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SAGE Modern Politics Series Volume 22 sponsored by the European Consortium for Political Research/ECPR



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Preface, Introduction and Chapter 9 © Brian Girvin 1988 Chapter 2 © Gillian Peele 1988 Chapter 3 © Volkmar Lauber 1988 Chapter 4 © Edgar Grande 1988 Chapter 5 © Paul Lucardie 1988 Chapter 6 © Wolfgang C. Miller 1988 Chapter 7 © Stig-Bjorn Ljunggren 1988 Chapter 8 © José R. Montero 1988 Chapter 10 © David Broughton 1988

First published 1988 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in El retrieval system, transmitted or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without permission in

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The Transformation of contemporary conservatism. (Sage modern politics series, 22). 1. Political ideologies : Conservatism I. Girvin, Brian

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1 Introduction: Varieties of Conservatism 2






Change and Continuity in French Conservatism since 1944 Volkmar Lauber


Neoconservatism without Neoconservatives? The Renaissance and Transformation of Contemporary German Conservatism Edgar Grande


Conservatism in the Netherlands: Fragments and Fringe Groups Paul Lucardie


6 Conservatism and the Transformation of the Austrian People's Party Wolfgang C. Rifler 7


British Conservatism: Ideological Change and Electoral

Uncertainty 3

Brian Garvin


Conservatism in Norway and Sweden Stig-Bjr8rn Ljunggren


More than Conservative, Less than Neoconservative: Alianza Popular in Spain José R. Montero


The United States: Conservative Politics in a Liberal Society Brian Garvin


10 The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties David Broughton




Notes on the Contributors


8 9


The essays in this volume are a result of co-operation which resulted from participation in the ECPR work 'Conservative Parties, Adaptability and Change in Western Democracies' at the University of Gothenburg in April 1986. The attraction of the annual ECPR workshops is that they allow contributors to discuss a common theme over a five-day period and provide an opportunity to explore in detail the most appropriate method of advancing the study of a specific topic. At the Gothenburg workshop it was agreed that the best method of studying contemporary conservatism was to focus on the extent to which the nature of conservatism had changed in the recent past. The essays contained in this volume are the first product of what will be a series of studies on all aspects of conservatism in contemporary liberal democracies. A number of those who participated in thl workshop did not contribute to this volume. However, their contribution to the discussion was of immense importance to the development of the themes which finally emerged and which are, in part, reflected here. A special thanks to Michael Burgess, Peter Fotheringham, Chris Rudd, Rei Shiratori, Roland Sturm and Alastair Thomas. The book would not have been completed without the assistance of Mrs Norma Buckley and Ms Olla Barry who retyped each draft of all the chapters. Ms Jacqueline Joyce translated the chapter on Spain at very short notice, for which I am most appreciative. Clare Crowley read the entire manuscript, bringing to bear on the text her usual literary skill. Without her the project would have taken much longer to complete . II

Brian Girvin Cork

1 Introduction: Varieties of Conservatism Brian G f r v f n

Since 1979 conservative parties in many parts of the world have won a series of elections which has led many to conclude that the 1980s has become a decade of conservative dominance. Such a conclusion appears valid at the electoral level. The British Conservative Party has now been returned to power on three successive occasions. In the US Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984, while in West Germany the social democratic-liberal coalition was replaced by a CDU-CSU-

liberal coalition which subsequently won two elections. This trend is reinforced by evidence from other parts of Europe. In Denmark the conservative-dominated minority government retains the initiative, in France the Right has replaced the Socialists at the parliamentary level, while in the Netherlands the centre-right government maintains its control over much of the policy agenda. In Portugal the recent general election confirmed the dominance of the Right which is now committed to reversing those elements of the revolutionary period contained in the constitution. More fundamentally, these electoral victories have been reinforced

by a series of policy changes throughout the democratic world which often reflect conservative influence. Thus, privatization is widespread, government spending is being curtailed and taxation policy modified.

In many areas of social policy the collectivist nature of the welfare state is being curtailed. Nationalism, though not a specifically conservative value, has been successfully used by the Right for political mobilization. Nor are these trends restricted to traditional conservative constituencies, new groups of voters have often supported conservatism or other right-wing parties and adopted their values. Such has been the change that social democratic parties have had to accommodate some of the policies most closely identified with the Right. Thus, it does appear that conservatism has continued to be successful as a political force

during the current decade. The question that this book asks is whether this marks a fundamental change in the nature of conservatism and what impact, if any, this change might have on liberal democratic politics.

This recent success for conservatism is not a unique occurrence, in many political systems conservative parties (or others on the Right)


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

have maintained effective political control throughout the twentieth century. Conservatism has played an influential role in the evolution of liberal democratic politics since the French Revolution. In its original form, and particularly for most of the nineteenth century, conservatism opposed the claims of 'modernity', that is, the radical consequences associated with nationalism, democracy, industrialization and secularization. Towards the end of that century a number of conservative formations began to jettison their reactionary identity and sought accommodation with the new social and political forces. Between 1870 and 1914 the Right was transformed in many cases from an isolated and self-perpetuating elite into a political movement that was often reformist, sometimes democratic, and increasingly nationalistic. By 1914 conservatives had learnt to mobilize mass movements to compete in the democratic arena. Increasingly, conservatives were successful in giving their meaning to the concepts that had been the preserve of radicals and socialists (Eley, 1980, Mayer, 1981). The collapse of liberalism by the 1920s in the face of an insurgent working class and the

discovery that majorities are frequently conservative cemented this new phase of adaptation. By absorbing the main themes of the modern world conservatives had turned them to their advantage. The rise of Fascism and Nazism, which reflected in part the successful modernization of conservativism, disrupted these developments. By 1945 the Right generally, and conservatives in particular, had been seriously weakened. The Left dominated most political systems immediately after the war. In doing so they established the political agenda for the next thirty years and assured their political hegemony even when, as in Britain and the us, they were not in actual power. This thirty-year consensus included a commitment to full employment, to government intervention in the economy, to expansionary economic and welfare policies, and to Keynesianism. Conservative parties in government administered these policies in an

essentially passive fashion. The consensus was accepted for electoral reasons, as a consequence conservativism as an ideology remained weak while acquiring in attenuated form many social democratic assumptions. By the 1960s the emergence of 'technocratic conservatism ', a feature noted in virtually every chapter in this volume, appeared to mark the end of conservatism as an independent intellectual force in politics. It was as if all parties were now social democratic or Keynesian, in that administration of society and the economy had

replaced politics as the main determinant of government behaviour. Writing in 1952 Peter Shore concluded that the changes in post-war conservatism did not amount to a radical departure for this political form; ' . . it is a distinguishing feature of Conservatism that it has no social goals to achieve, no major changes to make. It follows from this,


In troducnlon: Varieties

of Conservatism


and experience demonstrates the truth, that Conservative Governments are seldom memorable for their legislation, they are almost wholly concerned with administration' (quoted in Beer, l969:249). The events of the 1950s and 1960s appeared to confirm this assessment. A social democratic convergence did not occur, nor was the promise of an 'end of ideology' realized. During the 19605 and early 1970s, just as many conservatives were moving towards corporatism, liberal democratic capitalism entered the first phase of what has now become a twentyyear crisis. The Left (in all its forms) returned to ideology and attempted to press further its advantages. In respon al. conservatism entered a period of reflection which led to the assertion of a new set of policies. What has become known as the 'New Right' or 'neoconservatisml but which will be described here as 'contemporary conservatism', grew out of a contest both political and intellectual with the New Left, the new social movements, and feminism. The changes which took place during the 1960s and 1970s provided conservatives in most liberal democratic societies with a window of opportunity through which they could discard their adherence to the social democratic consensus, challenge the consequences of Keynesianism and the welfare state, and provide a conservative political agenda. At first the conservative parties attracted support from those threatened by the changes which were taking place in society. This allowed conservatives to mobilize



opinion electorally from the end of the 1960s. While this has always been a feature of conservatism, it was accompanied by the formation of a positive and ideologically integrated policy framework. Although devised as a reaction to the Left, it was not reactionary in the sense of demanding a return to a superior past. The strategy of contemporary conservatism involved accepting the broad outlines of existing society and politics, but inserting its interpretation of that society into its

structure. Contemporary conservatives remain conservative because they attempt to conserve the present from a possible future, the realization of which they believe impossible. They claim that the objectives of the new social movements are illusory, the assumptions of which are based on an inadequate understanding of human behaviour (especially political behaviour). Such an approach places contemporary conservatism in opposition to many radical demands, but in many cases the opposition is based on means not ends. A conservative would not

necessarily be opposed to disarmament or equality between the sexes or races, however the means to achieve these ends differ radically from those of the Left. This opens up a more fundamental distinction: that between collectivism and individualism. The new social movements are essentially collectivist in their means, whereas contemporary


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

conservatism believes that individualism should be the basis for action and policy. The most vivid example of this difference can be found in the contrasting approaches to the state. The extent to which conservatism has been transformed over the past twenty years can be assessed from the individual chapters in this book. In policy terms contemporary conservatism has challenged the

social democratic or Keynesian consensus which has endured since 1945. At a number of levels the conservatives have fixed the main items on the political agenda: deface, the economy, law and order. The

success of contemporary conservatism has been uneven in comparative terms. However, in virtually every case, and in others not analysed here, there has been a movement in policy and politics towards the

Right. The 1980s has become a decade of conservative resurgence throughout the liberal democratic polity, this is the case even when the Right is not frequently in power (as in Norway or Sweden). and occurs even when social democratic parties are in power (the Australian Labor Party). Social democracy has been on the defensive for over a decade in most liberal democracies (Spain and Greece are exceptions),

and nowhere has it been able to formulate a credible alternative to conservatism. Indeed, the most likely outcome for social democracy is that it will acquire many of the attributes of conservatism in order to prevail at the polls, but in doing so will have to jettison much of its socialism. What will remain is a commitment to the welfare state, though this may be much reduced and weakened.

The British case is perhaps the most explicit example of the move away from a social democratic-corporatist framework to one where neoliberalisrn and conservatism are dominant. As Gillian Peele shows the three recent conservative election victories differ qualitatively from those of the 1950s. The British Conservative Party itself is a different

party, the party system has been significantly altered, and so far the Conservatives have proved adept at benefiting from this. Pecle advises that caution is still necessary,

it is possible that the electoral

uncertainty and the divisions within the other parties will not always work to the Conservatives' advantage, Despite this, it is possible to

conclude that the British case, at first seen as a laboratory experiment in neoliberalism, is now a paradigm for other parties on the Right. These parties may not be as aggressive as the British Conservatives, but the political nuances overlap. Thatcher has made serious inroads into the post-war political culture in Britain which was based on full employment, state intervention, and the welfare state. The l a b o r movement, which had been the main beneficiary of the political culture, has been deprived of much of its social power. There has been a reassertion of bourgeois and managerial influence, which has reinforced a 'new individualisms Indeed, Mrs Thatcher appears well

Introduction: Varzlez°z'e5 of Conservatism


on her way to achieving one other major objectives: the destruction of

socialism and the realignment of the political system along lines determined by herself. The collapse of the SDP-Liberal Alliance following the 1987 election gives added weight to Peele's note of caution. However, the confusion in the Alliance and the continuing

weakness of the Labour Party can only work to the Conservatives' advantage. If the present Thatcher government can maintain its momentum and implement its agenda, then British politics will have undergone a decisive shift to the Right by the end of the third term. The collapse of British social democracy in the face of a renewed conservative challenge is probably the most surprising aspect of the current phase of political development. Just over a decade ago, it was being strongly predicted that liberal democracies were entering the 'era of corporatism', and that the British case was illustrative of a general trend (Winkler, 1976, Lehinbruch and Schmitter, 1982). The reasons for the failure of corporatism in Britain and elsewhere are complex, but can be related to the absence of institutional structures with a degree of

legitimacy to ensure that costs and benefits could be equitably shared during a recession. Corporatism also appeared to contribute to inflationary pressure without ensuring economic growth or full employment (see the discussions in Goldthorpe, 1984). While conservatism has been unable to ensure these objectives, it has

concentrated on price stability and growth even when the cost is a high level of unemployment. In general the trade-offhas proved acceptable to a majority of the electorate in a number of countries. Partial exceptions can be found in those societies where corporatist policy-making has a long tradition. Thus, it can be inferred from the

chapters on Austria by MUller and Norway and Sweden by Ljunggren that the social democratic consensus, though weakened, remains deeply rooted. The institutional structures, the nature of the trade

union movement, and the divisions on the Right continue to facilitate social democratic dominance. While corporatist forms remain important in these countries, the authors suggest that their dominance is now being tested by the conservatives. In Austria and Sweden, in particular, the social democrats have had to abandon the post-war commitment to Keynesianism and have taken on board some of the attributes of neoliberalism. In these cases we find social democrats in government, but cautiously implementing a neoliberal economic policy. While social democrats may embrace aspects of neoliberalism, this does not imply that they have adopted other elements of neoconservatism. I t is on the non-economic level that the conservatives have proved to be weakest in Scandinavia (including Denmark), and in Austria. A tighter fiscal policy, the reduction of' taxation, and

controlling state expenditure and industry does not amount to


The Transformation

of Contemporary


neoconservatism (nor is it incompatible with social democracy). In this group of examples, the impact of conservatism remains limited, on welfare and full employment the social democrats retain an advantage. This contrasts with the British situation, where full employment has been abandoned and the welfare state is being undermined with little cost to the Conservatives, in Austria and Sweden the political culture remains collectivist and this continues to facilitate a corporatist solution. Whether these social democratic parties can maintain the distinction between economic policy and other elements ofneoconservatism remains to be seen: the continuing weakness of conservatism in these societies lends support to the view that they can retain the political initiative. This phenomenon can also be seen in two non-European examples : the Labor Party in Australia and the New Zealand Labour Party have been returned to power recently after administering a severe neoliberal economic programme to their respective societies. Success for social democrats in these cases is more unusual than in Austria or Sweden. Both parties were breaking with much that was accepted by the political culture, particularly where the role of the state in economic policy was concerned. Yet neoliberal economic policy has not been accompanied by a move to the Right on other issues. In Australia Bob Hawke's government has been able to secure a form of wage control through corporatist bargaining, and to date this has contributed to economic growth. In New Zealand, the Labour approach involves a commitment to neoliberal economic policies, while maintaining the

welfare stale and pursuing an aggressive anti-nuclear stance. The Finance Minister expresses a philosophy which does not differ appreciably from that of Thatcher: 'We must cut personal and corporate taxes still further and keep up the momentum. We must get government out of business


set the guidelines, the policies, the

objectives, and then leave individuals free to make the best possible use of everything they have got. We must look after individuals who need help, but we've got to create a society which enables people to move off dependency rather than one which locks them into it," (Financial Times, 10 August 1987). This appeal to the priority of the market and individualism over collectivism is the surest indication that the post-war consensus has collapsed.

