Since the beginning of liberalism in Portugal in the 19th century, several parties have, by gaining representation in parliament, continued the liberal ideology in contemporary Portuguese politics. But after the initial fervor of the Liberal Revolution of 1820 and the outcome of the Liberal Wars (1828-1834) during the 19th century, liberalism was relegated to a secondary role in Portuguese politics and government and even outlawed for periods of time. The first fully-fledged liberal party founded as such to have a seat in the Portuguese Parliament since the 19th century, was Iniciativa Liberal, in 2019.
The Social Democratic Party was a full right member of the Liberal International, from 1985 until 1996. The party leaned towards social liberalism since Aníbal Cavaco Silva served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1985 to 1995 (a period marked by high economic growth in the country) and later as President of Portugal from 2006 to 2016. From June 2011 to November 2015, after a IMF-European Union orchestrated bailout to the insolvent Portuguese Republic has been requested by the incumbent Prime Minister José Sócrates of the Socialist Party on 6 April 2011, Pedro Passos Coelho of the Social Democratic Party served as Prime Minister and his policies became known as some of the most liberal in Portuguese economic history. However, many of his cabinet's proposals didn't pass due to the antiliberal, labor movement-inspired Portuguese law.