Much ink has been spilled in recent years on the woes of centre-left parties across the West – some of it prematurely, as Joe Biden, Olaf Scholz, Spain’s Pedro Sánchez, Australia’s Anthony Albanese and perhaps soon Keir Starmer in Britain can attest. The bigger and quite possibly more lasting story of political decline, however, is on the centre-right. A decade ago, moderate conservative figures like David Cameron and Angela Merkel were pre-eminent. Today the tendencies those leaders represented have largely been sidelined, the parties in question having moved to the right, been ecclipsed by more hardline forces, or both.
In this long read Jeremy Cliffe, the New Statesman’s writer at large, charts that international pattern, from Trumpism in the US to the rise of the hard-right in European countries such as France, Italy, Spain and Sweden. He also explores the deeper structural forces behind those shifts and how the electoral and sociological foundations that long sustained moderate conservatism – and made it the dominant Western political tendency for much of the past seven decades – are breaking up. What, he asks, does the future hold for right-of-centre politics?
Written and read by Jeremy Cliffe
This article was originally published as the New Statesman’s 15 February 2023 magazine cover story. You can read the text version here.
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