Political colour

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Hogarth's The Polling, depicting a 1754 election to the British parliament, includes a blue flag representing the conservative Tories and a buff flag representing the liberal Whigs

Political colours are colours used to represent a political ideology, movement or party, either officially or unofficially.[1] Parties in different countries with similar ideologies sometimes use similar colours. For example, the colour red symbolises left-wing ideologies in many countries (leading to such terms as "Red Army" and "Red Scare"), while the colour orange symbolizes Christian democratic political ideology,[2] and the colour yellow is most commonly associated with liberalism and right-libertarianism.[3][4]

The political associations of a given colour vary from country to country, and there are exceptions to the general trends. For example, red has been previously associated to monarchy or the Church, and today it is also the colour associated with the conservative Republican 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.


Black is primarily associated with anarchism[5] (see anarchist symbolism), fascism (see blackshirts and Protection Squadron) and jihadism (see Black Standard).[3]


Blue is usually associated with centre-right or conservative parties,[3] originating from its use by the Tories (predecessor of the Conservative Party) in the United Kingdom.[6]


Brown has been associated with Nazism because of the Sturmabteilung (SA), whose members were called "brownshirts". They were modeled on Benito Mussolini's blackshirts, and the colour was chosen because many brown uniforms intended for the colonial troops in Germany's African colonies were cheaply available after the end of World War I. In Europe and elsewhere, the colour brown is sometimes used to refer to fascists in general.[10]

  • The Marijuana Party of Canada uses the colour brown.
  • Brown is sometimes used to describe the opposite of green parties, that is to describe parties that care little about pollution.[11]


  • 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).



Green is the colour for both environmentalist[12] and Islamic political parties and movements (see green in Islam).[3]


Magenta is the colour that tends to replace yellow for liberal and centrist parties and organisation in Europe. It is not to be mixed with the socialist or socia-democratic use of hte colour pink. The ALDE Party and its youth organisation Lymec completely dropped yellow for magenta, while other notable parties reduced the proportion of yellow in their logo to use more magenta, such as the German Free Democrats or the French Radical Party.


Orange is the traditional colour of the Christian democratic political ideology and most Christian democratic political parties, which are based on Catholic social teaching and/or neo-Calvinist theology. Christian democratic political parties came to prominence in Europe and the Americas after World War II.[13][2]


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".


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.


Red is traditionally associated with socialism and communism.[3] 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.[18]
    • 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.[19] As soon as a colony became independent, it needed its own distinctive color and the practice died out.
  • In Brazil, red is so strongly associated with the left-wing populist Workers' Party, the communists PCdoB and PCB and with the far-left that different left-wing movements choose not to use red as a main color in order to give themselves a distinct identity. The PSOL and the Brazilian Socialist Party invert the traditional color schemes of left-wing political parties and use red as a secondary color with yellow, orange or white being their primary color. Democratic Labour Party uses blue, red, pink and white as main colors.
  • Also in Brazil, red combined with black and white was formerly associated with Brazilian nationalism. The first incarnation of the agrarianist-centrist Social Democratic Party, both incarnations of the Brazilian Labour Party (the first a social democratic party, the current a populist one) and the Brazilian Democratic Movement use this color scheme. Red, Black and White are associated with the three races which form the ethnic composition of Brazil: the Amerindians (Red), the Afro-Brazilians (Black) and White Brazilians.
  • Belize's main conservative party (United Democratic Party) is represented by the red colour.
  • In Canada, red has always been associated with the Liberal Party of Canada because one of its predecessors was the Parti rouge (French for "Red Party").
  • Japan's buddhist party Komeito has a red sun as flag.
  • The Colorado Party of Paraguay, a right-wing conservative party, uses red while its main rival the liberal Partido Liberal Radical uses blue, contrary to the rest of Latin America.
  • The Liberty Korea Party, which was the dominant conservative party in South Korea, used red as their official colour. Before 2012, the conservative parties used blue as their official colour.
  • In Spain red is associated with communism, socialism and social democracy. The social democrat party PSOE and the leftist coalition Izquierda Unida use red.
  • In Sweden red is associated with leftism, socialism and social democracy. The Left Party and the Social Democratic Party use red.
  • In Thailand, the Red Shirt movement derives its populist base from amongst the working class and rural communities, which oppose the established power elite in Bangkok.
  • A key exception to the convention of red to mean socialism is the United States. Since about the year 2000, the mass media have associated red with the Republican Party, despite the fact that the Republican Party is a conservative party (see red states and blue states).[8] This use is probably entrenched as many political organisations (for example the website RedState) now use the term. Any use of the color red exclusively to describe historically the Republican Party on anything prior to 2000 would be historically inaccurate and misleading.


  • In India, saffron is traditionally associated with Hinduism, Hindutva and the Hindu nationalist movement.[20] 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.


