For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Centre-right politics.

Centre-right politics

Centre-right politics lean to the right of the political spectrum, but are closer to the centre. Parties of the centre-right generally support liberal democracy, capitalism, the market economy, private property rights, and a modest welfare state. They support conservatism and economic liberalism and oppose socialism and communism.[1]

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.[2][3][4] This general economic shift toward capitalism affected centre-right movements, such as the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom, and the Republican Party of the United States, which responded by becoming supportive of capitalism.[5]

The International Democracy Union is an alliance of centre-right (as well as some further right-wing) political parties – including the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom, 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.[6]

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 and Third Way. 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.

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, deregulation, 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.[7] This was a decline from 37% in 1960.[7]

History since the French Revolution

Edmund Burke in England

The prominent inspiration for the centre-right (especially in Britain) was the traditionalist conservatism of Edmund Burke.[8] 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.[9] While Burke condemned the French Revolution, he had supported the American Revolution that he viewed as being a conservative revolution.[10]

Burke said 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.[10] Burke said 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.[10] 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.[10]

United States

In the United States the Federalist Party was dominated by staunch conservatives led by Alexander Hamilton. The Federalists denounced the French Revolution.[11] However there was a more moderate faction led by President John Adams during the 1798 Quasi-War against France. The Adams coalition secured peace with France, and also installed John Marshall, who led the Supreme Court for three decades. Historian Sarah Kreps in 2018 argues the Adams faction corresponds to "today's right-of-center party."[12]

In the 1830s the Whig Party emerged with a strong base in business, the professions and commercial farming, to lead the center-right. The center-left was led by the Jeffersonians and the Jacksonians in the Democratic Party. In the turmoil of the 1850s a new party emerged to lead the center-right to victory, the Republican Party.[13]

In the early 20th century Republicans split between the left-wing under Theodore Roosevelt and the center-right under William Howard Taft; Taft defeated Roosevelt for control of the party in 1912. According to David Hackett Fischer, as president (1909-1913) and chief justice of the Supreme Court (1921-1930) Taft's political position:[14]

was conservative and very old-fashioned in its idea of protecting property, preserving personal liberty, upholding the Constitution, and supporting the existing structure of American society. At the same time it was also progressive in its idea of a small but highly efficient government that intervened actively for the general good....Altogether, William Howard Taft's progressive conservatism combined new instruments of modern government with old ideas of liberty of contract, property rights, personal liberty, and commercial freedom.

British Conservative Party

In Britain, the traditionalist conservative movement was represented in the British Conservative Party.[5] 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 said that he sought to break down.[15] Disraeli said that he supported a united British nation while presenting the other parties representing the upper-class or the lower-class.[5] Disraeli was hostile to free trade and preferred aristocratic paternalism as well as promoting imperialism.[5] 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.[5]

Christian Democratic party in France and Italy

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.[15] 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.[15] 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.[15]

Post–World War II

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.[15] Christian democratic movements became major movements in Austria, the Benelux countries, Germany and Italy.[15]

Neoliberalism arose as an economic theory by Milton Friedman that condemned government interventionism in the economy that it associated with socialism and collectivism.[16] 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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19] After the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, a variety of centre-right political parties have emerged there, including many that support neoliberalism.[20][21]

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.[22] 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.[23]

