The political associations of a given colour vary from country to country. For example, red has been previously associated to monarchy or the Church and today it is also the colour associated with the conservativeRepublican Party in the United States. Politicians making public appearances will often identify themselves by wearing rosettes, flowers or ties in the colour of their political party.
In Canada, in federal-level politics the official colour for the Conservative Party of Canada is blue, while in the province of Quebec light blue is associated with nationalist and secessionist movements (in reference to the province's prominently blue flag).
In South Africa, blue is usually associated with liberal political parties, the most popular being the Democratic Alliance, the largest opposition party. The colour blue was also used by the United Party, from which the Progressive Party (the most senior ancestor of the Democratic Alliance) split in 1959.
In most of Latin America blue is used as a colour of anti-feminism and, more specifically, anti-abortion. This colour was used as a response to the feminist/pro-abortion green. This originated in Argentina
Brown is sometimes used to describe the opposite of green parties, that is to describe parties that care little about pollution.
Buff was the colour of the Whig faction in British politics from the early 18th century until the middle of the 19th century. As such, it is sometimes used to represent the current political left (in opposition to blue, which represented the Tories and then the Conservatives and political right).
Grey is sometimes used by parties that represent the interests of pensioners and senior citizens, such as "The Greys" in Germany.
Grey is often used to represent independent politicians, from this the British The Independent Group groups of politicians use grey as their grouping colour. However, in the UK, white is used to represent independent politicians.
In Iran, green has been used by the Iranian Green Movement, a political movement that arose after the 2009 Iranian presidential election, in which protesters demanded the removal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office.
In Venezuela, green has been the traditional colour of the Copei party, one of the two parties that dominated the country's politics in the late 20th century (alongside Democratic Action) and one of the parties currently in opposition to the PSUV.
In most of Latin America, green is associated with pro-abortion movements, the colour started being used in Argentina as a symbol of 3rd wave feminism and abortion, with a green scarf as a symbol.
Orange since 1989 has represented Post-Communist Democratic Revolutions in Eastern Europe.
It less frequently represents various kinds of populist parties. Such is the case in Austria, Germany, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Finland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Turkey.
Orange is often used to represent the mutualist current in anarchist politics, as a middle ground between pro-market currents such as anarcho-capitalism (associated with the colour yellow of liberalism) and anti-market currents such as anarcho-syndicalism and anarcho-communism (associated with the colour red of communism and socialism).
In Canada, orange is the colour of the New Democratic Party (NDP), a social democratic party. Most social democratic parties around the world use red or pink, but in Canada the colour red was already long associated with the Liberals when the NDP was founded.
In New Zealand, the Electoral Commission rejected a proposed orange logo for being likely to confuse or mislead voters by being too similar to the colour used by the country's electoral agencies.
In Ukraine, orange was the colour of liberal groups that participated in the "Orange Revolution". This gave the colour orange a certain association with radical anti-authoritarian politics in some countries and it has been used as such by groups and organizations in the Middle East, for example in Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Bahrain and Israel.
Pink is sometimes used by social democratic parties, such as in France and Portugal. The more traditional colour of social democracy is red (because social democracy is descended from the democratic socialist movement), but some countries have large social democratic parties alongside large socialist or communist parties, so that it would be confusing for them all to use red. In such cases, social democrats are usually the ones who give up red in favor of a different colour. Pink is often chosen because it is seen as a softer, less aggressive version of red, in the same way that social democracy is more centrist and less militant than socialism. This is also the origin of the colloquial term "pinko".
In some European nations and the United States, pink is associated with homosexuality and the pink flag is used as a symbol in support of civil rights for LGBT people. This goes back to the Nazi German policy of appending pink triangles to the clothing of homosexual prisoners.
Although purple has some older associations with monarchism, it is the most prominent colour that is not traditionally connected to any major contemporary ideology. As such, it is sometimes used to represent a mix of different ideologies, or new protest movements that are critical of all previously-existing parties.
