John Howard has left Washington after apparently being re-elected as
chairman of the International Democrat Union – it hasn’t been reported
anywhere, but on Tuesday he was expecting to be unopposed (here) so we assume there was no last-minute hitch.

The International Democrat Union,
founded in 1983, is one of the three main international associations of
political parties, grouping “Conservative, Christian Democrat and
like-minded political parties of the centre and centre right.” The
other two are the Socialist International to which the ALP belongs, and Liberal International which has no Australian affiliate.

Howard and his colleagues repeatedly assure us that the Liberal Party
is a “broad church,” embracing both liberal and conservative
traditions.

But it’s worth checking out both the IDU and LI websites just to see
which company they choose to keep. The Liberal Party is the only one of
the IDU’s members with “Liberal” in its name; all the other
historically liberal parties are in Liberal International. The LI site
also has a lot more philosophical content to it, including a very
interesting gallery of “Liberal Thinkers” that includes such luminaries as Friedrich Hayek, Karl Popper and Ayn Rand.

Evidently, one of two things has happened: either John Howard is in the wrong organisation, or his party has got the wrong name.

Peter Fray

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