The difference is now between cautious and radical

individualism rather than, as was the case during the 1950s and 1960s, between cautious and radical Keynesianism (or collectivism). This becomes apparent even where, as Lauber shows in his chapter on France, both Right and Left very reluctantly divest themselves of the

state apparatus. Despite this, the return of the Right to power demonstrates the subtle shifts that have taken place. The election result

Introduction: Varieties

of Conservatism


was more a rejection of the Socialists than an endorsement of the Right. The Chirac government has promoted policies which are comparable to those of the neoconservatives elsewhere in Europe, but many of them are policies initially introduced by the Socialists. It seems that the balance of opinion has moved to the Right on economic issues. The Socialist government found that traditional demand management techniques or recourse to nationalization were no longer

successful instruments for promoting economic growth. This led, during the latter half of the Socialist government, to a return to neoliberal economic policy, one followed with ease by the Right.

However, to isolate the convergence on economic issues across most of the political spectrum would involve ignoring the divergences which exist. In France the traditional differences between Left and Right concentrate on equality, distribution, and welfare. But there are also complex differences within the Right, most seriously between the authoritarian populism of the Gaullists and the liberalism of the UD P. These explicit differences in France draw attention to the continuing tension between liberalism and conservatism which can be found in other political systems. Yet the convergence between liberalism and conservatism on economic issues has allowed a coalition structure to emerge in many parts of Europe to replace the centre-left. Despite the tension between the two ideologies, they have enough in common to co-operate at governmental level in France, Germany and the Netherlands among others. What has occurred in these systems is that conservatism, or more often Christian Democracy, has adopted the main outline of neoliberal economic policies, and this laid the basis for a new relationship between parties which have quite distinct historical antecedents. For most of the period since 1945 Christian Democratic parties willingly accepted the mixed economy model and rejected neoliberal indivi-

dualism (Irving, 1979). Liberals and conservatives continue to differ on a number of issues including social policy, individual liberty, and (sometimes) foreign policy. These differences are particularly overt in the case of Germany, as Grande shows. The German case is further complicated not only by differences between the Liberals and the CDU, but by those between the CDU and its Bavarian sister party the

CSU which expresses a strongly authoritarian variant of conservatism. Grande concludes that the impact of the liberal conservative government on Germany has been limited by these divisions, and also by the

state structure and the party structure. He also shows, however, that in the Federal Republic, as elsewhere, neoconservatism while not restricted to one party is a response to change in the society and the political system and continues to be influential as a consequence.

Lucardie's chapter on the Netherlands demonstrates the complex


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

nature of the Right in a multi-party consociational system. He draws attention to the convergence between the CDA and the VVD on economic issues, while divisions remain over social policy. This opens up the wider question concerning the tension between "market" and 'value' conservatism (economic and moral policy). Market conservatism accepts the neoliberal critique of post-war economic policy, as such liberals, conservatives and Christian Democrats can co~operate easily. On value conservatism, however, this co-operation ends. With their roots in the Christian or traditional sections of society Christian

Democrats and many conservatives are loath to embrace value individualism and continue to accept an organic conservatism on these matters (this applies to the Gaullists and to sections of the Ovp, the CDU, the CSU and the CDA). While it is true, as Lucardie points out, that the CDA is more secular than its predecessor parties, there is still a strong commitment to Christian values. In an era of uncertainty it may well be that 'traditional' values would once again become important as a deface against rapid change. To claim that neoconservatism has become dominant in Europe may be to claim too much. The chapter on Spain by Montero shows that a political environment has emerged which prevents the

conservatives from challenging the Socialist government. Spain should be contrasted to the successful examples of conservative insurgency in Northern and Central Europe. The transition from the Franco dictatorship to democracy weakened conservative political forces and the conservative culture which had underwritten it. Politics and culture remain in flux in Spain, but it would appear that the cense rvative forces have still to develop a 'modern' identity to challenge the Left. While it is difficult to draw wider conclusions from Spain, the

continuing success of the Spanish (and the Greek) Socialists demonstrate that alternatives are available to neoconservatism.

The chapter on the United States suggests that though political systems may differ in quite fundamental ways, it is possible to draw general comparisons between Europe and America. Many of the neoconservative trends detectable in Europe are also present in the US, and the Republican Party has proved successful in maintaining a conservative policy agenda. The current limits to this agenda are also in evidence in the US. On economic and foreign policy issues, the Reagan administration has been quite successful, though both have encountered serious challenges recently. It is on social and moral issues that American conservatism, like its European counterparts, has been least successful. It draws attention to a further factor which is becoming important for conservatism, its ability (or inability) to secure electoral majorities for government and then majorities for

legislation. The British system facilitates this even though a majority

Introduction: Varierfes

of Conservatism


did not vote for the conservatives, ~the American system with its divisions of responsibility and the uropean multi-party systems tend to require compromise to realize legislative objectives. Conservative policy outcome is less clear in the latter titan in the British system, despite the merits of the respective mandate. In the American case the future of conservatism is linked closely to the outcome of the 1988 presidential election. A Democratic win will not of itself unravel the 'Reagan Revolution', but it will limit its future effectiveness. In an electoral context of considerable complexity, the future ofeonservatism rests on the outcome of that election. The chapter by Broughton moves away from the national case studies and provides an analysis of the social bases of conservative parties in nine member states of the European Community. This analysis draws attention to the centrality of the left-right dimension in the self-placement of most conservative voters. It also identifies other variables, especially religion, which correlate closely with conservative voting. It is clear from this that while each conservative party has to be analysed within a specific political culture, it is also important to isolate those variables which some or all the conservative parties have in common. lt is possible to group conservatism in liberal democracies into three broad varieties. The first of these is also the most 'modern', the liberal conservative form. This is most advanced in Britain and the US where the fusion of liberalism and conservatism is fairly complete and liberalism is represented by a single party on the Right, with a fairly homogeneous ideology an d a consistent electoral and social base. This form is strongly pro-capitalist asserting the strongest possible relationship between the market economy, individual liberty and the rule of law. Very few vestiges of nineteenth-century anti-modernism remain in this form (which can also be found in Scandinavia).

Christian Democracy is a second variant of contemporary conservatism. Its origins are quite different from liberal conservatism, while

its social and ideological base rests on denominational grounds rather than economic. The main emphasis within this form is value conservatism, an emphasis on a Christian moral order. There is considerable tension between this and the market individualism promoted by liberal conservatism; particularly for the consequences of liberal individualism. Moreover, Christian Democracy, because of the importance of value conservatism, still tends to accept an enhanced role for the state in regulating personal behaviour. Even where liberal

conservatism has most successfully penetrated traditional Christian Democracy, as in economic matters, the concept of an organic society remains


There is a growing convergence between liberal conservatism and


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of Contemporary


Christian Democracy. This rests on coalition strategy, the secularization of the electorate, and on economic matters. The main differences centre on the emphasis to be placed on the role of the state and its relationship to the individual. In contrast, the third variety, authoritarian conservatism, is very reluctant to give up control of the state apparatus believing that a strong state is necessary to protect conservative values. This form accepts state intervention in the economy and regulation of the individual. The market and the individual are believed to be anarchistic, and therefore have to be controlled for the common good. Nationalism and populism are much more influential among authoritarian conservatives than among liberal conservatives or Christian Democrats. The Gaullist party in France and Fianna Fail in Ireland are the most representative expressions of this form of conservatism in Europe, though the CSU could also be included. These three variants are not mutually exclusive, authoritarianism is an increasingly influential strand in liberal conservatism, while neoliberal economics has become a factor of importance in the other two varieties. However, they remain distinct in their ideological nuances and points of emphasis and therefore have to be analysed simultaneously as a national phenomenon, as one part of a variant, and as a segment of the general conservative constellation. Is there anything 'new' or 'contelnporary' in this? Contemporary conservatism can be defined as such because it is not simply a reaction to events.. It is similar to previous. transformations of conservatism in that it is a response to changes in the political and social environment. In particular, it involves a refusal to accept the description of presentday reality as set out by the Left. Contemporary conservatism is an alternative and parallel view of that reality and attempts to impose its political hegemony over society. Contemporary conservatism is but the latest manifestation

of a process evident since the 1870s, the

participation of conservatives in change in an attempt to mould it in a specific direction. In this context conservatism cannot be considered anti-progress, but its version of progress differs from that of the Left.

Similarities might be seen between contemporary conservatism and reformist socialism in that each works within the existing system to change it whereas their more radical counterparts are committed to the overthrow of the system. While there is often institutional continuity between the new and the old conservatives, contemporary conservatism has acquired a number of novel features. It is popular and democratic in the sense that it seeks to tap mass values and give them electoral saliency. It tends to be ineritocratic rather than elitist. The market and individualism play a central role in contemporary conservatism, whereas a more organic version of action was typical of other forms of conservatism. It also has

Inlt'oduc1'ion.' Varieties of Conservatism


attempted to be more active and radical in the promotion of its objectives than has hitherto been the case. There may be a contradiction here between the traditional appeal of conservatism to stability and security and the contemporary promotion of change and its consequent instability. This contradiction is best expressed in the tension between moral or value conservatism and market or individualistic conservatism. As can be seen in a number of the chapters in this volume this contradiction is often reflected in the different emphasis placed on these features by those identifying with the liberal or conservative

variants. While liberalism and conservatism have been traditionally antagonistic, contemporary conservatism can be characterized by a closing of the ideological gap between them. Tension will continue to manifest itself, but the most significant departure in the present phase of conservatism may be the extent to which liberalism and traditional conservatism have fused. Contemporary conservatism has been successful for a number of reasons. The failure of social democracy (and neocorporatism) during the 1970s provided a window of opportunity for conservatives to counterattack on issues where the Right was strong. On a number of issues (taxation, government spending, deface and some social values) conservatives have successfully built a coalition through mobilizing their traditional electorate, the middle classes and the petty bourgeoisie, and by attracting significant support from the service sector and the skilled working class. Although it is still too early to generalize, it is possible that service and skilled workers have acquired

values usually associated with bourgeois culture. This is also apparent through the Right giving expression to some of the authoritarian

values which are part of working-class and petty-bourgeois culture. Contemporary conservatism can provide an adequate response to the needs of a large section of many societies (for a criticism of this view,

Levitas, 1986: 12-20). Although contemporary conservatism may not have achieved hegemony over the future of liberal democratic politics (the fate of the welfare state remains the biggest challenge), it has shifted the debate onto ground most favourable to itself and may be creating an essentially conservative electorate to replace the once dominant social democratic one. References Beer, Samuel H. (1969) Modern British Politics. London: Faber. Elem, Geoff lie8o) Reshaping :he German Right. New Haven: Yale University Press. Goldthorpe, John I-I. (ed.) (1984) Order and Conflict in Contemporary Oxford: Clarendon Press.


Irving, R.E.M. (1979) The Christian Democratic Parffes in Western Europe. London: George Allen and Unwire.

12 The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism Lehmbruch, G. and P. Schmitter (eds), (1982) Patterns of Corpomtiyt Policy-Making. London and Beverly Hills: Sage.

Levitate, Ruth (1986) 'Introduction: Ideology and the New Right', PP. 1-24 in R. Levitate (ed.), The Ideology of the New Right. Cambridge: Polity Press. Mayer, Arno J. (1981) The Persistence of the Ola' Regime. London: Croom Helm. Winkler, J. (1976) 'Corporatism', Archives Européennes de Sociology, 17 (1): 100-36.

2 British Conservatism: Ideological Change and Electoral Uncertainty Gillian Peele

The ability of conservative parties and parties of the Right to adapt to economic, social and political change has long puzzled historians and political scientists. The flexibility of the British Conservative Party has

attracted the special interest of observers who have been impressed by the party's ability to survive the expansion of the suffrage, the advent of mass democracy and the coming of the welfare state. In one sense the re-election of the Conservative Party in 1987 with an overall majority of 101 seats could therefore be seen as a quite unremarkable reflection of a pattern of politics in which the Tories constituted the natural party of government. Yet there is a sense in which the Conservatives' 1987 election victory is different in kind as well in degree from the successive Conservative victories of 1951, 1955 and 1959. Not merely were the victories of 1979, 1983 and 1987 all won under a single leader whereas the earlier hat trick was accomplished under three different leaders, but there is also the crucial point that under Mrs Thatcher there has been a radical change in policy and leadership style. Any party depends for its stir¢es§*loia aiumset Of' factors


broad ideological appeal, policy credibility and organi-

zational efficiency being the most obvious. Whether or not it makes sense to reify Mrs Thatcher's blend of political ideas and leadership style as 'Thatcherism', there is little doubt that the period of Mrs Thatcher's leadership has seen significant change within the Conser-

vative Party on a number of levels.I These changes have enabled the Conservative Party to set the agenda of political debate in Britain rather than having to respond to initiatives from its opponents. It is not simply internal change which has made the years of Mrs Thatcher's leadership so interesting. In addition to ideological ferment within the party there have been major changes in the wider party system. The environment in which the Conservative Party has to operate has altered - most notably as a result of the formation of the Social Democratic Party in 1981 and its partnership with the Liberals to form the Alliance which fought the 1983 and 1987 elections as a



The Tronsformorfon

of Contemporary


single grouping. The emergence of the Alliance created a new competitive situation for the Conservatives, as well as making electoral calculations more difficult from the Conservative perspective, it has posed the possibility of a re-alignment of the party system. Inevitably such a possibility created uncertainty for all parties since they did not know how solid their vote was or even how to identify their major enemy. Thus there was the paradox that, while the ideological positions of the two major parties appeared to many observers to have become polarized over the 1970s, the advent of the Alliance and the volatility of the electorate created a climate in which all parties needed to compete for the centre ground. Conservative Ideology- Fundamental Shift or Change

of Emphasis? It has in the past been difficult to characterize the ideology of the

British Conservative Party with any precision. Indeed the British Conservatives have taken a certain pride in their lack of doctrine and in their pragmatism. Put more bluntly, as one recent commentator has suggested, 'Conservatism is essentially an opportunistic political philosophy' (Veljanovski, 1987). Certain themes, such as national unity, deface of free enterprise, the protection of property and support for traditional British institutions such as the monarchy, recur in Conservative manifestos throughout the twentieth century, al-

though the emphasis which is given to any one idea or theme will vary

from leader to leader. Some writers, such as Michael Oakeshott and Roger Scruton, it is true, have identified a conservative cast of mind

but this is not terribly helpful as a guide to Conservative policy? So what is meant by the assertion that under Mrs Thatcher's leadership the Conservative Party has become more ideological and even

doctrinaire? Is there now a coherent political philosophy of British conservatism to replace the opportunism and pragmatism which used to be its most salient features?

