Centre-right politics

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Centre-right politics lean to the right of the political spectrum, but are closer to the centre. From the 1780s to the 1880s, there was a shift in the Western world of social class structure and the economy, moving away from the nobility and mercantilism, towards capitalism. [1] [2] [3] This general economic shift toward capitalism affected centre-right movements, such as the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom, which responded by becoming supportive of capitalism. [4]


The International Democrat Union is an alliance of centre-right (as well as some further right-wing) political parties – including the UK Conservative Party, the Conservative Party of Canada, the Republican Party of the United States, the Liberal Party of Australia, the New Zealand National Party and Christian democratic parties – which declares commitment to human rights as well as economic development. [5]

Ideologies characterised as centre-right include liberal conservatism and some variants of liberalism and Christian democracy, among others. The economic aspects of the modern centre-right have been influenced by economic liberalism, generally supporting free markets, limited government spending and other policies heavily associated with neoliberalism. The moderate right is neither universally socially conservative nor culturally liberal, and often combines both beliefs with support for civil liberties and elements of traditionalism.

Silvio Berlusconi and George W. Bush, speaking at Crawford, Texas Silvio Berlusconi and George W. Bush, speaking at Crawford, Texas.jpg
Silvio Berlusconi and George W. Bush, speaking at Crawford, Texas

Historical examples of centre-right schools of thought include One Nation Conservatism in the United Kingdom, Red Tories in Canada, and Rockefeller Republicans in the United States. New Democrats in the United States also embraced several aspects of centre-right policy, including balanced budgets, free trade, and welfare reform. These ideological factions contrast with far right policies and right-wing populism. They also tend to be more supportive of cultural liberalism and green conservatism than right-wing variants.

According to a 2019 study, centre-right parties had approximately 27% of the vote share in 21 Western democracies in 2018. [6] This was a decline from 37% in 1960. [6]


French Revolution to World War II

The prominent inspiration for the centre-right (especially in Britain) was the traditionalist conservatism of Edmund Burke. [7] Burke's traditionalist conservatism was more moderate than the continental conservatism developed by Joseph de Maistre in France, that upon experiencing the French Revolution completely denounced the status quo that existed immediately prior to the revolution (unlike Burke) and de Maistre sought a reactionary counter-revolution that would dismantle all modern society and return it to a strictly religious-based society. [8] While Burke condemned the French Revolution, he had supported the American Revolution that he viewed as being a conservative revolution. [9] Burke claimed that the Americans revolted for the same reason as the English had during the Glorious Revolution, in both cases a monarch had overstepped the boundaries of his duties. [9] Burke claimed that the American Revolution was justified because King George III had overstepped his customary rights by imposing taxes on the American colonists without their consent. [9] Burke opposed the French Revolution because he opposed its anti-traditionalism and its use of abstract ideas, such as the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and its universal egalitarianism that Burke rebuked by claiming that it effectively endorsed "hairdressers" being able to be politicians. [9]

In Britain, the traditionalist conservative movement was represented in the British Conservative Party. [4] Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Benjamin Disraeli sought to address social problems affecting the working class due to lack of assistance from the laissez-faire economy and formed his one nation conservatism that claimed that lack of assistance for the lower classes had divided British society into two nations – the rich and the poor as the result of unrestrained private enterprise, he claimed that he sought to break down. [10] Disraeli said that he supported a united British nation while presenting the other parties representing the upper-class or the lower-class. [4] Disraeli was hostile to free trade and preferred aristocratic paternalism as well as promoting imperialism. [4] However, with the revival in Britain of the socialist movement with the rise of the Labour Party and the demise of the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party shifted to become a supporter of capitalism and an opponent of socialism, while advocacy of capitalism was promoted within the principles of traditionalist conservatism. [4]

Another centre-right movement that arose in France in response to the French Revolution was the beginning of the Christian democracy movement, where moderate conservative Catholics accepted the democratic elements of the French Revolution. [10] The first Christian democratic party was founded in Italy in 1919 by Luigi Sturzo, but it was suppressed by the Italian Fascist regime and was forced into exile in France. [10] In France, Sturzo founded an international movement that supported the creation of a European common market and European integration to prevent war, amongst those who attended the group included future German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gasperi and Robert Schuman. [10]

Post–World War II

The CDU is a conservative party representing the centre-right in Germany. Cdu-logo.svg
The CDU is a conservative party representing the centre-right in Germany.

