January 23, 2018

AT THE eND OF hISTORY, WE HAVE NO POLICY DIFFERENCES:

If You're a Centrist, Be Proud of It : Germany, like France, shows how centrism can be an effective governing platform. (Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg)

Judging by the policies they pursue together, however, they're natural allies. Union stands for fiscal conservatism (as in deficit-free budgets) and supporting Germany's traditional, export-oriented industries. The SPD is for using the proceeds of Union frugality to fund moderate improvements to Germany's already strong social safety net, the integration of immigrants, and fixing the fragmented, obsolete education system. It, too, is a champion of traditional German companies, which allow workers' councils to play a major part in management. The two parties' policy objectives are, to an outside observer, complementary parts of a sensible program that could be put forward by the same centrist, strongly pro-European Union political force. There's not enough contradiction between them to create real competition on an ideological level. 

Perhaps the strongest reason Merkel's grouping and SPD aren't actually one party has to do with the parties' more radical wings. In Sunday's SPD vote, delegations from some former East German states and from Berlin were for an end to coalition talks and a new election. In the east, the SPD has a strong competitor in far-left Die Linke, and it has to fight for the leftist vote -- an effort an alliance with the center right can only undermine. For their part, the more conservative, anti-immigrant CDU-CSU members don't see the SPD as a desirable coalition partner -- they'd rather fight for their voters with the AfD.

One could argue, however, that politicians and activists on the centrist parties' fringes ought to decide what they want to do: beat the radicals on their flank or join them. If it's the former, it may make more sense to compete from a consciously, even defiantly moderate position. If it's the latter, the identity problem re-emerges. Today, the middle class is losing interest in traditional left-right distinctions because the traditionally defined blue-collar class is shrinking. It may be time for politicians who represent the middle class to admit the obvious: Centrism is an ideology in its own right. Even in the U.S., there's far more similarity between Hillary Clinton Democrats and Jeb Bush Republicans than between, say, the supporters of Clinton and Bernie Sanders, or those of Jeb Bush and Donald Trump. One can see how centrists from both parties are reluctantly making common cause against Trumpism. 

It's why all Anglospheric elections are won by the most Third Way party.

Posted by at January 23, 2018 11:59 AM

  

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