Conservatism European Style October 1, 2009Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
Tags: conservatism, German elections, social democracy
Stories like this one in the Baltimore Sun about the recent German elections are fundamentally misleading:
In a year when capitalists and bankers are widely reviled, German voters did something strange; they dumped the pro-worker, pro-low-unemployment Social Democrats and chose the centrist, pro-business Free Democrats as Ms. Merkel’s coalition partner. The Social Democrats were trounced from the center and the left because of the economy, and the Free Democrats filled the gap. Even though Ms. Merkel remains at the helm, many policy differences will likely result from this coalition – changes that matter to the U.S.
Social Democrats are losing elections in Europe but social democracy is alive and well because, in Europe, there are responsible conservatives who accept the responsibility of government to improve the lives of citizens.
As Steve Erlanger writes:
Europe’s center-right parties have embraced many ideas of the left: generous welfare benefits, nationalized health care, sharp restrictions on carbon emissions, the ceding of some sovereignty to the European Union. But they have won votes by promising to deliver more efficiently than the left, while working to lower taxes, improve financial regulation, and grapple with aging populations.
Europe’s conservatives, says Michel Winock, a historian at the Paris Institut d’Études Politiques, “have adapted themselves to modernity.” When Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Germany’s Angela Merkel condemn the excesses of the “Anglo-Saxon model” of capitalism while praising the protective power of the state, they are using Socialist ideas that have become mainstream, he said.
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