The answer to the last question is, in the opinion of this author, a negative. The Conservative Party in Britain has not adopted a coherent and integrated philosophy which can be used either to predict or

appraise policy. What has happened is that some sections of the Conservative Party have become more interested in the battle of ideas, in ideology and values and that the leader herself has been anxious to raise political debate above the level of routine political clashes. In


terms of economic philosophy the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher's leadership have explicitly adopted a different approach to

that of the Keynesians, although it would be a mistake to exaggerate the degree of consistency and coherence in either the economic policy

Brfrish Conservatism: Change and Uncertainty


adopted between 1979 and 1987 or the willingness of the Party to implement what has become known as 'political monetarism' (Holmes , 1985). Above all the Conservative Patty has, for reasons of ideology and practicality, proved willing to depart from the consensus of the period 1945-70.3 These three developments taken together have given

a new tone to Conservative politics but it would be a mistake to account for this new tone in simple terms of conversion to 'neoliberalism' or free market economics. The truth is that the Conservative Party is a complex entity and the policy-making process in opposition and in government is still one in which ideas and programmes have to be modified and compromised. That said, however, differences of tone can be important and it would be foolish to deny that much of what the

Conservative governments of Mrs Thatcher have done is radical and based on a different view of the state than that which prevailed in the period up until 1975. The consensus politics which dominated Britain from roughly 1945 to 1970 entailed a commitment by both major parties - Labour and Conservative - to a mixed economy and a welfare state. The period following the Second World War saw a Labour government which left a legacy to future Conservative governments in three important respects. First, the Attlee governments nationalized a number of industries thereby expanding the size of the public sector even though central government was not given direct responsibility for running these enterprises. Secondly, the Attlee governments extended welfare provision most notably by creating the National Health Service (NHS) but also by introducing a comprehensive system of benefits for all stages of life 'from the cradle to the grave'. Thirdly, although it would be a mistake to exaggerate the agreement about the detail of economic policy within the Attlee governments, there was a general commitment to the proposition that full employment should be maintained by

managing demand (Middlemas, 1986). These legacies of the Attlee governments, which were in part themselves a legacy of the industrial and political partnership of the Second World War, were broadly accepted by the Conservatives when they returned to power in 1951, although the Conservatives did denationalize iron and steel. (Iron and steel were subsequently renationalized under the Wilson government of 1964-70.) These

legacies constituted the major elements of the so-called 'Butskellite' consensus. They bound the Conservative Party to collectivism and to an approach to economic management and to social policy which made its programmes very little different from those of many European social democratic parties. They ensured that although the Conservatives were the party of free enterprise and business, there was no need for the trade unions to see a Conservative government as



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intrinsically detrimental to Labour interests. Government was, in short,

seen by Conservatives as well as Labour as having the capacity and the responsibility to tackle major social and economic problems and the state was assumed to have an expanding role in the country's affairs. To say that there was a consensus about economic management and the outlines of the welfare state is not, of course, to suggest that Conservative and Labour policies were identical over the period 194575. When the Conservatives went into opposition in 1964 after thirteen years in power, a number of changes were initiated. The system for choosing the party leader was made a more democratic one and when Edward Heath replaced Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1965 it seemed a symbolic transfer from the aristocratic element in the Conservative Party to the meritocratic one. There was a detailed and radical revision of party policy which promised more emphasis on the market and a less statist approach than had been seen in the years 1951-64. Yet Edward Heath's so-called 'quiet revolution' which was promised when the Tories came to power again in 1970 was not so much an

ideologically inspired move away from consensus politics and Keynesian economics as an attempt to bring modern methods of management and policy analysis into government. The attempt to bring the discipline of business into government even in this limited form was abandoned under pressure ofindustriai unrest and mounting unemployment (Holmes, 1982). In 1972 the' government effected a policy 'U-turn' when it adopted a prices and incomes policy and took

major powers to enable it to intervene in industry. Thus the Heath government was in many ways Janus~like: its original inspiration involved an attempt to make the country more efficient and looked

forward to a trim new style of government in which decisions would be taken on rational grounds but its last two years involved a retreat to the corporatism or tripartism of the earlier Wilson government and a n

emphasis on consensual decision making rather than on the quality of policy. When the Conservatives lost two elections in 1974 it was clear that the leadership of Edward Heath would be challenged. What was not so

clear was the extent to which there would be a fundamental intellectual questioning of Conservative philosophy as well as the customary review of specific policies. From revetting in their lack of doctrine and pragmatism the Conservatives became conscious of the need to engage in intellectual argument and there began to appear a new body of writing on the meaning and significance of being a Conservative. A number of factors contributed to this climate of radical debate and discussion. The first was the general mood of despair about the decline of Britain and the state of the economy. In this situation special attention was given by Conservatives to two problems which were

Briz'zl5h Conservatism: Change and Uncertainty


deemed to have had undesirable effects on the country: inflation and

the privileged position of the trade unions. Some of this attention coincided with an emerging academic debate within the fraternity of economists who had largely subscribed to Keynesian theory until the

1970s. Criticisms of Keynesianism became more widely heard and there was a quickening interest in the ideas of alternative economic theories. In particular the ideas of the Chicago school associated with Milton Friedman and of the very different Austrian school associated with Friedrich von Hayek began to gain more attention. Influential financial journalists such as Peter Jay and Samuel Brittan filtered aspects of the debate about economic theory to a wide audience and the hitherto rather obscure Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a

pressure group for free-market economics, also introduced a number of politicians to neoliberalisrn. Groups within the Conservative Party such as the Bow Group and the Selsdon Group promoted a debate about economic policy and the role of the state which made neoliberal ideas much more familiar to the party. (The Bow Group's interest in neoliberalism was especially important because it was both seen as an important intellectual force within the Conservative Party and had the reputation in social and foreign policy as being on the left of the Party.) When the Centre for Policy Studies was founded by Sir Keith Joseph in 1974 it became a focus for examining alternative policies to the interventionist ones pursued by the Heath government.

Sir Keith's own role in the evolution of the debate was a crucial one. He articulated the view that Britain suffered from a ratchet effect as far as its philosophy and politics were concerned. Labour governments advanced socialism each time they had the opportunity of office but

Conservatives never really reversed Labour initiatives. Thus by searching for the middle ground of politics, Conservatives were locked into policies which were being shifted further leftwards. Only a

determined attempt to reverse Labour policies could bring about a truly balanced and efficient economy and polity. This idea, together with a number of other revisions of the Conservative message, were set out by Sir Keith in a series of speeches in 1974 and through the Centre for Policy Studies. Unfortunately, although they stimulated intellectual interest both inside and outside the party, they revealed a certain lack of political j u d g m e n t and ensured that, while Sir Keith's influence within party circles would be significant, he would not himself be a contender for the leadership. A second factor prompting intellectual questioning of the Conservative Party's beliefs after the 1974 general election was unease at the way the constitutional system itself was operating. This had a number of aspects. The electoral system was blamed for producing an adversarial style of politics which was damaging to the stability of the


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country and to continuity in economic policy (Finer, 1975). The role of trade unions came under increasing scrutiny as critics drew attention to the extent to which powerful sectional interests had gained a stranglehold on policy and could even bring down an elected government. Labour's shift to the Left was seen as especially dangerous given that the electoral system could put the party in power on a minority of votes and allow it to pursue policies which corresponded not at all to what the majority of the population wanted. Apart from electoral reform, one remedy canvassed for this situation was comprehensive

constitutional reform including a bill of rights (Hailsham, 1978). The problem of governmental overload was identified by some authors who saw government becoming enfeebled by its tendency to take on too many responsibilities and by the loss of legitimacy which resulted from economic failure. Whether the remedies advocated were reductions in the role of government, decentralization or other forms of constitutional reform, the period was thus unusual for the extent to which it focused on the problem of governing Britain. Finally, although it would be a mistake to overestimate the direct influence of this development, there was increasing awareness of philosophical and policy developments across the Atlantic where there was an intellectual revival on the Right. At the most abstract, philosophers such as Robert Nozick provided a deface of the minimalist state (Nozick, 1974), at a more practical level the group of academics and journalists yoked together under the label 'neoconservatives' became familiar reading in Britain (Peele, 1984). The ideas of the supply-siders and monetarists began to filter across the Atlantic as

general contributions to political debate. And a variety of policy institutes and think-tanks produced pamphlets, books and memoranda on problems such as funding the welfare state which had some relevance to the United Kingdom.

The environment in which the Conservative Party found itself after February 1974 was therefore one of unusual intellectual debate and some excitement. For the parliamentary party, however, the leadership question was not a matter of ideology or policy so much as of style and

personality. Heath's aloof manner was tolerated because he had won the election of 1970, but he had never enjoyed much popularity in the party and he was defeated by Margaret Thatcher in the first round of a leadership election held after a revision of the rules (Beloff and Peele, 1985). Mrs Thatcher's bid for the leadership may have attracted some MPs who saw her as the candidate most likely to shift Conservative policy away from Heath-style corporatism, but as one biographical study points out, by playing down her obvious right-wing attitudes and

focusing on the responsiveness of the leadership, she was careful to ensure that her appeal was not limited to any single faction (Wapshott

British Conservatism: Change and Uneertainry


and Brock, 1983). And when she became leader she was careful not to commit herself too specifically on policy and she allowed a variety of tendencies within the party to compete for attention. Given the importance of the leadership within the Conservative Party and given the strong personality of Mrs Thatcher it was inevitable that her arrival in the leadership should be heralded as a major break with the immediate past. Her personal style had a number of elements: she held strong convictions and was given to expressing

them forcefully. Her beliefs were a mixture of the traditional virtues of hard work, honesty, thrift and patriotism together with neoliberal theories about how the economy worked. While she wished to see the role of the state reduced in the economic arena she was not personally

sympathetic to libertarian moral and social theory, preferring the state to retain its power where it remained at all. Though suspicious of abstract concepts such as deprivation and poverty, especially when they seemed to deflect attention from the responsibility of the individual for his own fate, she was fasci noted by the debate about the cure for inflation and other economic problems- Her down»to-earth manner gave her an appeal to an altogether different section of society from that which had been attracted to Heath. In her strong rhetoric and homely metaphors there was something of the populist but not so much as to take her outside the canons and conventions of Westrninster politics. Thus although the response to policy changes has been uneven within the Conservative ranks since 1975 and although it would certainly be a mistake to suggest a uniform commitment to a single economic doctrine, the effect of widespread policy and ideological change has been conveyed by the change of tone in the upper reaches of the party. It was, however, clear from 1975 that the central thrust of economic policy would tilt in a neoliberal direction and it is worth therefore

exploring this aspect of the Conservative ideology a little further. What neoliberalism offered the Conservatives was a coherent intellectual alternative to the Keynesian paradigm and a simple way out of the problems with the unions, with unemployment and with 'lame ducks' in industry which the Heath government had found so difficult to manage. The emphasis which it placed on freedom of choice and the market mechanism corresponded with a growing suspicion of government activity and bureaucracy in the Conservative Party. And

the rhetoric of the liberty of the individual allowed a stark contrast to be drawn with Labour's creed. The most important element of the neoliberal ideas which the Conservatives adopted in opposition was the explanation of inflation. According to such theorists as Friedman, inflation occurred because there was too much money in circulation. Money -..-. like every other


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commodity was subject to the normal laws of supply and demand and an increase in the supply (faced with a given demand) would diminish the value of the good. Hence the price level would rise. If the money supply grew in excess of the growth of the economy, inflation would occur. Inflation was one of the greatest of evils in Mrs Thatcher's scale of values: it undermined thrift and savings and hit directly those on fixed incomes. She was personally anxious to reduce inflation and the Friedmanite recipe for coping with inflation fitted her other preferences perfectly. For what Friedman suggested was that a government which wished to control inflation should devote itself to the task of ensuring that the amount of money in circulation did not exceed the growth of the real economy. The task was within the

competence of government whereas neoliberal theorists were sceptical about the ability of governments to implement the other suggested remedies for inflation such as detailed prices and incomes policies. Such policies distorted the proper adjustment of relative prices and hence distorted the microeconomics of the goods market. Given the

seeming inability of Conservative governments to sustain prices and incomes policies in the face of union recalcitrance, this message was a welcome one. Such a message thus offered a way out of the tripartism and corporation of the 1970-74 period- at least as far as the private sector was concerned. Governments would henceforth allow firms to settle their own wage levels on the basis of what their profit margins could bear knowing that firms which set their wages at an uneconomic level would soon face bankruptcy. The government could not adopt such a 'hands-off" approach to the public sector because, of course, there it

was itself the paymaster. But here two other aspects of the neoliberal monetarist creed appealed to Conservatives between 1975 and 1979. First, there was a general emphasis on the importance of competition

and on seeing that the operation of the economy was not impeded by monopolies whether of capital or labour. The withdrawal of the government from macroeconomic employment policy promised to change government relations with the unions automatically by subjecting them to the realities of market forces at least in the private sector. For the public sector a different combination of policies would have to be devisedThe experience of February 1974 as well as concern about the power of a few trade union leaders to threaten both the government and the nation's economic well-being led Mrs Thatcher and a number of Conservatives to want to subject the unions to more stringent controls. Given the problems associated with the Industrial Relations Act of

1971 and the initial electoral appeal of Labour's claim to be able to work with the unions, it was unclear what kind of approach should

British Conservatism: Change and Uncertainty


be adopted. Specifically, should the Conservatives again attempt to use the law to control trade union power? The issue generated a dispute within the Conservative Party which was to last until James Prior finally succeeded in his strategy of a series of limited measures on such topics as the closed shop and intra-union democracy rather than comprehensive legislation (Holmes, 1985). The other aspect of monetarism which appealed to many Conservatives between 1975 and 1979 was its implications for public spending. It implied a new austerity in relation to domestic expenditure, although Mrs Thatcher had to be careful to emphasize that the most popular aspects of the welfare state would not be sacrificed. One aspect of this new emphasis on th_e control of public expenditure which surfaced in political debate was the opportunity which such control would produce for reducing direct taxation. In the United States the supply-side economists were advocating the reduction of direct taxation to generate more economic activity and Mrs Thatcher was deeply aware of the unpopularity of high levels of taxation around the world. Altering the balance between the public and the private sector in Britain therefore chimed well both with the deepest instincts of many Conservatives, including the leader herself, and promised through a reduction in taxation to have popular appeal. It is, however, important to remember that in opposition it was the tone rather than the specific content of the Tory message which was the most noticeable result of the change of leadership. The character of the policies on which the Conservatives fought the election, with the exception of the policies on incomes and the industrial relations, had been worked out in 1976 and 1977 with the publication of the The Rz'ght Approach and The Right Approach to the Economy (Butler and Kavanagh, 1980). Initially, Mrs Thatcher needed party unity more than she needed the freedom to express her personal policy preferences.