Turquoise has, in recent years, been associated with Euroscepticism as a result of several European parties that have proposed their respective nation's exit from the European Union.


White is today mainly linked to pacifism (as in the surrender flag)[3] and in politics of the United Kingdom to independent politicians such as Martin Bell.

  • 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 Uruguay, the conservative National Party is also known as "White Party", counterpart of the liberal "Red Party" during the two-party era.
  • 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.


Yellow used to be the colour most commonly associated with liberalism and right-libertarianism.[3][4][21] It is the customary colour of a few liberal and right-libertarian parties in Romania (National Liberal Party), the United Kingdom (Liberal Democrats) and the United States (Libertarian Party).

By countryEdit

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:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sawer, Marian (1 May 2007). "Wearing your Politics on your Sleeve: The Role of Political Colours in Social Movements". Social Movement Studies. 6 (1): 39–56. doi:10.1080/14742830701251294. ISSN 1474-2837.
  2. ^ a b Min Reuchamps (17 December 2014). Minority Nations in Multinational Federations: A Comparative Study of Quebec and Wallonia. Routledge. p. 140. ISBN 9781317634720.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Adams, Sean; Morioka, Noreen; Stone, Terry Lee (2006). Color Design Workbook: A Real World Guide to Using Color in Graphic Design. Gloucester, Mass.: Rockport Publishers. pp. 86. ISBN 159253192X. OCLC 60393965.
  4. ^ a b Kumar, Rohit Vishal; Joshi, Radhika (October–December 2006). "Colour, Colour Everywhere: In Marketing Too". SCMS Journal of Indian Management. 3 (4): 40–46. ISSN 0973-3167. SSRN 969272.
  5. ^ Sureyyya Evren, "Black Flag White Masks: Anti-Racism and Anarchist Historiography." Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action 8.1 (2014).
  6. ^ "Why is the Conservative Party blue?". BBC News. 20 April 2006. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Blue is the colour of peace". Infochangeindia.org. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  8. ^ a b David Starkey (2007). Living Blue in the Red States. University Press of Nebraska.
  9. ^ a b "Change That Matters". Democrats.org. 14 September 2010. Archived from the original on 19 October 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  10. ^ Jean-Denis Lepage, Hitler's Stormtroopers: The SA, The Nazis’ Brownshirts, 1922-1945 (2016).
  11. ^ Antony Millner; Hélène Ollivier; Leo Simon (2016). "Policy experimentation, political competition, and heterogeneous beliefs". Journal of Public Economics. 120: 84–96. doi:10.1016/j.jpubeco.2014.08.008.
  12. ^ Russell J. Dalton (1994). The Green Rainbow: Environmental Groups in Western Europe.
  13. ^ John Witte (1993). Christianity and Democracy in Global Context. Westview Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780813318431.
  14. ^ Taras Kuzio, Aspects of the Orange Revolution VI: Post-Communist Democratic Revolutions in Comparative Perspective (2007).
  15. ^ "Presidente Santos reafirmó que pertenece al partido de La U" (in Spanish). 16 September 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  16. ^ Electoral Commission (27 November 2007). "The Family Party - Applications to register party name and logo". Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  17. ^ Electoral Commission (17 December 2007). "The Family Party registered, logo declined". Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  18. ^ Peter Hitchens (26 March 2010). The Cameron Delusion. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 978-1-4411-2390-9.
  19. ^ Arthur Jay Klinghoffer (2006). The Power of Projections: How Maps Reflect Global Politics and History. Greenwood. p. 79. ISBN 9780275991357.
  20. ^ Véronique Bénéï (2005). Manufacturing Citizenship: education and nationalism in Europe, South Asia and China. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-36488-4.
  21. ^ Cassel-Picot, Muriel "The Liberal Democrats and the Green Cause: From Yellow to Green" in Leydier, Gilles and Martin, Alexia (2013) Environmental Issues in Political Discourse in Britain and Ireland. Cambridge Scolars Publishing. p.105. ISBN 9781443852838
  22. ^ Kathleen L. Endres and Therese L. Lueck, eds., Women's Periodicals in the United States: Social and Political Issues (Westport, CT.: Greenwood Press, 1996): 458, note 13.
  23. ^ Jon Kelly (4 May 2015). "The seats where Tories weren't blue and Labour wasn't red". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  24. ^ "Historic Election Results". The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  25. ^ "Reds and Blues – The Handbook of Texas Online". Tshaonline.org. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  26. ^ Tara A. Rowe (13 January 2005). "The Political Game: The Red and Blue State Phenomenon". Politicalgame.blogspot.com. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  27. ^ Nicholas Laham (1996). A Lost Cause: Bill Clinton's Campaign for National Health Insurance. Greenwood. p. 84. ISBN 9780275956110.