Libertarian ideas seem to have a strong following in the developed world, but I've never heard of any libertarian party being in power. In Poland, where I live, the main libertarian party (which might be the only one for all I know) has been doing a really bad job winning votes so far. Has any country ever had a libertarian government? Have the libertarian ideas been put to practice there?

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    One might make the argument that anarcho-libertarianism has been the de facto system in Somalia for some time, but only because the central government has almost no control.
    – mmyers
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 15:23
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    Does your question's scope include the ones that don't define themselves as libertarian but follow libertarian policies?
    – Utku
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 16:39
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    @Utku Yes, why not. If the answer to the broader question is yes, then it would be best to answer the narrower question too. (If the answer to the broader one is no, then the narrower one is automatically answered.)
    – ymar
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 17:36
  • @mmyers Somalia is fragmented into warlord turfs, de facto proto-states
    – Pertinax
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 18:37

8 Answers 8


The Libertarian movement has had rather limited success in getting officials elected to governments around the world. This may not be all that surprising, given that the movement generally favors the significant limiting of government. One country where they have seen significant successes, however, is in Costa Rica under the Partido Movimiento Libertario banner. The party currently holds 9 of 57 seats in the legislature and their presidential candidate achieved a full 20% of the popular vote in the 2010 presidential elections.

In addition to the success of individual candidates, Costa Rica also scores relatively high amongst libertarians as one of the most libertarian countries in the world. Costa Rica has relatively libertarian laws with respect to personal property, has no standing military and fairly low tax rates. Other countries that are often considered to be some of the most libertarian in the world include Liechtenstein, Hong Kong and Switzerland.

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    Interesting in that Liechtenstein, Hong Kong and Switzerland are all fairly wealthy nations (relatively speaking). Not sure what that says, just find that somewhat interesting.
    – user1530
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 15:57

Fiona Patten from the Australian Sex party was elected to the Victorian Parliament in December 2014. She founded the libertarian party in 2009 and almost got elected to the Australian Senate in 2013. Her platform includes legalising all drugs, taxing the church and voluntary euthanasia. She delivers her maiden speech on 12.2.15.


Russian government of Yegor Gaidar of 1991-1992 conducted a policy which is often associated with Libertarianism in the West. This policy included:

  • Transition to market economy
  • Large scale privatization without adequate compensation to the state
  • Radical cuts in state expenses, including military, science, medicine and education
  • Reduction of free education and healthcare services
  • Removal of state price control
  • Removal of state regulation of the currency market and circulation. Allowing free circulation of foreign currency
  • Deregulation of most markets, including food, alcohol, tobacco, pornographic production, public transportation, retail, banking, mass media, security services
  • Removal of protectionist barriers and easing border control
  • Introduction of private property on land
  • Legalization of possession of means of self-defence
  • Support for regional separatism
  • Removal of criminal punishment for consumption of drugs and homosexualism

The government who conducted this policy stayed in power for a quite short time. The policy conducted is widely considered to have catastrophic effect.

The economy of the country deteriorated. Budget deficit and hyperinflation reached unseen heights. Crime rate, drug consumption, prostitution and infectious diseases skyrocketed. Several regions proclaimed sovereignty, including Chechen republic, which later led to a war. Industrial production dropped more than a half. Ethnic conflicts sharpened. Neo-Nazi, Jihadist and other extremist groups, as well as quasi-religious organizations flourished. Large scale frauds of the kind of Ponzi schemes and pyramids deprived millions of their possessions. Many enterprises stopped paying or heavily delayed wages.

This all led to a constitutional crisis of 1993 when the Supreme Council refused to approve Yegor Gaidar as a prime minister for a new term. The president Yeltsin then staged a coup and ordered to shoot the parliament building with tanks. After the crisis was resolved by adopting a new constitution, Yeltsin did not dare to appoint highly unpopular Gaidar again but the state policy continued the same in many respects, although not as radical as before. Yegor Gaidar's ideas were continued by the party "Democratic Choice" to whom he became a member.

In 1993 the party came second in the election due to overwhelming support by the press, after nationalist party LDPR. But in 1995 the party earned only 3,5% votes which was insufficient to get any seats in the legislature and later was disbanded.


The United Kingdom Independence Party calls itself a libertarian party and has won a number of parliamentary seats in the European Parliament.

That self-description has been widely disputed.

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    "That self-description has been widely disputed." Well yes - I can call myself whatever I want, it doesn't change who I actually am. Some of the policies they propose may be libertarian, a lot of them definitely aren't.
    – assylias
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 12:39

Yes. Libertarian Estonian Reform Party with 33 seats of 101 member Riigikogu is largest party in parliament.

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    As far as I can tell, that party describes itself as liberal, not libertarian. The word "libertarian" isn't used anywhere in the Wikipedia article you've linked to.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 13:01

As far as I know, former Rep. Dan Gordon was elected to the Rhode Island House as a Libertarian. I believe -- and could certainly be wrong -- that is the only one.

  • Sorry, wrong. He was a Republican when he was elected in 2010. He switched to Libertarian in 2011 (presumably to run for 2012 as one) but lost and wasn't even on the ballot in 2012, had to run as a write-in. He was sitting in parlament for a year as a Libertarian, but hasn't won any elections as one.
    – user4012
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 16:06
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    Ah, so he was the only Libertarian... he just didn't run as one. Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 22:04

Well, if a Libertarian party got in power it would no longer be a libertarian party but a people's party (not sure about this term, sound socialist; I mean a popular party) and a more liberate new Libertarian party would form.

Or if the Libertarians get a lot of votes, the popular party will become more liberate and get the votes back at the next election.

I assume you want to know whether voting for the liberal party will help to make your county more liberal. My answer: yes! (hopefully).

And about your original questions:

Has any country ever had a libertarian government?

Yes- e.g. in Germany around more than 50% of the governments since WW2 included the FDP(german libral party)

Have the libertarian ideas been put to practice there?

Which? And I don't know how many of the liberal changes (mostly only gender equality) can be attributed to them.

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    Why is it that a Libertarian party would no longer be libertarian once in power? Also, Liberal != Libertarian Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 19:51
  • @AffableGeek: Libertarian in the US=Liberal in Europe. Remember that most of these words have a latin origin, something European languages are more sensitive to. Many US terms are a bit wonky. E.g. "Libertarian" was invented, first used by, and is still used by anarchist socialists. Many people prefer the word Anarcho-capitalist to make things unambiguous.
    – prash
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 0:50
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    Liberal in Europe definitely != Libertarian. Quite the opposite in most cases. The number of things that Liberals want to ban is breathtaking on our side of the pond.
    – Chaffers
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 16:55
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    @Chaffers: I guess that it would generally be just the anglophone world where "liberal" implies "social liberalism". This was not always the case even in the UK: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Party_(UK)#Ideology. Contrast that with the liberals in Germany: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Democratic_Party_(Germany).
    – prash
    Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 19:28

Very recently the UK Independence Party won the 2014 European elections, the first time in over 100 years that neither the socialist labour or conservative parties had won a national election.

Which this isn't an election to form a national government it is technically a parliamentary election.

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    Calling the UKIP a libertarian party is, at best, completely misleading...
    – assylias
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 12:36

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