The actual manifesto of 1979 was able to take into account the unpopularity of the unions caused by the so-called 'winter of

discontent' and the collapse of the Labour Party's claim to be the only party able to work with them. Detailed policy proposals were avoided and instead the manifesto posed the choice for voters in the stark terms which had become familiar in Mrs Thatcher's rhetoric: it was perhaps the last chance to restore the balance in society which had been tilted in

favour of the state at the expense of the individual (Butler and Kavanagh, 1980). The ratchet effect identified by Sir Keith Joseph had to be stemmed if not reversed. In this context it is worth noting that although the manifesto did indeed promise a strict control of the money supply, control of the public sector borrowing requirement (PSBR) and a reduction in the state's share of the national income, the extent of the denationalization


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promised was in fact quite modest. Certainly the Conservatives promised to reverse Labour's nationalization of the aerospace, shipbuilding and freight industries and to curb the new vehicle of public ownership, the National Enterprise Board. But there was no hint of the radical privatization to come under the Thatcher governments. In many ways the most radical proposal in the manifesto was the pledge to sell off council houses. In retrospect the character of the 1976 and 1977 policy documents,

as well as of the 1979 manifesto itself, is relatively easy to explain. Mrs Thatcher had no need to produce intra-party divisions. The Conservative Research Department under Christopher Patten was still exerting a moderating influence. Above all, it was sensible to let the

Callaghan government lose the election without providing ammunition for the Labour Party to hurl at the Tories. Nevertheless, at least one seasoned observer recognized something qualitatively different in the mood of the Conservative Party after it won the general election of 1979: The Conservative victory in May 1979 was more than just another change of government, in terms of political and economic philosophy it was a revolution. The first victim of this coup was the commitment to full employment. (Pliatzky, 1982)

Pliatzky was writing early in the life of the Thatcher government and it

has been suggested that such a black-and-white picture may be inaccurate. Nevertheless the remark is interesting not merely because of the impact which the Conservative government clearly had on a senior civil servant but also because of the extent to which it underlines the awareness of a new commitment on the part of the Tories to make a. difference to the British system ofgovernrnent. What Pliatzky intuited was the extent to which the Conservative Party under Mrs Thatcher's

leadership was determined to try to change the balance between the public and the private sectors, to roll back the state and to create a new entrepreneurial climate in Britain. And he recognized that this Prime Minister, while she might not succeed in all her aims, would be less likely to be deflected by the customary impediments to the implementation of new policy ideas the pressure group networks and the .-..-.-

civil service which discourages radical deviations from existing policy.

The Conservatives in government have sustained much of their radical approach to policy and indeed the party made much omits 1987 election campaign turn on the promise of a further term of radical

reform. However, although there has been a substantial break with previous policy assumptions in a number of areas, the direction of

economic policy has not been as straight as its apologists would like to think and the force of public opinion has kept public expenditure high.

British Con5ervanlsm.° Change and Uncertainty


Thus while the Conservative radicals in 1979 dreamed of cutting public expenditure, by 1987 the best that could be claimed in this regard was that public spending was expected to fall as a proportion of the nation's income over the next three years: . . . by 1989-1990, the proportion is expected to be back to the levels of the early seveNties. In real terms, public spending is expected to increase by an average of 1 per cent a year, significantly less than the growth of the nation's income. (The Government's Expenditure Plans 1987-8 to 1989-90, Vol. II)


The first budget of the newly elected Thatcher government which reduced direct taxation from 33 per cent to 30 per cent, sent an important signal of the Conservatives' commitment to shifting the balance away from the public sector and towards creating a new climate. However, it was not until the 1980 budget that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Geoffrey Howe, announced the vehicle through which the money supply was to be controlled, the so-called Medium Term Financial Strategy. What was effectively pursued throughout the first term of Mrs Thatcher's administration was a deflationary strategy which appeared to have the required effects of bringing inflation down and stemming the growth of public expenditure. Unfortunately it also coincided with a rise in unemployment which caused many critics inside and outside of the party to question the wisdom of adhering to this set of policies. Sir Geoffrey Howe's handling of the economy may have been exemplary for its attempt to translate the ideas adopted in opposition into policy. lt did not however contribute much to the general appreciation of Conservative economic values or the broader ideals of the capitalist system. Nigel Lawson, Sir Geoffrey's successor, attempted to remedy this by a series of initiatives which were integrated into a much more robust view of the role of the economy in

the national life. Lawson set out to sell a form of popular capitalism. Apart from successive cuts in direct taxation which brought the rate down to 25 per cent by 1988, Lawson tried to encourage the idea of wider share-ownership by creating tax concessions for profit-sharing schemes and by .SOITIC technical changes to encourage the small investor. Thus, for instance, the rate of duty payable on share transfers was reduced, a change which reinforced the fall in transaction costs which new technology had occasioned. However, the most dramatic aspect of the Conservative strategy to make capitalism more popular in the country at large was the policy of 'privatization'. The extent to which the various policies grouped under this umbrella term offers a clue to the character of contemporary

Conservatism in Britain is debatable, but one recent author has gone far as to say that 'privatization has transformed a government in



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office into a radical government with a political ideology' (Veljanovski, 1987). Initially, the Conservatives were committed only to reversing the most recent Labour nationalizations, not to attempting such a comprehensive process of rolling back of the state, although they did want to experiment with mixes of private and public sector provision in such areas as the National Health Service. However, a combination of factors pushed the privatization programme along further and faster than could have been predicted in 1979. Sir Keith Joseph's experience at the Department of Trade and Industry early in the first term of the Thatcher administration underlined the difficulty of devising consistent policies within the public sector for enterprises such as British Leyland

and British Steel. The interest in the early sales of shares convinced ministers that a policy of privatization might be electorally popular, and it was widely recognized that there was little support for the traditional nationalized industries. By 1983, therefore, after the government divested itself of interests in twenty~five companies, the ground was prepared for the more radical idea of selling off two major public utilities - gas and telecommunications. The sales of British Telecom and British Gas were unusual. The shares were put on the open market and some were reserved for the small purchaser, especially those who used the relevant utilities(Survey evidence has suggested that about one million people, half of the total of those people who sought shares in British Telecom, had never owned shares before.) The sales were attended by major publicity campaigns and as a result the share issues in both British Telecom and British Gas were oversubscribed. Taken together the sale of shares is calculated to have raised assets worth £6,957,000,000 between 1981-2 and 1985-6. Following the sale of British Gas, according to the government, the state sector of industry accounted for 8 per cent of GDP, whereas in 1979 it had accounted for 11.5 per cent

(The Government's Expenditure Plans 1987-8 to 1989-90, Vol. II). Privatization brought together a number of features of the new blend of Conservatism 'fashioned under Mrs Thatcher's leadership. First it reduced the size of the public sector. Secondly it generated additional income for the government which it could use to finance tax cuts or a mix of tax cuts and additional public expenditure. By spreading share-ownership to a wider section of society than hitherto it was hoped to give more people an understanding about how the capitalist system operated and, of course, to give individuals a stake in resisting the return of a Labour government. Thirdly, it introduced the market into areas where it had hitherto not played a conspicuous part in the belief that this would generate greater economic efficiency and better value for money both for the citizen as taxpayer and the

British Conservatism: Change and Uncertainty


taxpayer as consumer. The extent to which this hope will be realized remains to be seen since, as has been frequently pointed out, the transfer of a monopoly utility to the private sector does not thereby

reduce the utility's monopoly power. Thus there was a mix of pragmatic and ideological motives involved in the privatization process and it gathered a momentum of its own over the period 1979-87. Privatization of industry in public ownership was complemented by another policy which some would suggest promised to have an even more dramatic effect on the structure of British politics. It had long been a part of Conservative ideology to extend home-ownership as widely as possible but until 1979 the Conservatives had never thought that the sale of council houses could command support. However in 1980 a new Housing Act gave sitting tenants the right to buy their homes at a lower than market rate. This legislation was reinforced by

further measures aimed at altering the pattern of housing tenure in Britain. As a result a million people purchased homes from local authorities between 1979 and 1987- a development which contributed greatly to the rise of home-ownership in Britain from 57 per cent in 1979 to 64 per cent by June 1986.


and the elimination of council tenancies affects

the position of the Conservative Party in a number of ways. Most obviously it is a popular policy which will win votes, a fact that has not been lost on Labour which did not commit itself to reversing the policy

in 1987. More speculatively the policy of selling council houses and encouraging ownership may be seen as reinforcing the value of selfreliance and giving individuals a stake in society. By breaking up large council estates, it could break up homogenous centres of working-class values and associated Labour voting. Occupational mobility ought to be easier than before, since individuals are not prevented from taking a job in a different area by the difficulty of arranging a council house transfer. It should provide a new pool of people with capital which may

have a significant effect on voting behaviour in the next generation. And of course in the short term it has provided the public sector with additional assets from the sales, worth £8 billion by 1987-8 as well as reducing the burden of maintenance and upkeep (Veljanovski, 1987). Housing policy was one area where the Conservatives` new radicalism was overwhelmingly popular, to the point where one commentator noted that something like a new consensus had been created as a result of the issue of council house sales having ceased to be

contentious (Bosanquet, 1986). However the attempts to limit public expenditure on other aspects of welfare provision received a mixed reception. Ironically, the government's record over the period 1979 to 1987 was by no means successful in actually cutting expenditure:


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indeed in many areas of domestic spending it actually rose in real terms. However, such had been the government's insistence on expenditure constraint that most observers believed cuts had been

made. In seeking to curb public expenditure the Conservatives believed initially that it ought to be possible to concentrate services where they were most needed and to encourage a switch from public to private provision. Unfortunately neither of these principles took the government very far. Social security is a case in point. This area of spending

was bound to attract government concern for the fact that social security accounts for nearly 30 per cent of public expenditure means that 'any government desirous of curtailing the latter must devote considerable attention to the former' (Collins, 1985). Yet social security is difficult to control. Apart from the political sensitivity of such items as pensions, the fact that it is susceptible to changes in employment opportunities and demography causes major problems. The high levels of unemployment which the government experienced

throughout its years of office meant correspondingly high levels of payment for unemployment benefit. The shock was especially severe in the first three years of the government's life but by 1986 there had been a rise in expenditure of 33 per cent (Kavanagh, 1987). The possibility of reforming the whole basis of social security had

surfaced from time to time. In 1982 the Central Policy Review Staff (CPRS) presented a range of options for the future organization and funding of welfare including some very radical proposals for cuts. The political implications were such that it was withdrawn from the cabinet agenda and then the CPRS was itself abolished after the 1983 general election. In fact even where the Conservatives would have liked to make fundamental changes, for example in relation to State EarningsRelated Pensions (SERPS), they have had to be content with scaling down the level of provision rather than radical reform or abolition. There it was not just the fear of political unpopularity that prevented the government from making fundamental changes, but the fact that a

wide range of interest groups had been involved in the original schemes and that to try to unravel the policy was just too complex. Radical reform proved equally elusive in two other major areas of domestic policy, the health service and education. The National Health Service has proved an especially difficult object of reform. The principles of the system, free treatment for all who needed it and funding out of general taxation, were adopted in a period before the discovery of many of the more expensive techniques of modern medicine. Today it is abundantly clear that the system needs

additional resources but it is unclear how those resources should be injected into the NHS without occasioning vast political controversy.

British Conservatzl5m: Change and Uncertainty


Certainly the 1979 Conservative manifesto avoided specific references to the NHS just as in the 1983 and 1987 elections Mrs Thatcher was careful to emphasize the party's commitment to maintaining the essentials of the NHS. Where the Conservatives would like to make further changes is in relation to the role which the private sector can play in complementing the NHS. Whereas Labour has tended to see private medicine as a threat to the NHS, the Conservatives

have emphasized both the

individual's freedom to opt for private medical attention and the benefits which the private sector can bring to the state system. Thus the Conservatives in 1979 promised to reverse Labour's policy of phasing

pay beds out of NHS hospitals. This was done and there have been experiments with contracting out to the private sector such ancillary services as laundry. However thus far the funding of the NHS, despite attacks from such bodies as the IEA, has not been altered and the government has found itself in the uncomfortable position of devoting more resources to the NHS while being subject to criticism for financial deficiencies in the system which cause problems such as lengthy hospital waiting lists. In 1988 it undertook a major review of the NHS which seemed likely to ohan aspects of the system substantially.

On education the government found itself in a rather different position owing to the need to cope with a declining school population. It was also an area which had already attracted a good deal of attention on the right of the party which thought that parental choice ought to be increased, preferably through a voucher system. The Conservatives did try to extend free choice in their 1980 Education Act, primarily by forcing schools to publish information about themselves and by giving parents a statutory right Lo choose their cllildrcnls school. However,

this did not satisfy many elements in the party and by 1987 there was a demand for more radical action to improve the standards of state schools and the degree of parental choice. The manifesto of 1987 promised that a major education bill in the next session would introduce a national curriculum along with other changes such as the freedom for some schools to opt out of local authority control. The proposed reforms in the educational system seemed to be inspired by no single philosophical impulse. Rather they were predicated upon the assumption that improvements in education could be brought about by central government in conjunction with the individual schools and the parents. The novelty of the approach was the extent to which it involved by-passing the local authorities and hence altering a longestablished relationship between the different tiers of administrationThree themes seem to have distinguished the Conservative approach to domestic policy after 1979. First, there was a heavy emphasis on


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freedom of choice. In the National Health Service this was achieved by reinstating pay beds in NHS hospitals while in education it was achieved by trying to encourage freedom for the consumer within the state system as well as a few opportunities to move between the state and private sectors. If this was not the kind of market-oriented approach that the enthusiasts of bodies such as the IEA and the Adam Smith Institute wanted, it represented a determined attempt to make the system as responsive as possible to the consumer within the broad framework of the existing organizational structures, though many thought the tax system could have been used to encourage greater freedom of choice between the private and public sectors. A second theme was the determination to impose the discipline of value for

money on the provision of services. This attitude produced inter alia a reorganization of the NHS and a revamping of the University Grants Committee into a University Funding Council. Finally, there was a concerted attempt to get private enterprise to work with the public sector on grounds of efficiency and the need to generate additional resources, for example in the inner cities. Although the overall amount of money going to the welfare services increased, the spirit in which it was given seemed to change, creating a climate to uncertainty and resentment in such areas as the NHS and the universities. And this to some extent allowed Labour in the 1987 election to charge the Conservatives with having a hidden agenda of further ideologically inspired attacks on the welfare state, an agenda which they might really

implement if re-elected. It would be a mistake to suggest that the government's approach found favour in all sections of the party or was not criticized on the backbenches. It will be remembered that Mrs Thatcher was herself the product of a backbench rebellion and she was careful therefore to keep in constant touch with her supporters- For the most part she was

successful, although the willingness to dissent from the official line remained a feature of parliamentary behaviour during Mrs Thatcher's premiership. Thus the government was forced to retreat on such matters as Sunday trading and MPs' pay. For the most part, though, as Norton (1987) has commented, backbenchers are agnostic on economic policy. The number who could be categorized as true believers, whether as wets or dries, was small during both the l 9T(]s and the 1980s- The language of political debate had changed, its centre point had shifted so that there was probably a bias towards market solutions and away from public-sector activity, but within that shift of emphasis most Conservative MPs remained pragmatists. Substantial and vocal opposition to the trend of Conservative policy did emerge within the ranks of the parliamentary party during Mrs Thatcher's premiership but this tended to come most obviously from