In the United Kingdom, purple is associated with Euroscepticism, being the official colours of the UK Independence Party (along with yellow) and the minor party Veritas.
In the United States, purple is the official colour of the Veterans Party of America which is a centrist constitutional based party with a mix of the dominant two parties' colours, as well as the colour of the Purple Heart Medal.
Purple is also unofficially used in the United States to denote a "swing state" (i.e. one contested frequently between the Republican Party, whose unofficial colour is red; and the Democratic Party, whose unofficial colour is blue). Purple is also used by centrists to represent a combination of beliefs belonging to the Republicans (red) and the Democrats (blue). It has also been used to reference Purple America, a term used in contrast to "blue" or "red", noting the electoral differences nationwide are observed more on discrepancies instead of unity (see red states and blue states).
Red is traditionally associated with socialism and communism. The oldest symbol of socialism (and by extension communism) is the Red Flag, which dates back to the French Revolution in the 18th century and the revolutions of 1848. Before this nascence, the colour red was generally associated with monarchy or the Church due to the symbolism and association of Christ's blood. The colour red was chosen to represent the blood of the workers who died in the struggle against capitalism. All major socialist and communist alliances and organisations—including the First, Second, Third and Fourth Internationals—used red as their official colour. The association between the colour red and communism is particularly strong. Communists use red much more often and more extensively than other ideologies use their respective traditional colours.
In Europe and Latin America, red is also associated with parties of social democracy and often their allies within the labour movement. Sometimes these parties use pink instead, as a "moderate" colour instead of the more "radical" red, or "pink" used to describe the more moderate faction or membership within a left-wing party.
Red is also the traditional colour of liberal parties in Latin America and was the colour use, for example, in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Uruguay for liberal parties. However, these parties follow social liberalism more than classic liberalism, thus seating in the centre-left.
In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, red is also the colour of the labour movement and the Labour (spelled Labor in Australia) parties in those countries. The use of red as a symbol is referenced in the British Labour Party's anthem, The Red Flag.
In the heyday of the British Empire before 1960, maps, globes, and atlases typically used red or pink to designate the British Empire or its Commonwealth. As soon as a colony became independent, it needed its own distinctive color and the practice died out.
In India, saffron is traditionally associated with Hinduism, Hindutva and the Hindu nationalist movement. Saffron was chosen because in Hindu Sanatana Dharma, the deep saffron colour is associated with sacrifice, religious abstinence, quest for light and salvation. Saffron or "Bhagwa" is the most sacred colour for the Hindus and is often worn by Sanyasis who have left their home in search of the ultimate truth.
Historically, it was associated with support for absolute monarchy, starting with the supporters of the Bourbon dynasty of France because it was the dynasty's colour. Later it was used by the Whites who fought against the communist "Reds" in the Russian Civil War, because some of the Russian "Whites" had similar goals to the French "Whites" of a century earlier (although, it is worth noting that the Whites included many different people with many ideologies, such as monarchists, liberals, and others).
Because of its use by anti-communist forces in Russia, the colour white came to be associated in the 20th century with many different anti-communist and counter-revolutionary groups, even those that did not support absolute monarchy (for example, the Finnish "Whites" who fought against the socialist "Reds" in the civil war following the independence of Finland). In some revolutions, red is used to represent the revolutionaries and white is used to represent the supporters of the old order, regardless of the ideologies or goals of the two sides.
In Italy a red cross on a white shield (scudo crociato) is the emblem of Catholic parties from the historical Christian Democracy party.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban reversed the Islamist schema, using black shahada on a white background (symbol of purity).
In Singapore, white is the colour associated with the People's Action Party, the party that has been in power and dominating the Parliament since the country's independence.
In Venezuela, white has been the traditional colour of the Democratic Action party, one of the two parties that dominated the country's politics in the late 20th century (alongside Copei) and one of the parties currently in opposition to the PSUV.