In Europe after World War II, centre-right Christian democratic parties arose as powerful political movements while the Catholic traditionalist movements in Europe diminished in strength. [10] Christian democratic movements became major movements in Austria, the Benelux countries, Germany and Italy. [10]

Neoliberalism arose as an economic theory by Milton Friedman that condemned government interventionism in the economy that it associated with socialism and collectivism. [11] Neoliberals rejected Keynesian economics that they claimed advocate too much emphasis on relieving unemployment in response to their observance of the Great Depression, identifying the real problem as being with inflation and advocate the policy of monetarism to deal with inflation. [12]

Neoliberal economics was endorsed by Conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who adapted it as part of a free-market conservatism closer to the developments in American conservatism, while traditionalist conservatism became less influential within the British Conservative Party. [13] However, the British Conservative Party still has a large traditional conservative base, particularly the conservative Cornerstone Group. Thatcher publicly supported centre-right politics and supported its spread in Eastern Europe after the end of the Marxist-Leninist regimes in the late 1980s and early 1990s. [14] After the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, a variety of centre-right political parties have emerged there, including many that support neoliberalism. [15] [16]

In the United States, President Ronald Reagan (1981–1989) adopted many policies stemming from Milton Friedman's economic theories, including principles from the Chicago school of economics and monetarism. [17] While social conservatives and the rise of the Christian Right contributed greatly to forming the Reagan Coalition, the President also had the support of centre-right economic neoliberals. Using Friedman's neoliberal theories, the Reagan administration cut the marginal income tax from 70% to 28%[ citation needed ] and slowed government spending growth from 10% in 1982 to 1% in 1987, thereby reducing inflation from 13.5% to 4.1% and civilian unemployment from 7.6% to 5.5% of the workforce throughout his tenure. [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Classical liberalism is a political ideology and a branch of liberalism that advocates free market and laissez-faire economics; civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on limited government, economic freedom, political freedom and freedom of speech. It was developed in the early 19th century, building on ideas from the previous century as a response to urbanization and to the Industrial Revolution in Europe and North America.

Right-wing politics Political alignment favoring traditional politics

Right-wing politics are generally characterized by support for the view that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics, authority or tradition. Hierarchy and inequality may be seen as natural results of traditional social differences or competition in market economies.

Thatcherism British conservative ideology

Thatcherism is a form of British conservative ideology named after Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher. The term has been used to describe the principles of the British government under Thatcher from the 1979 general election to her resignation in 1990, and continuing into the Conservative governments under John Major and David Cameron. Proponents of Thatcherism are referred to as Thatcherites.

One-nation conservatism, also known as one-nationism or Tory democracy, is a paternalistic form of British political conservatism. It advocates the preservation of established institutions and traditional principles within a political democracy, in combination with social and economic programmes designed to benefit the ordinary person. According to this political philosophy, society should be allowed to develop in an organic way, rather than being engineered. It argues that members of society have obligations towards each other and particularly emphasises paternalism, meaning that those who are privileged and wealthy should pass on their benefits. It argues that this elite should work to reconcile the interests of all classes, including labour and management, rather than identifying the good of society solely with the interests of the business class.

Christian democracy is a political ideology that emerged in 19th-century Europe under the influence of Catholic social teaching, as well as neo-Calvinism. It was conceived as a combination of modern democratic ideas and traditional Christian values, incorporating social justice as well as the social teachings espoused by the Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Pentecostal and other denominational traditions of Christianity in various parts of the world. After World War II, Catholic and Protestant movements of neo-scholasticism and the Social Gospel, respectively, played a role in shaping Christian democracy.

New Right is a term for various right-wing political groups or policies in different countries during different periods. One prominent usage was to describe the emergence of certain Eastern European parties after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the United States, the so-called 'Second New Right' campaigned against abortion, homosexuality, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), the Panama Canal Treaty, affirmative action, and most forms of taxation.

Liberal conservatism is a political ideology combining conservative policies with liberal stances, especially on economic issues but also on social and ethical matters, representing a brand of political conservatism strongly influenced by liberalism.

Conservatism in the United States is a political and social philosophy whose historical characterization prioritized American traditions, conservatives ideologies, republicanism, and limited federal governmental power in relation to U.S. states, referred to more simply as limited government and states' rights. Conservative and Christian media organizations along with American conservative figures are influential, and American conservatism is one of the majority political ideologies within the Republican Party.

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Right-libertarianism, also known as libertarian capitalism or right-wing libertarianism, is a libertarian political philosophy that supports capitalist property rights and defends market distribution of natural resources and private property. The term right-libertarianism is used to distinguish this class of views on the nature of property and capital from left-libertarianism, a type of libertarianism that combines self-ownership with an egalitarian approach to natural resources. In contrast to socialist libertarianism, right-libertarianism supports free-market capitalism. Like most forms of libertarianism, it supports civil liberties, especially natural law, negative rights, the non-aggression principle, and a major reversal of the modern welfare state.

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Libertarian conservatism, also referred to as conservative libertarianism and conservatarianism, is a political philosophy that combines conservatism and libertarianism, representing the libertarian wing of conservatism and vice versa.

Traditionalist conservatism Political ideology advocating traditional morals and social order

Traditionalist conservatism, often known as classical conservatism, is a political and social philosophy that emphasizes the importance of transcendent moral principles, allegedly manifested through certain natural laws to which society should adhere prudently. Traditionalist conservatism is based on Aristotle's and Edmund Burke's political views. Traditionalists value social ties and the preservation of ancestral institutions above what they see as excessive individualism.

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