British Conservarfsm: Change and Uncertainty


senior figures in the party. Edward Heath continued to articulate a far more pragmatic view of politics than Mrs Thatcher but he was an isolated figure. More significant were those whom Mrs Thatcher had sacked and who made their disagreement with the tenor of Conservative policy plain, often arguing that the blend of policies was not the

authentic Conservatism they had long supported. Sir Ian Gilmour, James Prior, Francis Pym and Michael Heseltine all published books outlining their personal visions of true Conservatism and indicating where the Thatcher governments had deviated from it." Although Michael Heseltine's apologia is a little different from the others in tone and in the solutions which he proposes to problems, the other authors are at one in proposing a more vigorous role for the state in the search

for policies. (Heseltine also differed from the other critics of government policy in that he remained a potential candidate for the leadership and indeed in 1987, shortly after the general election, made clear his determination to spearhead the opposition to the proposal to replace domestic rates by a poll-tax.) Above all, they were agreed in rejecting the adherence to a given economic strategy at whatever price in terms of high levels of unemployment and recession in manufacturing industry. James Prior was the Only representative of the wetter strand of conservatism given a key economic ministry at the beginning of the

first Thatcher government when, as Secretary of State for Employment, he persuaded the cabinet to adopt a step-by~step or 'softly softly' approach to trade union reform. In the reshuffle of 1981 he was sent to Northern Ireland but remained a member of the cabinet's 'E' committee on his own insistence. His autobiography includes some scathing attacks on dogmatic monetarism and on Mrs Thatcher's economic beliefs (Prior, 1986). Unemployment did of course have certain indirect benefits


example in relation to the degree of militancy which might be expected from trade unions. But to many senior Conservatives who remembered

the inter-war years and the effect which the Depression had on the Conservative Party's image, high levels of unemployment were ethically unacceptable and politically dangerous. Francis Pym, who was sacked immediately after the 1983 election, argued forcefully for a strategy to reduce unemployment. Much of his argument was based on the inherent importance of reducing unemployment but it also reflected the strong view that unless the Conservatives tackled this problem they would be deprived of power and hence of the chance to extend their other policies. The argument about electoral appeal is of course a crucial one to any political party but it is taken especially seriously in a party which has

traditionally placed great emphasis on responding to what the voters want, rather than being tied to any dogma or sectional interest. The


The Transformation

of Contemporary


changes which the British electorate manifested in the period from 1964, which may be summarized in the idea of electoral 'dealignment', made it more important than ever for the Conservative Party to devise a strategy to complement changing electoral circumstances.

The Changing Electoral Environment The changes which have occurred in the British electoral environment since the mid-1960s have been varied. At the level of voting behaviour there has been a high degree of volatility which has undermined many of the orthodox assumptions about popular attitudes and political choice. There is a lively debate in the political science community about the extent to which the dealignrnent of the electorate can be explained in terms of changes in the British class structure, or indeed by any model of voting behaviour. For some analysts, class - refined perhaps through a different schema from that favoured by earlier

writers or elaborated to include secondary characteristics such as housing status - remains an important source of voting behaviour. For others, the traditional relationship between class and voting behaviour in Britain has so broken down that voting must now be explained largely in terms of individual preferences. The vote decision is thus seen as more open and less determined by such factors as parental class than it was in the period 1945-64. Yet to assert that class has ceased to structure voting choice to the extent that it once did does not mean that class is irrelevant to electoral choice. Nor does it mean that voters necessarily behave rationally in the sense of making a conscious and informed decision about which way to vote. Just as the consumer of soap powder


any other commercial product is subject

to a range of different influences, so the modern voter is subject to a variety of competing pressures and may be attracted or repelled by different features of a political party. What is important is that as voting behavior becomes less automatic, the role of those who sell parties, that is, those who devise

the publicity campaigns, becomes more important as does the capacity of a party to devise policies which will appeal to significant groups of the electorate. At the level of the party system, there has been tangible change

which reflects the electoral dynamics. Two changes in particular stand out as crucial. First, the Labour Party has experienced a major decline over the period 1966 to 1987 whether measured in terms of votes or seats. Secondly the party system has become more fragmented so that


instead of a Labour-Conservative duopoly, the two major parties

must compete with a range of alternatives and the 'two party system can no longer be considered closed to outside penetration' (Franklin,

British Conservatism: Change and Uncertainty


1985). Although the Alliance fell back on its 1983 performance at the 1987 general election, its support in every age group except the 18~»24 year-old cohort was still an increase on that of the Liberals in 1974 (Worcester, 1987). And the existence of the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru further complicated the competitive situation outside England. (Northern Ireland has a separate system of party competition.) The general election campaign of 1987, although it ended in a clear Conservative victory, saw a good deal of debate about the correct strategy for coping with a situation in which at both national and constituency level the contest was complicated by the presence of a serious third party challenge. Finally there has been change at the level of issues. The very

significance of issues in voting behavior is itself the other side of the coin of the decline of class voting. Thus, for one authority (Franklin, 1985) it was a measure of the change that had come over British politics that 'whereas Butler and Stokes were able to write about the 1964 election largely from the perspective of class, Crewe and Sarlvik were able to write about the 1979 election mainly from the perspective of issues." Mrs Thatcher has deliberately fashioned policies to appeal to what she has identified as key segments of the electorate and has been quick to take advantage of Labour vulnerability, on the defence issue in particular. Academic debate will doubtless continue to surround the nature ot" political change in contemporary Britain. Here it is only necessary to provide a brief discussion of the 1987 election results and what they suggest about the nature of the sources of support for the Conservative

Party in modern Britain. The Conservatives in 1987 won 375 seats as compared with Labour's 229 and the Alliance's joint total of 22 seats. Although the total

number of seats won by the Conservatives was marginally down on their 1983 performance (when they won 397 seats to Labour's 209 and the Alliance's 23), their percentage of the vote held fairly stable at 43 per cent, Labour's proportion of the vote rose from 28 per cent to 32 per cent but the distribution of the vote and the fact that it was so far behind made little difference to the result. The most noticeable feature of the 1987 results were the regional variations. The Conservatives lost further ground in Scotland where there was a 7.5 per cent swing against them. The Conservatives also

dropped back in Wales where there was a 5 per cent swing to Labour (Worcester, 198'/).6 But within England the party division between the north and the south signaled to many a hardening of the two-nations hypothesis, that there was an affluent Tory-voting England south of the Trent and an impoverished Labour-voting England north of it. Labour lost three seats in London as well as Thurrock and Ipswich. Its


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

gains in Oxford East and in Norwich South were the only gains in the south (Butler, 1987). By contrast the Conservatives did poorly in the cities (apart from London) so that no Conservative MPs were returned at all in Manchester, Leicester, Bradford and Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Wood, 1987),

Other features of the results were less obvious. Labour's recovery was greatest among the youngest segment of voters (18-24 year-olds) which is not perhaps surprising given the explicit attempt of the Labour campaign to appeal to youth and the extent to which Conservative policies on taxation and housing, for example, would be more likely to impress older age-groups. Women registered greater support for Labour than did men. The

source of this differential is unclear. It may be that female voters were attracted by Labour's explicit proposals to improve the status of women, including the idea of a Ministry for Women. On the other hand it may be that women were more hostile than men to the harsh image of Thatcherite Conservatism or even that they were more volatile than men in their electoral preferences. Whatever the explanation, the evidence of 1987 reinforces doubts about the homogeneity of male and female voting behaviour in Britain, especially if underlying attitudes and not just the simple vote-decision are examined (Francis and Peele, 1978).

The Conservatives did well among owner-occupiers where they enjoyed a substantial lead over Labour and among working-class home-owners they enjoyed a 12-point lead over Labour, while Labour enjoyed a 38-point lead over the Conservatives among council house tenants (Worcester, 1987). Equally, the Conservatives benefited both from the fall in the number of trade unionists from 30 per cent to 23 per cent of the electorate over the period 1979-87 and from the inability of Labour to win back trade union members. Thus from a situation where 'when Harold Wilson led the Labour Party, more than half of trade union members supported the party of the trade unions, now only 42 per cent do, up a mere 3 per cent since the Labour Party's 1983 debacle." (Worcester, 1987). The 1987 general election underlined the extent to which Labour had been forced back to a core of support in the north of England, Scotland and Wales and how successful the Conservatives had been in gaining support amongst the affluent working classes. Whether Labour's unattractiveness over the period 1979-87 or the appeal of specific Conservative policies in these years should be given the credit

for the new electoral balance is a debatable point. What is clear is that taken together they have provided the Conservatives with decisive


British Conservatism: Change and Uncertainty



The period of Mrs Thatcher's leadership of the British Conservative Party has seen a number of important changes both in the general character of party politics and in the emphasis of Conservative policy. It has become more robust and more distinctive, although it still retains its essentially pragmatic character. Mrs Thatcher and the Conservative Party organization have been well-placed to take advantage of underlying changes in the electoral environment, changes

which may be expected to increase rather than diminish in importance. Yet the success of the Conservative Party over the last three elections does not guarantee success in future. The changes which worked to help to produce a new electoral equation also mean that no party can view its electoral base as solid. The voters must be persuaded by attractive policies and leaders and the new electoral technology must be mastered. Even though Labour has had to operate under a substantial handicap because ofits internal developments, the Kinnock campaign showed that some of this disadvantage could be overcome. British conservatism has proved able to win in an environment where its opponents were weak. It will have to learn to live in an environment where nothing can be taken for granted. Notes l . The most useful recent discussions of the significance ofMrs Thatcher's leadership and the extent to which it has transformed the Conservative Party are Dennis Kavanagh (1987) Thatcherism and British Politics: The End of Consensus?, Oxford: Oxford University Press, and K. Minogue and Michael Biddiss (eds) (1987) Thatcherism: Persorialiry and Politics, Basingstoke: Macmillan. 2. See, for example, the discussion in Michael Oakeshott's various essays especially those collected (1962) in Rationalism in Polities, London: Methuen. On the character of

the conservative disposition see Roger Scruton (1980) The Meaning

of Conservatism,

Basingstoke: Macmillan.

3. On the making of the consensus see especially Paul Addison (1975) The Road to 1945, London: Cape, and K. Morgan (1984)Labourin Power 1945-1951, Oxford: Oxford University Press; and K. Middlemas (1986) Power, Competition and the State: Britain in Search of 8alance 1940-61. Basingstoke: Macmillan. 4. In order of publication they were Sir Ian Gilmour (1983)Brfta¢'r1 Can Work, Oxford: Martin Robertson, Francis Pym (1984) The Politics of Consent, London: Sphere Books, James Prior (1986) A Balance of Power, London: Hamish Hamilton; and Michael Heseltine (1987) Where There's A Will, London: Hutchinson.

5. The key points in the debate about voting behaviour can be gleaned from D.E. o_fDealignmenr:

Butler and Donald Stokes (1974) Political Change in Britain, Basingstoke: Macmillan, The Conservative Victory of1979 Ivor Crewe and B. Sarlvik (1983) Decade and Efecioral Trends in the 1970s, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Anthony Heath, Roger Jowcll and John Curtice (1985) How Britain Votes, Oxford: Pergamon

Press, and P. Dunleavy and C.T. Husbands (1985) British Democracy or the Crossroads: Voting and Party Competition in the 19805, London: George Allen and Uriwin.

34 The Transformation

of Contemporary


6. Other authors have calculated the swing slightly differently. Thus David Butler has calculated the swing in Scotland as 5.8 per cent and in Wales at 4.4 per cent. (See The Times, 13 .Tune 1987.)

References Beloff, Max and Gillian Peele (1985) The Government

of the United Kingdom: Political

Authority in a Changing Society, 2nd ed. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Bosanquet, N. (1986) 'Interim Report: Housing' pp, 141-3 in R. Jewell, S. Witherspoon and Lindsay Brook (eds) British Socio Attitudes.' the /986 Report. Aldershot: Gower. Butler, D.E. and Dennis Kavanagh (1980) The British General Election of I979. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Butler, D.E. (1987) 'Who Were the Floating Voters . . .'?', The Times, 13 June. Collins, Doreen (1985) 'Social Security Polio)/', pp.6?-82 in David S. Bell, [ed.) The Conservative Government 1979-84: An Interim Report. London: Croom Helm. Finer, S.E. (ed.) (1975) Adversary Politics and Electoral Reform. London:Wigram. Francis, J.G. and Gillian Peele ( l9'i8) 'Reflections on Generational Analysis: Is There a Shared Political Perspective Between Men and Women?', Political Studies, XXVI(3): 363-74. Franklin, M. (1985) The Decline of Class Voting in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gilmour, I. (1983) Britain Can Work. Oxford: Martin Robertson. Hailsham, Lord (1978) Dilemma of Democracy. London: Collins. Heseltine, M. (1937) Where There's A Wilt. London: Hutchinson. Holmes, M. (1982) Political Pressure and Economic Policy; British Government 1970/974. London: Butterworth.

Holmes, M. (1985) TheFirst Thatcher Government 1979-83: Contemporary Conservatism and Economic Change. Brighton: Wheatsheaf. Kavanagh, Dennis (1937) TNatcizeristn and British Politics: The End



Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Middlemas, K. (1979) Politics in Industrial Society. London: André Deutsch. Middlemas, K. (1986) Power, Competition and the State: Britain in Search 1940-61. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

of Baiance

Norton, P. (1987) 'Mrs Thatcher and the Conservative Party: Another Institution I-Iandbagged'?', pp. 21-37 in K. Minogue and M. Biddiss (eds), TNatchertsm: Personality and Politics. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Nozick, Robert (1974) Anarchy, State and Utopia. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Peele, Gillian (1984) Revival abReaction: The Right in Contemporary America. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pliatzky, Leo (1982) Getting and Spending: Public Expenditure, Brnpioyment and

inflation. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Prior, James (1986) A Balance ofPower. London: Hamish Hamilton. Pym, Francis (1984) The Politics

of Consent. London: Sphere Books.

Veljanovski, C. (198T) Setting the State. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Wapshott, N. and G. Brock (1983) Thatcher. London: Fontana. Wood, N, (1987) 'Priority to Banish Left from Cities', The Times, 13 June. Worcester, Robert (1987) 'Swings and Falls that Spawned a Landslide', The Times, 13 June.

