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Historically, parties of the right have consistently governed most advanced industrial democracies. However, in recent years, these parties have been suffering losses in their respective countries and an enormous amount of left-wing party successes has been taking place. What has caused this fluctuation? Many believe that this “huge political shift (CP Article 6:16)” has been caused by the United States’ Clinton administration’s huge success in cutting the national deficit, creating new jobs, and keeping unemployment and inflation rates at an all-time low. With the United States doing so well under the rule of a liberal government, many feel their respective nations can follow our lead.
With the United States’ governmental success over the past decade has come a domino
effect throughout all the advanced industrial nations worldwide. In France, 1997, President Jacques Chirac received a stunning upset when his conservative party lost majority leading in the parliamentary elections to the left-wing parties. This, after calling the election a year early due to his obvious over-confidence in a victory for his party (CP Article 2:5). England faced a similar shock only a month before when young left-wing party participant Tony Blair was elected as the Prime Minister and “tossed away centuries of British custom (CP Article 5:14)” by beginning his first cabinet meeting by requesting, “Just call me Tony,” when it has been tradition to “address one another by their titles (CP Article 5:14).” Even the Japanese, who had always been big on government regulation, have begun to limit their government’s “interference in the economy (CP Article 6:16).” They feel a “freer” government will help them to meet the
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American lead in new technologies, for they believe the United States’ technological advances are due to “flexible capital markets and Clintonian pragmatism (CP Article 6:16).”
However, the fact that the United States led a good example of a strong liberal government does not explain why citizens worldwide in advanced industrial countries have
of these governments, no matter what the name of the party, have been run by right-wing groups for centuries now. Even the United States was originally run by men who’s ideas paralleled those of the Conservative Party today and those men who voted were all for the same thing, a pseudo-capitalist society. They wanted to keep the money where it was at, as do most right-wing supporters today. Statistically, most right-wing party voters in the United States are in the upper-income bracket, morally and religiously conservative, small-business owners and/or evangelican Christians (K, pg. 308). And, it’s the same thing globally. Generally, conservative, wealthy men are the ones who created their form of government and are the ones who have been voting for it to stay conservative over the past centuries.
Whereas the right-wing party tends to encompass and target a small group that makes up a large portion of our nation, the left-wing party appeals to many small groups that may or may not make up a significant portion of the population. Liberal parties tend to target “urban populations, the elderly, racial and ethnic minorities, owners of export-oriented businesses, unionized labor, and increasingly, working women (K, pg. 308).” Liberals also tend to be vocal on issues such as pro-choice in abortion issues, pro-homosexual rights, pro-environmental issues, and pro-gun control. These standings keep the government pertinent in the nation’s well being, but keeps the government out of individuals’ personal affairs.
But, these separations have been drawn in the sand for some time now, so why is it that the Conservative Party is taking a hit just recently in advanced industrial nations? It’s quite simple. The conservative wealthy men are becoming a minority in this country as well as around
the world. Nationally, the United States will be seeing the largest elderly community ever in the next few years due to the “baby-boomers” reaching retirement age. This combined with the “Generation-X” adolescents reaching the voting age makes for at least two large groups who are statistically liberal to be likely to vote accordingly in years to come.
Now, left-wing parties all over are finding they have more recipients than expected, and right-wing parties are hunting for new voters. These new liberal participants are a combination of the “baby-boomers” and the “Generation-Xers” swaying to left-wing views and the fact that people everywhere are tired of living in a society run by their parents’ or grand parents’ way of thinking. People are trying to push out of the World War era mentality and are embracing more open-minded ways of living for the future. Look at the way Tony Blair, Prime Minister of England, describes himself as “the product of the ‘rock and roll generation’ (CP Article 5:14).” Times are changing, and people are following accordingly.
There is also another explanation for this global shift to left-wing parties in advanced industrialized democracies. There seems to have been an emergence of “new” parties throughout many of these nations that consider themselves to be more moderate than either right-wing or left-wing parties. These parties, the “Third Way” in England, “New Middle” in Germany, and “New Dmocrats” in the United States, have led to candidates having basically the same substance (class lecture, 02-10-00). With candidates running similarly based campaigns, all the voter really has to go on as far as electing an official is image, which has led to an increasingly “Americanization” of campaigns throughout all advanced industrialized countries (class lecture, 02-10-00). Therefore, the voter is basically forced to choose it’s candidate less based on the few small differences in campaign stands and more on who has cleanest background and nicest smile.
So, what is the true reason for this international shift to left-sided parties? I think the reason is a blend of all the reasons mentioned. I do think that the United States paved the way for other countries to follow suit, but our country becoming more liberal is not a good enough reason alone to follow the same road our country did. I think world wide, citizens have grown tired of following in the same conservative path our forefathers did and are looking to make a dramatic change in the way in which we live that reflects that the government is serving us and not the men who originally created it. And, as we, the people, make this change, political parties are beginning to cater to what the people want instead of what their party should or always has stood for. These changes are all symbolic of our need to make a transition as we enter the new millennium, and I think that that is what the shift to left-wing parties stands for as well-times changing.