See also


  1. ^ Rohrschneider, Robert (May 2000). "The New Politics of the Right: Neo-Populist Parties and Movements in Established Democracies. Han-Georg Betz , Stefan Immerfall". The Journal of Politics. 62 (2): 619–620. doi:10.1086/jop.62.2.2647710. ISSN 0022-3816.
  2. ^ Kahan, Alan S. (2010), "The unexpected honeymoon of mind and money, 1730–1830", in Kahan, Alan S. (ed.), Mind vs. money: the war between intellectuals and capitalism, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, p. 88, ISBN 978-1412810630.
  3. ^ Shenon, Philip; Greenhouse, Linda (17 August 1988). "Washington talk: Briefing; the King and the Joker". The New York Times. This is the title of nobility clause, which provides: 'No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States'.(subscription required)
  4. ^ Wood, Diane (October 2005). "Our 18th century constitution in the 21st century world". New York University Law Review, Madison Lecture. 80 (4). New York University School of Law: 1079–1107. Archived from the original on 20 October 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2015. Debate [over the Constitution's] meaning is inevitable whenever something as specific as the... Titles of Nobility Clause is not at issue pp. 105. Pdf. Archived 20 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b c d e Adams, Ian (2001). Political ideology today (2nd ed.). Manchester New York: Manchester University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0719060205.
  6. ^ International Democrat Union. (History. Archived 1 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine Founders. Archived 1 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine Declaration of Principles. Archived 1 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine) Accessed on 22 June 2012.
  7. ^ a b Gidron, Noam; Ziblatt, Daniel (11 May 2019). "Center-Right Political Parties in Advanced Democracies". Annual Review of Political Science. 22 (1): 17–35. doi:10.1146/annurev-polisci-090717-092750. ISSN 1094-2939.
  8. ^ Eatwell, Roger (1990), "The nature of the Right: the right as a variety of styles of thought", in Eatwell, Roger; O'Sullivan, Noël (eds.), The nature of the right: American and European politics and political thought since 1789, Themes in right-wing ideology and politics series, Boston: Twayne Publishers, p. 66, ISBN 9780861879342, Burke has been seen as the father of modern British conservatism, which serves as the best example of the moderate right tradition.
  9. ^ Adams, Bert; Sydie, R.A. (2001), "Section I The origins of sociological theory: the philosophical precursors of sociology", in Adams, Bert; Sydie, R.A. (eds.), Sociological theory, Thousand Oaks, California: Pine Forge Press, pp. 25–26, ISBN 9780761985570.
  10. ^ a b c d Bridge, Carl (1985), "Burke and the conservative tradition", in Close, David H.; Bridge, Carl (eds.), Revolution: a history of the idea, London: Croom Helm Ltd., p. 81, ISBN 9780709934202.
  11. ^ David Hackett Fischer, "The revolution of American conservatism: The Federalist Party in the era of Jeffersonian democracy." (1965).
  12. ^ Sarah Kreps, Taxing Wars: The American Way of War Finance and the Decline of Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2018) p. 53 and chapter 3.
  13. ^ Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (2005) pp. 505, 632, 644. [ online].
  14. ^ David Hackett Fischer, Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America's Founding Ideas (Oxford UP, 2004) pp. 411-412.
  15. ^ a b c d e f Adams, Ian (2001). Political ideology today (2nd ed.). Manchester New York: Manchester University Press. p. 59. ISBN 9780719060205.
  16. ^ Adams, Ian (2001). Political ideology today (2nd ed.). Manchester New York: Manchester University Press. p. 206. ISBN 9780719060205.
  17. ^ Adams, Ian (2001). Political ideology today (2nd ed.). Manchester New York: Manchester University Press. p. 207. ISBN 9780719060205.
  18. ^ Adams, Ian (2001). Political ideology today (2nd ed.). Manchester New York: Manchester University Press. p. 58. ISBN 9780719060205.
  19. ^ Evans, Eric J. (1997), "Thatcher abroad III: the bringer of freedom? Principle, pragmatism and the limits of power", in Evans, Eric J. (ed.), Thatcher and Thatcherism, London New York: Routledge, p. 107, ISBN 9780203178980, Thatcher praised the winning party of the Hungarian election of 1990 as what she called a "really genuine centre-right government".
  20. ^ Hanley, Seán (2006), "Blue velvet: the rise and decline of the new Czech Right", in Szczerbiak, Aleks; Hanley, Seán (eds.), Centre-right parties in post-communist East-Central Europe, London New York: Routledge, p. 37, ISBN 9780415347815.
  21. ^ Smith, John (4 March 2015). "Labour's lackluster tuition fee pledge is the tip of the iceberg: mainstream politics is melting away". openDemocracy.
  22. ^ Cornwell, Rupert (17 November 2006). "Milton Friedman, free-market economist who inspired Reagan and Thatcher, dies aged 94". The Independent. Washington: Independent Print Ltd.
  23. ^ "The second American revolution: Reagonomics". Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Centre-right politics
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 🎉! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?