3 Change and Continuity in French Conservatism since 1944 Voikmar Lauber

The history of conservatism in France since the Second World War is one of enduring, though temporarily submerged, diversity and of exceptional transformations right up to the mid-1980s. This process may be summed up as follows: after the war, the traditional forces of the Right, its ideas and supporters were profoundly discredited. Some of those forces recovered but did not play a leading role for some thirty years, with only a brief interlude. By contrast, a pole of political dynamism developed around de Gaulle which in 1958-62 came to dominate the Right, leaving a deep impact on French politics. At the end of the General's tenure in office though, dynamic Gaullism lost its hegemonic position among French conservatives. The other traditions of the Right re-emerged gradually, partly with new ideas. After years of internal conflict which was sharpened by the recession in the wake of the second oil crisis, the Right lost its hold on the national government. When it returned to power in 1986 (at least at the level of parliarnent and the prime minister), this was due more to discontent with the Left to positive identification with its programme. Many of the . ..

. . .


. .




. . . .

internal conflicts which were temporarily submerged during the opposition years reappeared again, complicated by the appearance of the far right National Front. During this period three main strands of conservative politics can be identified. The most important one derives from General de Gaulle. It has an affinity to the Bonapartist tradition of the French Right, going back to the two Napoleons, their nationalism and their approach to political authority: strong executive, weak parliament, direct appeal to the people (for example, via referendums), strong state intervention and an effort to integrate the working class. The second main strand is a conservatism linked to the deface of property and business interests, it fits well into the Orleanist tradition, which owes its name to the 'bourgeois-king' Louis-Philippe d'Orléans (1830-48) and is equated with a certain form of liberalism which represented the interests of the new middle class of the first half of the nineteenth century:


The Transformation

of Contemporary


Table 3.1 Voting strength of right-wing formations (percentage of votes cast in parliamentary elections) Date

Far Right


Independent Republicans


Oct. 1945


Nov. 1946









1951 Ian.


11.6 (Poujade)





Nov. 1962





March 1967














March 1978







June 1968



1981 March



9.8 (Le Pen)

* From Williams (1970), see source


8 With former MRP.

b With former MRP, Centre and Radicaux. Sources: Williams (197/1292-3) for 1945-56 plus the results for 1958 and 1962; Ysmal (1986:l5) for other results, 1951-81 Le Gall (l986:6).

parliamentarism, the system of 'notables', aversion against a strong centralized state and against direct popular participation in politics. The third strand, less important but re~emerging in French politics extreme Right, WKed with with some regularity, is that o demagogy and a particularly aggressive authoritarian me It has




some links with the 'ultras' or 'legimitist' tradition (rejection of the

French Revolution in favour of a populist Bourbon monarchy) but without its aristocratic element (Rérnond, 1968).

Change and Con tinufry in French Conservatllsm


From the Liberation to the Fifth Republic (1944-58)

At the Liberation French conservatism (and French business) were

very seriously discredited. The most immediate reason for this was their record of collaboration with Nazi Germany, but the phenomenon went deeper. For decades the conservatives had practised a politics of stagnation in order not to upset a delicately balanced social order that secured bourgeois hegemony (Hoffmann, 1963) but this also meant accepting a subordinate international status. In this vein, many conservatives in the 1930s preferred Hitler to Lion Blum, the leader of the Popular Front government of 1936. While they were resigned to seeing France relegated to a second rank power, the Resistance and Liberation movements brought new leaders to the fore who were eager to rejuvenate the French nation and make it self-confident again by a process of large-scale economic, demographic, social and political renewal. De Gaulle was a central figure in this process as well as a symbol for it. In the 1944 parliamentary elections the forces of renewal won by a large margin. The Right was nearly wiped out: conservatives and centrists (the Radicaux) together obtained less than one quarter of the vote. The three parties that set out jointly to rebuild France under the leadership of General de Gaulle were the Communist and Socialist parties plus the Mouvement Republicain Populaire (MRP) which at that time was a progressive and leftist Catholic party, at least in terms of its leaders if not always in terms of its electorate. At that time, the Right was hopelessly divided. Only over the years did it manage to organize itself into political formations centred around two poles: General de Gaulle and the Centre National des Indépendants (CNI) (Anderson, 1974: 77-9).

The reformist impetus of the governmental parties was lost rather quickly as the old routines (and later on the Cold War) set in. Out of frustration de Gaulle, a conservative nationalist, the very opposite of those men of the Right who had presided over France's decay and

downfall, stepped down and soon afterwards announced the founding of his own political movement. He did not want to found a party but a reassemblement, a movement that Frenchmen from all walks of life could join and that would not represent a coalition of special interests or an ideological family but the whole nation. The parties, in de Gaulle's view, could only divide the nation and weaken it by their sterile parliamentary games. However, the founding of the Rassemblement du Pcuple Francais (RPF or 'rally of the French people') was poorly timed (that is, in 1947, just after elections had been held). Still, it

became the second strongest party in 1951, drawing voters especially from the MRP and nearly all other parties except from the 'moderate



The Transformation

of Contemporary


conservatives' of the Centre National Indépendant et Paysan (CNIP], the former CNI. The RPF's strength came from the industrial north and north-east and the urban middle classes, it was weaker in rural

areas, the traditional bastions of French conservatism. Most of the Gaullist deputies elected in 1951 cared little about protecting the privileges of property owners and were regarded 'with suspicion by businessmen afraid of the sacrifices these Gaullists might impose in the name of national grandeur. In addition, there was considerable tension with the conservative deputies in parliament, some of whom were clearly marked by their involvement with the Vichy regime. The RPF was above all an anti-system party and had little influence over actual policy. Throughout the Fourth Republic the party failed to

achieve de Gaulle's objectives of reforming the country's political institutions by strengthening the executive and weakening parliainent. Because of their refusal to play the parliame rotary game, the RPF deputies remained largely isolated and were eventually split by Antoine Pinay, a conservative leader from the CNIP. The Gaullist electorate also shrank rapidly: from four million votes in 1951 to one million in 1956. The Fourth Republic was a difficult time for the loyal supporters of de Gaulle -- only a few withstood the test of the famous traverse du desert (crossing of the desert) which forced people to choose between loyalty and personal ambition. While the RPF failed to achieve its goals, the conservatives of the CNIP could secure a brief comeback under Antoine Piney who in 1952 accepted the premiership and obtained the support of one quarter of the Gaullist deputies (their most conservative faction). Pinay built the first majority of the Right after the war, signaling an important recovery of moderate Vichyite forces though his coalition also included the Radicaux (centrists) and an MRP uneasy about such company. Pinay by his policy showed the preferences of that Right,

housing and industrial investment programmes were cut back, tax

evaders amnestied and their capital attracted by a highly attractive state loan. Under very favorable international conditions inflation was brought down, though at the cost of declining industrial

production and an under-employed national economy. It was a onesided policy with favours for property owners and sacrifices for the weak. There were few gains for the nation as a whole, the very opposite of de Gaulle's approach to unite the nation around a policy of economic dynamism combined with broad welfare improvements (Williams, 1970: 19-26). One of Pinay's young protégés, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, became better known later on.


There was a third element of the Right that played a certain role in

the last years of the Fourth Republic, an element that has resurfaced repeatedly since then: the Protest movement of Pierre Pomade, coming

Change and Continuity in French Conservatzlym


mostly from the relatively backward south and south-west and supported chiefly by small businessmen (artisans, shopkeepers, small entrepreneurs) and winegrowers. It excelled by its violent campaign

style and vindictive rhetoric and demagogy against the (parliamentary) 'system' and its elected representatives. Poujadism achieved only a brief success in the mid-1950s but the tradition re-emerged later on, and at least one former Poujadist deputy came to play an important role nearly three decades later, namely Jean-Marie Le Pen. The different elements of the Right the most important ones being the CNIP and the Gaullists - were divided under the Fourth Republic by several factors: the memory of Vichy and the Resistance, the question of political institutions (strong executive leadership versus

liberal parliamentarism); and economic and social policy (dynamism and expansion contrasting with protection of hierarchy and property). Neither of the two main groups could secure a hegemonic position within the Right. Only with de Gaulle's accession to power in 1958 was a clear and for some time stable situation established: the dynamic elements of Gaullism now came to dominate the scene, with the other conservative movements relegated to an auxiliary role.

De Gaulle in Power: 1958-69 As a high-level military officer de Gaulle had watched the decline and impotence of Third Republic France in the face of rising Nazi Germany. In his view, the bourgeois-capitalist and parliamentary system of the Third Republic could not generate a national will strong and united enough to provide the French nation with the necessary

leadership. His critique of parliamentary democracy joined that of other conservative (and even Fascist) critics. But his answer was different: he proposed a political system in which the political will of the people would be concentrated rather than divided, yet would still be expressed democratically. This required an economy which would no longer exploit and antagonize important parts of the population, and an institutional system which would tend to produce strong and stable government rather than cabinets at the mercy of intrigues and opportunistic career calculations. A unified nation could in turn permit France to recover from the decline it had experienced. Between 1940 and 1944 de Gaulle became first the historic leader of the Resistance movement, then the first president of France after the Liberation. He resigned when he reached the conclusion that his proposals for political reconstruction would not be heeded- About twelve years later the last Fourth Republic government was unable to

solve the Algerian crisis which threatened to degenerate into civil warfare or a military coup. De Gaulle stood out as the only man


The Transformation

of Contemporary


capable of handling the situation, due in part to the loyalty he could expect from the military. He used his acquired position of power to draft a new constitution, one which reflected his belief that a balance was required between the executive and parliament. The new constitution was accepted in a referendum by a majority of79 per cent of the voters. De Gaulle When dissolved parliament, in the November elections of the same year, the vote for the Gaullist Union pour la

Nouvelle République (UNR) reached about the same level as the RPF in 1951. Due to the plurality principle (single member districts) Gaullist representation in the assembly reached almost 40 per cent (with 20.4 per cent of the votes cast). At first de Gaulle governed with the support of leading parliamentarians from Right, centre and Left. But once the Algerian crisis was settled, by granting self-determination (in opposition to the CNIP and the 'ultra' Right), de Gaulle proceeded with his most important domestic concern: strengthening the position of the president by direct popular election. On this issue the UNR stood alone, except for a small faction of CNIP conservatives who under Giscard now formed the Independent Republicans. Confronted with this massive opposition de Gaulle dissolved parliament again, secured a majority of 61.6 per cent of votes cast for the constitutional amendment and an increase in the Gaullist vote at the parliamentary elections from 20.4 to 36.3 per cent(and thus a majority in the National Assembly). The French seemed to have rejected the systéme des parts and consecrated him as their leader.

To the party system, judged to divide the country, de Gaulle preferred the direct appeal to the people, the plebiscite in the Bonapartist and Rousseauist tradition. He wanted to remain above the parties and treated even his own with contempt, refusing to lead it or even to appear at the annual party convention. The UNR thus was a

cadre party with, in the early 19605, a membership of about 50,000 compared with 6.6 million voters in the 1962 elections. By the time of de Gaulle's departure, this figure had perhaps doubled (Berger, 1972:-412). What de Gaulle expected from the party was unconditional

support, this was reflected in the absence of discussion at the party meetings. In part this may have resulted from the fact that the UNR rank and file wanted to retain Algeria and often sympathized with the OAS. He did not envisage a political participation that went beyond voting in elections and referendums, and was not prepared to accept any limitations from any party, including his own (Chariot, 1971). The UNR attracted voters from all groups of the population fairly evenly. Most remarkable perhaps was the strong support it enjoyed among blue-collar workers, especially after 1962 when the leftist Gaullists of the Union Democratize du Travail (UDT) associated with the UNR. More workers voted for the Gaullists than either for the

Change and Continuity in French Conservatism


Communist Party or the socialist Left. Gaullist ideas about a united nation helped: in the general drive for economic expansion, workers must not be shortchanged and peasants not simply modernized out of existence. It was a question of national strength and cohesion, not of defending special interests: 'The aim of the struggle of prosperity was not so much to make life more comfortable for such and such a category of Frenchmen as to build up thewealth, the power and the greatness of France as a whole' (de Gaulle, 1971: 160). Thus developed the Gaullist idea of economic growth as a duty, the result of effort, sacrifice and discipline - if necessary in the form of strong state

intervention (Lauber, 1983:4~8). He would have liked to see a structure which would give the working class its appropriate place in French

society, a place he felt was denied to it in the past. His vision of 'participation' was meant to integrate wage-earners and give them a stake in the nation's growth and prosperity. For ten years de Gaulle ruled rather solitaril y, clearly dominating government as well as his party and its allies. But in 1968-9 his majority and his policy fell apart. Giscard's austerity policy in the mid-1960s had irritated many social groups, even though the policy was modified by Debra in 1967. The visions of participation had yielded few results, partly because they were sabotaged by Prime Minister Pompidou (Lacouture, 1986). In May 1968 student and

worker protest concentrated on the solitary leader. In handling the crisis Pompidou showed greater skill than the President. It was to him that conservative voters frightened by the crisis now turned. At the elections of lure 1968, the composition of the UNR electorate changed decisively: from a party that represented the whole population fairly evenly it became the 'party o f f e r ' (Goldey, l9'10a), more numerous in terms of voters, but over-representing the most conservative elements

of French society and entirely averse to de Gaulle's plans of 'participation'. From a party of economic dynamism, the UNR now

became a gathering place for frightened middle-class people threatened by economic modernization and looking for protection. Subsequent developments confirmed the shift, the Gaullist movement was never the same again. The 1969 referendum was an attempt to reach out once more beyond those narrow boundaries. It failed, de Gaulle resigned and Pompidou became the natural leader of this new brand of 'Gaullisrni The Right under President Pompidou

Before the 1969 referendum, Pompidou had made it clear that he was available for the presidency should de Gaulle decide to step down. Giscard opposed de Gaulle openly in that referendum and supported


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

Pornpidou's bid. The presidential election of 1969 showed the

composition of the new Gaullist electorate: support in the industrial

areas of the north and north-east dwindled whereas the conservative west and especially the poor and backward areas of the centre and south-west showed strong increases (Goldey, 1970b). Pompidou rewarded his supporters with a coalition that included Giscard (dismissed from government by de Gaulle in late 1965) and his Independent Republicans plus a former centrist opposition group (PDM). In terms of policy the payoff came later on, especially with the 1972 shift. The Gaullists thus maintained their hegemony over French conservatism but less clearly so than during the first decade of the Fifth Republic. For the first time they had to seriously negotiate the support

of traditional conservatives. In terms of practical policy, Pompidou at first continued the expansionist line of his predecessor though greater emphasis was placed on prosperity than on national grandeur, discipline or sacrifice. Full employment had operated to the advantage of wage-earners (most of whom had no longer voted Gaullist in 1968-9), but in 1972 this policy was reversed. Pompidou now seemed to prepare a strategy designed to win support chiefly among the victims ofrnodernization small peasants, shopkeepers, and artisans, many of whom had joined


Gaullism in 1968. Prime Minister Chaban¢Delmas, who had been wooing workers and 'modern' social categories such as the new middle

class, was dropped and replaced by Messmer and a new concern for the backward sectors. Pompidou thus marks the transition from the dynamic, modernizing, 'aggressive' Gaullism of the General to an economically and electorally much more 'defensive' Gaullisln of later years (Lauber, 1983:12). When Pompidou died in 1974, the Gaullists could not agree on who should be their candidate for the presidential election. There were

serious disagreements between the group of 'progressives' around Chaban~Delmas, himself one of the Gaullist old guard ('barons'), and a conservative faction led by Chirac, a long-time protégé of Pompidou's who identified more easily with the non-Gaullist conservative Giscard. In the first round of the 1974 presidential elections, Chaban-Delrnas, as the Gaullist party's official candidate, mustered only 14.6 per cent of the vote. It seemed as though Gaullism might henceforth play a merely auxiliary role on the right, supporting the conservative politicians that it had rejoined after dropping many of the General's concepts and after losing a good part of his political support.

