Ideologies link political theory with political practice at both "fundamental" and "operative" level, and they are fluid sets of beliefs that overlap with one another in different circumstances. Since there is a collection of values, debates appeared in society. For example, some liberalists focus on freedom, while some focus on political equality; some of them take a more extreme form for freedom, while some are more relaxed to put individuals to freedom balance with individual equality. Likewise, it is different between sets of ideology, for example, both Marxism and liberalism will emphasize freedom, but their conception of freedom priorities is a little bit different.
It also implies equality, in terms of political equalities, Marxism and socialism may ask for more for economic equalities, or egalitarianism. Therefore, there is the left-right political spectrum, which is a system to classify ideologies, political positions and parties. The origin of the left-right political spectrum is imported from the Western world. During the French Revolution in 1789, the terms “left” and “right” was used when members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the revolution to the president’s left and supporters of the king to his right.
The use of "left" and "right" are markers of political identity derives from the French Revolution.
In the sense of democracy and egalitarianism took up position to chairman's left, whereas the more traditionalist, cautious, property-conscious sat on the right. Therefore, left is about change, including challenging the status quo and establishment, while the right is about preservation, particularly in preserving the traditions and privileged class.
Nowadays, the "left" supports collectivism and intervention, they wish to have a more radical approach towards an egalitarian society. The left is mostly associated with liberty, fraternity, progress, equality, rights, reform and internationalism. Most of the parties are social-democrat, socialist, communist and labour. They promote equality, like welfare and equality of opportunity, also they want the government to involve more on taxation and regulation. They believe in internationalism or multiculturalism, post-materialism like environmentalism and LGBT.
On the other hand, there are right parties like national, conservative and Christian. The right is generally associated with authority, duties, hierarchy, tradition and nationalism. They specialize especially in economic fields, it is favourable to the market in individualism, that people think government intervention is not efficient and effective. They believe hierarchies and orders are the only ways to maintain the general running of the society. They emphasize on duties, reactive approach rather than proactive approach, and the power of nations. Thus, the left stresses on welfare program, equality and government intervention in economic development, while the right emphasizes on private economic activity and individual initiative. In the 1950s, the increasing disillusionment of Soviet communism has led to the New Left Review, and has become a remarkable interpretation of intellectual opinion.
They believe democratization of all institutions, would lead to phase out some of the established power. The English cultural historians and critics have developed a study on modern history based on Marxist theory, emphasizing class struggle and events that are related to left-wing politics. Moreover, in the 1970s, the UK, the US and France used New Right as an expression to represent the thought of anti-socialist and conservative. There are three distinct thoughts in the New Right movement, including revulsion against socialism. Besides, the renewed attachment to libertarian justifications and liberal values of the capitalist economy. Thirdly, the excesses attitude to the left-liberal, rather than traditional conservative hesitations, they pursuit to implement dogmatic policies. Lastly, the old radical left, Green, and moderate left parties are all located on the upper left-hand side, the Green comes closest to the cultural liberalism, while the radical left is located farthest to the left on the economic dimension. On the other hand, since there are different positions along the cultural dimension, the right is divided into two groups: liberal and moderate right party are mostly located above the populist right group on cultural dimension, while the populist radical right parties are located close to the immigration or army pole.
In the early 2000s, the parties combined positions of cultural demarcation with centrist positions on economic issues. To conclude, political scientists define left and right under the context of French Revolution, that left usually refers to radical, pro-reform, pro-equality, pro-choice, pro-internationalism, while rightist refers to pro-life, pro-traditions, pro-order. Moreover, the centre-left liberal party in Hong Kong, the Democratic Party (DP) promotes the ideology of social liberalism. The Democratic Party promotes social liberalism, which comes from classic liberalism. Liberalism was the product of the growth of a capitalist society or market and the breakdown of feudalism, and reflected the aspirations of the increasing industrial middle class. Since the 17th century, politicians believe capitalism and liberalism. They believe individuals should be well-represented in the political system, so they advocated a representative and constitutional government in those days. In early 19th century, with the growth of the industrialized economy, like the industrial revolution, global competitions, and global business started to take place, liberalists would ask for more equal representation that they started to concern about the distribution and redistribution on the social resources, economic goods and products.