In Latin America, it is not unusual for left-wing parties to use yellow, as red was the traditional colour of liberals, especially in countries with prominent red-using liberal parties like Honduras, Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica, yellow is the colour associated with the social democratic and progressive Citizens' Action Party (generally under a darker gold tone) and left-wing Broad Front (which uses a more lighter tone). It is also the colour of several unions.
In the United States, the Libertarian Party has no official colour, but often uses the colour yellow because of its historical association with classical liberalism and in reference to a gold backed currency and free markets.
In this map of the 2012 United States presidential election results, the states are colour-coded by the political colour of the party whose candidate won their electoral college votes, but the political meanings of red and blue in the United States are the opposite of their meanings in the rest of the world.
Notable national political colour schemes include:
In Costa Rica, it is common for parties to use flags generally with two colours: the social democratic National Liberation uses green and white, progressive Citizens' Action uses yellow and red, socialist Broad Front uses yellow and black, classical liberal Libertarian Movement uses red and white, Christian Democrat Social Christian Unity uses blue and red. This often causes party members to be called by their party's colour combination, for example verdiblancos (green and whites) for PLN supporters, rojiamarillos (red and yellows) for PAC supporters, and so on.
In South Korea, the ruling conservative party Liberty Korea Party (former Saenuri Party) uses red as its colour, even though red is considered a leftist colour in Korea. In this case it is a kind of political strategy, to emphasise change and evolution.
Some of the established political parties use or have used different colour variations in certain localities. This was common in British politics up to the 1970s. The traditional colour of the Penrith and the Border Conservatives was yellow, rather than dark blue, even in the 2010 election Conservative candidates in Penrith and the neighbouring constituency of Westmorland and Lonsdale wore blue and yellow rosettes. In North East England, the Conservatives traditionally used red, Labour green and the Liberals blue and orange. In parts of East Anglia, the Conservatives used pink and blue, whilst in Norwich their colours were orange and purple. The Liberals and Conservatives used blue and red respectively in West Wales, while in parts of Cheshire the Liberals were red and Labour yellow. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Tories used orange in Birmingham, pink in Whitby and red in East Worcestershire, whilst the Whigs were blue in Kendal, purple in Marlborough and orange in Wakefield. The traditional colour of the Warwickshire Liberals was green, rather than orange.
In the United States the two major political parties use the national colours, i.e. red, white and blue. Historically, the only common situation in which it has been necessary to assign a single colour to a party has been in the production of political maps in graphical displays of election results. In such cases, there had been no consistent association of particular parties with particular colours. However, in the weeks following the 2000 election there arose the terminology of red states and blue states, in which the conservative Republican Party was associated with red and the liberal Democratic Party with blue. Political observers latched on to this association, which resulted from the use of red for Republican victories and blue for Democratic victories on the display map of a television network. In 2004, the association was mostly kept. As of November 2012, maps for presidential elections produced by the U.S. government also use blue for Democrats and red for Republicans. In September 2010, the Democratic Party officially adopted an all-blue logo. Around the same time, the official Republican website began using a red logo.
This association has potential to confuse foreign observers in that, as described above, red is traditionally a left-wing colour, while blue is typically associated with right-wing politics.
There is some historical use of blue for Democrats and red for Republicans: in the late 19th century and early 20th century, Texas county election boards used colour-coding to help Spanish speakers and illiterates identify the parties, but this system was not applied consistently in Texas and was not picked up on a national level. For instance in 1888, Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison used maps that coded blue for the Republicans, the colour Harrison perceived to represent the Union and "Lincoln's Party" and red for the Democrats.
In the accounting world, red ink is used indicate a deficit (that is, spending exceeds income). Politicians often attack deficit spending as "being in the red." For example, Republican presidential candidate Robert Dole in 1996 denounced one of President Bill Clinton's proposals because it would impose new costs on small business. Dole said: "Now that the federal government is running in the red and state governments are faced with budget deficits that rise each year, the Democrats are looking for a new pocket to pick, and small business will fill that role."
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