Change and Continuity in French Conservatism


Conservatism Divided: 1974-81 During the presidency of Giscard d'Estaing the Right split into two roughly equal camps. Giscard could not secure control over the Gaullist party, so he needed his own basis of support to avoid domination by the Gaullists who in 1974 still held a majority in the National Assembly. Giscard differed from the Gaullists by his political analysis and strategy, he also took a different view of social reform and of leadership style. Yet Giscard's liberal leanings were strongly limited by his electoral and parliamentary supporters when it came to

economic policy. In that respect at least the two groups were similarly conservative. In terms of political style and tradition Giscard was in the Organist tradition of liberal conservatism, with an emphasis on local notables

and carefully negotiated compromises (rather than the charismatic leader or direct appeals to the people), with little structured party organization and low rates of party membership. As to the history of this current, most of the CNIP conservatives who in 1958 had supported de Gaulle deserted him in 1962 (except for the group led by Giscard), in the elections of that year they were either defeated or absorbed by the Democratic Centre, which in 1966 also added the MRP and moderate Radicaux (Williams and Harrison, 1973:125-48) to its ranks but which had no lasting political success. In 19?4, in order to bolster his own position Giscard secured the support of the Democratic Centrists in the presidential elections, rewarding them afterwards with ministerial posts and including them in his presidential majority. This group provided his basis of support in the National Assembly. Polls among the electorate seemed to indicate that this loose coalition was quite popular although it disposed of little organization (Schonfeld, 1981:98). The coalition was organized only after Chirac set out to rebuild the crumbling Gaullist party. In 1978 the Union for French Democracy (UDF) was set up, it included Giscard's own Patti Républicain (the former Independent Republicans), the Centre des Démocrates Social (CDS, a descendant of the old MRP) and

moderate Radical. But the old conservative-centrist reluctance for organization and discipline continued and the UDF never became a very effective or centralized political machine. The Gaullists' evolution was quite different. After the split during the 1974 campaign and the disastrous outcome for Chaban-Delmas, Chirac was rewarded with the prime ministerial office for the delivery of Gaullist votes to Giscard. The Gaullist party now went into decline in terms of moral and electoral support. Some Gaullists viewed Chirac

as a traitor to their party, when they wanted to exclude him they discovered that he was not even a member. In any case it was Chirac


The Transformation

of Contemporary


who gained the upper hand in the party and imposed himself as its

leader. After his resignation as prime minister over a conflict with Giscard in 1976, he set out energetically to reorganize the party to make it serve his own purposes and (presidential) ambitions. The UDR (the former UNR) was dissolved and the Reassemblement pour la République (RPR) founded. With the help of this party Chirac sought to dominate the Right. The RPR was to be a party going beyond the Gaullist heritage, The idea was to bring in new men, to develop a new doctrine and to create a mass party rather than the cadre party such as the UNR-UDR had been. The top leadership of the party underwent a major purge, Chirac replaced the old Gaullist barons such as Debre, Guyana or ChabanDelrnas with his own supporters. As to doctrine, a proliferation of papers quite unusual for a conservative party showed a lack of reference to de Gaulle or Pompidou, strong anti-socialist and anti~ communist rhetoric and a lack of concern for economic modernization. Finally there was the self-proclaimed shift to a mass party. An organizational network was set up and numerous rallies sponsored throughout France which usually climaxed in the appearance and acclamation of Chirac himself (de Gaulle had sought popular acclamation but not by party meetings). The party also made an effort to penetrate new milieux, especially the work-place, in order to gain wage-earner (particularly blue-collar) support, its goal was to become representative of the whole nation, on the model of the RPF and the UNR of the mid-1960s (Schonfeld, 1981). Chirac expected a victory for the united Left in 1978. In the ensuing crisis he meant to become the providential Saviour of the Right. When in 1977 the leftist coalition broke apart this was a severe blow to his plans. He reacted by reverting to a more Gaullist image: the old barons were again accepted and de Gaulle's name h o n o r e d once more. The

1978 elections put the RPR in a good though not in a dominant position, the same was true in 1981, though the RPR was slightly ahead of the UDF in that contest. Above all it had the advantage of a stronger and more coherent organization. Even though the two parties drew essentially on the same electorate, their leaders disagreed quite seriously in their analysis of the economic, social and political situation. At the outset of his presidency Giscard wanted to modernize France in such a way as to meet the aspirations of the modern middle class, whom he viewed as holding the key to the future. Some of his reform plans were passed with the votes of the opposition and against the RPR (thus the controversial abortion law); others were effectively blocked

by conservative deputies from both parties of the Right (tax reform). To achieve his goal of political modernization Giscard considered it

Change and Continuity in French Conservatism


essential to include the Socialists in a centrist policy consensus, he did not believe that the union of the Left would last and hoped to create a political centre from which France could be governed for a considerable period. In economics he placed great emphasis on the need for monetary stability to restrain the struggle between different groups which threatened to exhaust French society at times of high inflation. His first response to the oil crisis of 1973-4 was to deflate; this seriously curtailed investment and increased unemployment sharply. He then gave Chirac a free hand, in 1975, to conduct a reflationary Keynesian policy (which Chirac also thought essential to prevent electoral disaster) but stopped the experiment in 1976 when the balance of trade deficit increased dramatically. Chirac resigned in protest and Giscard appointed Barre as the new prime minister who, until 198 l , conducted a policy of (rather gentle) austerity. Barre was in favour of reducing state intervention but above all he was a pragmatist, neither monetarist nor a laissez-faire liberal. Chirac and many RPR deputies proclaimed their disagreement with this policy but Barre forced them to choose between support and open opposition. Reluctantly the RPR supported his policy in the National Assembly while undoubtedly building up a

fervent desire for revenge. Chirac and the RPR contrasted with the Giscardiens by being more traditionalist in their approach to societal issues and more authoritarian in their political habits. But the core of their disagreement concerned the attitude towards the Left, which Chirac viewed as united and a danger to the country. To prevent electoral and national catastrophe he advocated relation, and in 1975 initiated several measures to ease the unemployment situation. He claimed that only

strong state intervention could provide the necessary dynamism, increase investments and solve the unemployment problem (Lauber, l983:1ll-17). As to Barre's stabilization, it meant slow death for the French economy. What was needed was a heroic effort to meet the challenge, coming from leaders who would dramatize the situation rather than lull the country in false contentment. In 1981 however, only a few months before the presidential elections, Chirac suddenly shifted his analysis radically. Probably in response to the international trend of neoconservatism and in order to facilitate future attacks on the Left, he now discovered the evils of excessive state intervention, taxation and regulation. This creeping socialism had paved the way for disaster by destroying French dynamism. The new line of attack on Barre and Giscard clearly differed from that of the Left. It did not produce immediate success but prepared the ground for the major realignment of the entire Right

during the years that followed. Chirac's timely shift of 198 l put him on the offensive for the opposition years, inhibited discussion of his own

46 The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

past (which was quite in contradiction with the newly discovered truths) and put Giscard, and to some extent Barre, in the unpleasant position of having to defend a luckless record. Defeat and Recovery: 1981-6

The Right first reacted to the disaster of 1981 with disbelieffollowed by a sense of outrage at the 'usurpation' of the Left. It delighted in a warped perception of reality, predicting economic catastrophe as well as the transformation of France into a gigantic gulag. (These simplistic attacks on the Left - coming mainly from the RPR greatly facilitated the rise of Le Pen, he too made every effort to equate socialist reforms with Stalinism or worse.) At a different level there was a search for new foundations, intellectual and organizational. Leaders concerned with the power of ideas argued that only cultural hegemony could provide the basis of success for the Right, hence the importance ofsetting up what the Left had called its 'clubs', that is, laboratories of ideas and policy proposals. The Right now promoted its own, most importantly the 'Club de l'Horloge' (actually created in 1974), which produced many of the new rightist themes, from anti-egalitarianism and anti-socialism ('socialism equates totalitarianism equates Facism') via law and order to an all~out attack on the state, state bureaucracy, -.-.

state regulations, state schools and state enterprises. In this undertaking the Right was helped by the general exhaustion of socialist and

social democratic ideas in the late 1970s and early 19805, aphenomenon that reached far beyond France. But two elements complicated the task of the Right. One was the conversion of the Socialist government in 1982-3 to an economic austerity policy much like that of Barre. To conduct an unrestrained attack on that government, the Right now had to repudiate its own

past, not only 'socialo-communist' reforms would be rolled back, but past errors of the Right as well, it now claimed. Chirac was least inhibited in this, helped by the authoritarian structure of his party and his previous shift in early 1981. His followers barely winced when he jumped from one approach to another (when he criticized the Left's relation of 1981 he seemed to have forgotten his own, equally unsuccessful attempt of 1975). The RPR in fact now stressed that disaster in the form of creeping socialism had begun to set in as early as 1974. The other element that complicated the programmatic development of the Right was the rise, in 1983-4, of the Front National (FN) which knew of no inhibitions in its demagogy, and exploited public fears concerning (mainly Arab) immigrants and a rising crime rate with claims that were often contradicted by statistical evidence. Le Pen called for discrimination against immigrants, a new moral order


Change and Continuity in French Conservatism


that would outlaw abortion and homosexuality and exclude Marxists from state schools, he called for more energetic repression by police and the judiciary, including physical punishment and the death penalty, for limiting the right to strike and for freeing labour unions from the Marxist stranglehold; and finally, for reducing the role of the state in the economic sphere, though excepting small businesses and farmers. Le Pen has a strong Poujadist element but above all he is the uncontested heir of Vichy, of Pétain's 'national revolution' of 1940-2, though he incorporates all the other elements of the far Right as well:

the 'ultras', Boulangisrn and to some extent Fascism (Rollat,


1985:109-41). Le Pen's sudden success induced the RPR and to some extent the UDF -- to move further to the Right, since the three parties were largely competing for the same electorate. Another central concern of rightist leaders was to lay down new organizational foundations. Progress with setting up a true mass party was claimed particularly by the RPR. It declared that its membership had tripled between 1976 and 1983, from about 250,000 to 750,000. Though the absolute figures are probably inflated by perhaps as much as 200 per cent, the tripling itself is likely to be correct (Schonfeld, 198 l :101, Ysmal, 198403-89). The components of the UDF undertook a similar effort but with more modest success. In fact both RPR and UDF have very few real militants - political amateurs devoted to their cause - who participate in the life of the party, its internal debates and the like. The RPR's authoritarian structure reduces its rank and file to apassive role: even at meetings militants cannot speak, and most party officers are not elected but appointed by the party's president who in turn is elected at a national convention as the single candidate and with a score approaching 100 per cent. In the CDS and the RPR there are more internal elections but the membership is dominated by the local

notables, those leaders with competence and experience in whom these parties place their trust, here too there is little room for militants. In addition, the UDF still has only a weak central organization and continues to debate its own structure, a debate that Chirac helps to keep alive in order to maintain his partner as weak as possible (Ysmal, 1984). As to the third party of the Right, Le Pen's Front National, it too has taken to organization but only very recently. The core group of the

Front National has a long past. Some earlier organizations of the far Right (Occident, later Ordre Nouveau) were dissolved because of violence and racism in 1969 and 1973 respectively. The Front National itself was created in 1972. Le Pen established himself as its leader in the mid-1970s not without difficulty (his critics argued that he had

accumulated too many failures since his first success as a Poujadist deputy in 1956). His campaign themes have not changed very much


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of Contemporary


over the last twenty years: immigration and rising crime rates were already prominent a long time ago, also the attacks on the state as the chief source of inefficiency. But until 1982 Le Pen was a marginal character: in 1981 he could not even gather the 500 signatures necessary to run for the presidential elections. His first surprise victory

came at the municipal elections of 1983, when his arguments - and his demagogic appeals to fear were taken up by RPR and UDF mayors


throughout France. In the autumn of that year an electoral alliance

with RPR and UDR for the by-election of Dreux consecrated his success, followed in February 1984 by his breakthrough on national television which attracted many followers from the ranks of the RPR (and sometimes the UDF)- Then came his triumph in the European elections of 1984, with Le Pen's party achieving I l per cent at the national level and about 20 per cent in many departments with piedsnoirs (white French settlers returned from Algeria after 1962), especially those in the area of Marseille-Provence-COte d'Azur (Rollat, 1985). The Right's membership (and to some extent electorate) consists largely of the economically backward, non wage-earning groups threatened by modernization. Peasants, artisans, shopkeepers and small industrialists are all over-represented at the base, while there are only few (and mostly atypical) blue-collar workers. The only exception is the Front National, whose electorate is more working class, younger and more male than that of Right as a whole. There are relatively few intellectuals in the parties of the Right, at the upper levels industrialists, the liberal professions and salaried executives predominate, but even they are more technicians than people with a broad perspective -~ a handicap when it comes to developing programmes and party doctrine. The trauma caused by the sudden loss of power at the national level

facilitated the conversion to new ideas. It was over the degree of change that tensions arose. Chirac took the initiative in this area as in others. In the 1970s he had undercut the modernizing drive of Gaullism (modernization of the economy by state intervention) and of Giscardism (modernizing society in the sphere of social conduct). In the 1980s his combination of aggressive laissez-faire and law and order allowed attacks on the Socialists for intervening too much in the economy and for being soft on crime. In practice law and order meant greater discretionary powers for the police; laissez~faire economics translated into the advocacy of denationalization of most public sector

firms (even those nationalized under de Gaulle after the Second World War), deregulation (greater freedom for businessmen, especially the right to dismiss employees without the administrat approvals introduced by Chirac himself in 1975), and reduction of the tax

