a Conservative party
b: the Conservative party
a: disposition in politics to preserve what is established
b: a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change; specifically: such a philosophy calling for lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs (as retirement income or health-care coverage)
: the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change
Political attitude or ideology denoting a preference for institutions and practices that have evolved historically and are thus manifestations of continuity and stability. It was first expressed in the modern era through the works of Edmund Burke in reaction to the French Revolution, which Burke believed tarnished its ideals through its excesses. Conservatives believe that the implementation of change should be minimal and gradual; they appreciate history and are more realistic than idealistic. Well-known conservative parties include the British Conservative Party, the German Christian Democratic Union, the U.S. Republican Party, and the Japanese Liberal-Democratic Party. See alsoChristian Democracy; liberalism.