Liberalists encourage laissez-faire capitalism, by promoting the private property right, they reject any kinds of government intervention. Since the late 19th century, liberalists promote social liberalism, which favours in welfare reform and economic intervention to support economic egalitarian approach, some basic economic intervention that the minimal resources could be given to every household. Social, centre-left liberalism is developed, striving for an equal right to freedom came to apply globally. Liberalists perceive freedom more expansively, no longer only the freedom from arbitrary power and right to civil liberty, as well as equal right to participate in education, political life and some other primitive elements that assure equal opportunity for individual’s development and security. Nowadays, centre-left liberalism endorses the more reformist and egalitarian side of that tradition, and is always interchangeable with the term progressive. It is different from conservatism on how to perceive freedom, and the uses of government in pursuit of security, prosperity and the public good. Social, centre-left liberalism has a broader, and more democratic interpretation of freedom, as well as retaining the institutions of capitalism, the growth and stability of the economy, standardizing the institutions in the interests of fairness, and the sustainability of the environment. On the other hand, centre-left liberalism guarantees freedom of speech, and greater governmental transparency, in order to ensure public accountability and protect individual rights.
In terms of promoting the sustainability of the environment, the DP aims to strive for protection to the environment, so resources can be sustained and endless for the next generations. Furthermore, in expanding the economic role of government, the DP believes maintaining fair competition and the free-market system is necessary, there should be proper supervision, a reasonable and stable tax system, and a sound legal system. The logo of the Democratic Party uses a pigeon, and green as background, as they promote democratic, freedom and fairness within the society. Indeed, the DP tries to appeal to a wide range of people and views, and strives for providing welfare to the middle and working-class economically. Furthermore, they work on helping unemployment, health care, and education. For example, since the mainlanders always come to the Hong Kong like the Northern District, Yuen Long and Tuen Mun for powered formula, which the quality is guaranteed, so there is an insufficient supply for local consumption. The DP proposed the government to set a quota on each mainlander, to ensure local babies can have enough powdered formula. The DP has a variety of beliefs to show its position in the left-right political spectrum.
First, liberal ideology includes a core principle, individualism which sees every human individual, but neither the collective body nor social group as the most important. Likewise, liberalists aim to construct a society that individuals can develop and flourish the things they define as 'the good' with the best of his abilities. Therefore, the belief of the DP that every member of the society plays an important role in economic development has promoted individualism. They think every investors, labours, professionals, and the government are essential elements to contribute to a well-developed economy. As a result, liberalism is seen to be morally neutral and liberal will pursuit a good society, as it provides rules for individuals to make good and moral decisions.
Secondly, liberty or individual freedom is also a core value of liberalism, provided that priority over equality, authority or justice. It desires to safeguard each individual can act as he chooses or pleases. However, liberals also promote 'freedom under the law', since they notice an individual's freedom may affect the freedom of another. They endorse individuals can enjoy the maximum freedom provided that their freedom of actions will not intervene or become a threat to another's freedom and right. Since the DP believes democracy, human rights, freedom, and the rule of law are essential for the improvement of the society. Besides, they think the implementation of one country two systems, a high degree of autonomy, and Hong Kong people administrating Hong Kong after the handover can benefit the stability and prosperity of the city. Thus, it is necessary to accelerate the development of a democratic political system, meanwhile, consolidate the existing system in terms of human rights, freedom and the rule of law. Given these backgrounds, Hong Kong still has to freedom to protest, rally and strike.
Thirdly, the DP uphold the value of equality, that individuals are 'born equal', and they should have equal rights, especially in legal equality that 'equality before the law'. In terms of the law, everyone is equal, regardless of the status of an individual in the society. However, they do not endorse equality of outcome or social equality, since different people are born with different levels of willingness to work and distinct talents. Thus, they favour equality of opportunity, which aim to provide an equivalent chance to all individuals, allowing them to find out their unique potentials. It always works with meritocracy, which merit reflects capability plus hard work.
For example, under the threat of COVID-19, the DP requested the Link Real Estate Investment Trust to lower or even eliminate the tax for the merchants, so they can overcome the hard period easier. This provides opportunities for the merchants to continue to run their business under adversity. In order to maintain stability, social justice and eliminate discriminations in the society, the DP thinks the government should have a well-established system on education, medical care, housing, labour, social welfare and social security. These can provide equal opportunities for individuals to develop their potential and increase social participation. In a nutshell, the Democratic Party has its social liberal view in terms of supporting democracy, and is positioned on centre-left in the left-right political spectrum. They believe people can make good choices and freedom of oneself should be well-respected.