The liberal parties
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The liberal parties book
The position of the left liberals was even more difficult. The merger of the Secessionists of 1880 with the Progressives in 1884 into the Freisinn did not last. The veteran Progressive leader Eugen Richter stuck to his strongly oppositional line, still demanding real constitutional change, even when it had moved off the agenda, rejecting high defence expenditure and sticking to free trade. Some of the former Secessionists wished to move closer to the government, when this seemed possible after the departure of Bismarck. In 1894 the party split again, with the Richter group taking the name Freisinnige Volkspartei and maintaining a reasonable Reichstag foothold, the others under the name Freisinnige Vereinigung becoming a group of chiefs and few Indians. By the turn of the century there were efforts to reinvigorate the liberal movement. So-called Young Liberals tried to broaden the organizational structure of the National Liberals, by founding more local associations with an enlarged membership, instead of relying on small committees of notables operating mainly at election times. This development was made easier by changes in the law of association in 1899 and 1908. Prior to 1899 the national federation of political associations was prohibited and only when this prohibition was rescinded did it become easier to build up a representative structure on a national basis.