Change and Continuity in French Conservatism


burden, plus compression of the civil service and of the social welfare system. In working on a programme the UDF was handicapped by its internal disagreements on policy as well as on party structure. On most points, the approach was similar to that of Chirac, though there was more concern about liberalism in the social sphere and a reluctance to join in Chirac's extreme rhetoric. Only one former UDF leader marked his distance from Chirac very clearly: Giscard's former Prime Minister,

Raymond Barre, who in fact had supporters in both UDF and RPR. He established himself early on as a credible presidential candidate and thus inevitably entered into conflict with Chirac. Though not a Gaullist by political affiliation, Barre seemed to be the only leader of the Right who by the mid-1980s advocated a policy with a minimum of similarity to that of de Gaulle, though his vision of society seemed more narrowly economic than that of the General. Unlike the others he did not wholly reject the Socialist experience begun in 1981 and even praised that government for its austerity plan which, he argued, any responsible leadership would have to continue. Against the ideological fashions which Chirac so eagerly took up he maintained his belief in the need for a mixed economy. The state should continue to set up the general framework through planning, regulating demand, redistribution, and the like. Nor did Barre support Chirac's plans for sudden and comprehensive denationalization and proposed instead to decide more empirically whether reprivatization

was promising in particular cases or not. Similarly with deregulation: Barre placed little faith in the psychological shock treatment of business by dramatic measures in its favour (this is what Chirac proposed), but stressed the importance of patiently promoting greater initiative and responsibility. Without attacking Chirac directly, he

treated his hot-headed manner with mild ridicule, pointing also to contradictions such as the promise to cut taxes and reduce budget deficits at the same time. Barre also took a stand against the demagogic treatment of the immigration issue by Le Pen, Chirac and others and stressed the positive contributions made by immigrant workers in the economic progress of the country. In foreign policy he remained favorable to detente, contrasting with the RPR's Cold War attitudes and its recent conversion to Atlanticism and enhanced military cooperation in Europe. Finally Barre behaved like a Gaullist in matters of political style: he called for more dignity and correctness in dealing with political adversaries and refused to set up a Barrist group for the 1986 elections on the grounds that he meant to remain above the parties and the tricks and games they play in their artificial

'rnicrocosrn He proposed to concentrate instead on the true interests of the nation as a whole. With public opinion this attitude seemed to


The Transformation

of Contemporary


succeed: despite the fact that he had once been the most unpopular prime minister of the Fifth Republic he consistently obtained the highest approval ratings of any political leader of the Right in the mid-1980s. The Return to Power The parliamentary elections of March 1986 returned the Right to power, with a rather narrow majority for RPR and UDF' who had announced that they would govern without help from the FN. Compared to the 1981 parliamentary elections there were important changes. The strongest swing was in the wage-earning middle class,

which had shifted to the Left in 1981 and which now returned to its earlier political habits (Le Gall, 1986: l l). Additional votes also came from the working class. Among this group support for the Left had reached its highest point in 1978 and declined continuously afterwards , along with the decline of the Communist Party. The FN with nearly 10 per cent of the vote may have reached its peak in 1986. Although many common RPR-UDF lists make it difficult to decide which of the two parties was more successful, those departments with separate candi-

dacies indicate greater expansion for the RPR. In any case, given the much more efficient organization of that group, it was natural that Chirac would be the Right's prime minister. The Right now set out to implement its programme. In the first six months a whole series of laws was passed with great haste. Part of this was due to Chirac's presidential ambitions for the election of 1988. This in turn required early completion of important reforms so that the

unavoidable controversies attending their passage would make place for a period of greater stability before the beginning of the electoral campaign. Most of the economic programme drawn up during the

opposition years was translated into legislation. A framework for reprivatization was set up, with a much larger number of firms to be reprivatized than the Left had nationalized in 1982. The tax system was reformed in favour of the wealthy: the progression ofincorne tax rates and taxes on business reduced, the wealth tax abolished, a tax amnesty introduced, gold transactions made anonymous again. These measures were mostly reversals of what the Left had done during its five years in power. Reforms in the area of deregulation were less spectacular than expected. There was the partial abolition of price and exchange controls, also the repudiation of administrative permits for dismissals (introduced some eleven years earlier by Giscard and Chirac but now celebrated as a victory over the Left) and the relaxation of other l a b o r

regulations. On the whole, it began to seem unlikely that these deregulation measures would really infuse the French economy with

Change and Continuity in French Conservatism


the promised dynamism. This comes as no great surprise if one thinks of the economic backwardness of much of the conservative electorate and their probably quite limited interest in promoting modern forms of capitalism. The Right had promised not only to reduce taxes but also to restrict state expenditure. On this account little was done in 1986, and not much more with the passage of the 1987 budget. If the

tax cuts did not increase the budget deficit, is was due less to foresight than to lucky circunT§i"§Fices. The falling oil prices had increased business profit margins and thus tax revenue in a particularly painless way. A similarly paradoxical situation prevailed in foreign trade. The Right had promised to improve the trade balance by a new economic dynamism. In 1986 the trade balance did in fact improve but only because of the lower cost of oil imports. The real situation was characterized by setbacks: substantial decline in exports and an import surge similar to those of 1975-6 and 1981-2 (in both cases they put an

end to government-initiated reflations). The problem clearly showed up in the balance of trade deficits of 1987. In 1986 economic policy produced no major disagreements between the forces of the Right (even Barre limited his objections), and no decisive problems with the country at large. At the end of the year a wildcat strike among railway employees briefly seemed to threaten the policy of continued austerity but the strike collapsed after a few weeks without major concessions by the government. Even the Socialists did not lend much support to the strikers. They did not question the need for austerity and only pointed out that in such difficult times it was unfair to impose sacrifices only on selected groups of the population while others (the wealthy) were granted tax cuts and other privileges. There was one crisis though which showed the limitations of Chirac's (and the RPR's) approach to politics. It occurred in an area in

which the Right is more divided than in the field of economic policy, namely in that of authority relations and leadership style. The immediate issue was university reform. Under pressure from RPR academics, a law was introduced to re-establish the unquestioned authority of the professors in a more hierarchical university system.

Student protest (mostly against other aspects of the law) formed outside the established political channels. The ministers in charge of police and security took a high-handed approach in line with RPR notions of true leadership and treated the demonstrations as a test of the government's ability to maintain law and order. There was at least latent encouragement of police violence, presumably to the satisfaction of part of the right-wing electorate. After the first victims however (one student died after maltreatment by the police) strong dissent broke out in governmental ranks. Pressure from the UDF and from public


The Transformation

of Contemporary

Con servahfsm

opinion persuaded Chirac to back down. The planned university reform and other measures were subsequently withdrawn. It was generally thought that Chirac lost a good part of his leadership image in the process. Conclusion

In looking back over the past several decades there are several issues which at times divided French conservatives. At the outset of the Fifth Republic, the Algerian problem plus the election of the President by popular suffrage split Gaullists and CNIP conservatives. On the Algerian question the CNIP simply had to submit. When they refused to do so on the constitutional issue in 1962, they paid for it with an electoral disaster from which it took them (or their intellectual heirs) more than a decade to recover. In economic policy, Gaullists and CNIP conservatives have opposed each other since the late 1940s. The Gaullists wanted to increase national wealth in such a way as to increase social cohesion as well, if necessary by pressurizing businessmen into expansion or by mandating a fair share for wage earners. The CNIP conservatives (and to some extent the centrist parties which absorbed many of them in 1962) were more concerned with the deface of property and privilege. Once de Gaulle had disappeared and Gaullism was reorganized under Pompidou and his successors (both Chirac and Balladur were among his close collaborators) the two strands of conservatism came closer together. In the 19705 differences over economic policy were already

much reduced. While there was still disagreement over goals ('rapid' versus 'gentle' growth) and means (strong state intervention versus pragmatic liberalism), much of it was simply a matter of electoral strategy, of how best to deal with the Left. After 1981 , neoconservative

ideas, first introduced by Chirac, dominated the entire Right, differences on economic policy now became quite marginal. While the constitutional question was settled in the early years of the Fifth Republic, differences in organization and leadership style reemerged with the reconstitution of a second conservative party under

Giscard. While the RPR is strongly centralized and openly authoritarian, the UDF and its member groups .are decentralized and in the

parliamentary tradition. The RPR and its leaders like to resort to dramatic appeals, heroic and sometimes simplistic language, polarizing rhetoric and a 'riding-crop nationalism' (as Giscard once put it). The UDF is more subdued and more concerned to maintain a dialogue with the Socialists and others close to the centre.

Other societal and cultural issues also divide RPR and UDF. These issues became important in the l9'70s; they include abortion, control

Change and Contfnuiry in French Conservatism


over the media, education, immigration, law and order and the like. It is with regard to those (rather than to economic) issues that the concept of liberalism is useful to describe the general line of the UDF, as opposed to the more traditionally conservative or authoritarian position of the RPR. Despite those differences between their leadership, the two major parties of the Right (and the FN also, for that matter) are strikingly similar when it comes to the socioeconomic characteristics of their electorate. De Gaulle was an anomaly among conservative politicians with his electorate that included a large share of blue-collar workers and lower-middle-class people. His successors were never able to regain those voters. He occupied a special position also with regard to foreign and economic policy, as described above. Since his withdrawal from French politics conservatism has returned to normality: French conservatives today are not very different from their neoconservative fellows in other countries. What remains of de Gaulle's heritage is paradoxically - a strongly organized party, the very thing he cared for least.

References Anderson, Malcolm (l9?4) Conservative Poiiiics in France, London: George Allen and Unwire.

Berger, Suzanne ($9"I3) 'The French Political System', pp. 333-470 in Samuel H. Beer and Adam B. Ulam (eds), Patterns of Government. New York: Random House. Capdevielle J., E. Dupoirier, G. Grunberg, E. Schweisguth and C. Ysmal (1981)France de gauche vote a drove. Paris: Foundation Nationals des Sciences Politiques. Chariot, Jean (1971) The Gauflisr Phenomenon. London: George Allen and-Unwin. De Gaulle, Charles (1971) Memoirs of !-Iope. New York: Simon and Schuster. Goldey, David (1970a) 'The Party of Fear: the Election of June 1968', pp. 261-81 in Philip M. Williams (ed.), French Politicians and Elections. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Goldey, David (l9?0b) 'Gaullism without de Gaulle? The 1969 referendum and presidential election', pp. 282-7 in Philip M. Williams, French Pofiricians and Elections. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hoffmann, Stanley (1963) 'Paradoxes of the French Political Community',pp. 1-1 f 7 in S. Hoffmann et al., In Search of France. New York: Harper & Row. Lacouture, Jean (1986) De Gaulle, vol. 3. Paris: Le Seuil. Lauber, Volkmar (1983) The Poiiriccn' Economy 0f Franee. New York: Praeger. Le Gall, Gerard (1986) 'Mars 1986: des elections de transitions?', Revue politique or

parlementaire, 88 (922):6-18. Plenel, Edwy and Alain Rollat (1984) L'effez Le Pen. Paris: La Découverte. Redmond, René (1968) La droire en France. 3rd edit. Paris: Calmann-Lévy. Rollat, Alain (1985) Les hombres de Fexzreme droire. Paris: Calmann-Levy. Schonfeld, William R. (1981) 'From a Reassemblement

to the Gaullist MovemcnL', pp.

91-111 in William G. Andrews and Stanley Hoffmann (eds) The Fifth Repubfie at Twenty. Albany: State University of New York Press.

54 The Transformation of Contemporary


Williams, Philip M. (1970) French Politicians and Elections 1951-69. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Williams, Philip M. and Martin Harrison (l9?3) Politics and Society in de GouI1e'5 Republic. New York: Doubleday Anchor. Ysmal, Colette (1984) Dentin pa droNe. Paris: Grasset. Ysmal, Colette (1986) Le comportemenz élecroraf des Franqrais. Paris: La Découverte.

4 Neoconservatism without Neoconservatives? The Renaissance and Transformation of

Contemporary German Conservatism Edgar Grande


Conservatism is in full vogue not only in Great Britain and the United States, but also in West Germany. This has been indicated by the persisting crisis of West German social democracy both as a parliamentary power and as an intellectual force. The social democratic topics and slogans of the early 1970s, such as reform policy, codetermination, participation, anti-authoritarian education, and social equality have lost their political significance, in recent political debates issues such as individual effort, the market, family, 'Heir at', nation and so on have replaced them. From the angle of social democracy all the relevant issues concerning the political identity of capitalist democracies are now occupied by conservative or neoconservative ideologies (Glotz, 1984; Dubiel, 1985). Such a shift of ideological hegemony, if it has really taken place, would be a remarkable event, especially if we recall that conservatism had been completely discredited in West Germany after the Second World War. In the 1950s, even the use of the term 'conservative' 'evoked the whole gamut of negative feelings from disco

fort to objection, from mockery to

hatred' (Schuster, 1959: 76). However, not only the political significance of German conservatism has changed, its ideological structure has been transformed as well. The old-fashioned conservatives, thinking back to the agrarian-rnonarchic Prussia with nostalgia, have been replaced by a 'modern' conservatism, accepting parliamentary democracy and industrial capitalism. Against that background, this

study attempts to analyse the political and ideological renaissance of German conservatism since the 1960s and its present political relevance. Conservatism: an Analytical Concept

Any analysis of contemporary German conservatism is confronted with a serious methodological difficulty: it has to define its subject




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theoretically. Since the Second World War there has been no political party which defines itself as conservative and on whose politics and policies research could focus, and even individual politicians and

intellectuals were often reluctant to label themselves 'conservative'. Yet, there is a substantial literature in which the post-war history of West Germany is seen as being shaped mainly by conservative forces. This paradox might be circumvented in two different ways. Conser-

vatism could be defined by means of some 'basic values' underlying .conservative ideology (family, tradition, law, religion, custom, morals, property, freedom and so on), which might be extracted from historical or cross-national comparisons. Even if such an "original" conservatism could be reconstructed, such an approach would

encounter serious difficulties. It might concentrate on matters of secondary importance and neglect not only the national but also the contemporary peculiarities of German conservatism.' An alternative proposal, made by Layton-Henry (1982:16-17), suggests that contemporary conservatism in West Germany might be equivalent with the ideology and the policies of the dominant right-wing elements in the West German party system, the Christian Democratic Union (Christlich Demokratische Union, CDU) or, following Mintzel (1982), the Christian-Social Union (Christlich-Soziale Union; CSU). There is some empirical evidence supporting such an approach, for example, the ideological and political affinities between Christian-democratic parties and those parties defining themselves explicitly as conservative (for example the British Conservative Party). However, this would ignore the fact that the CDU and CSU have always been more than conservative parties. Among West European parties, the CDU and. CSU probably come closest to Kirchheitner's concept of a 'catch-all party' (see Schmidt, 1985:383ff). Thus, there has always been a certain 'discomfort of conservatives with the CDU' (Schrenck-Notzing, 1977).

In sum, both approaches are unsatisfactory. Instead, I suggest an analytical concept of conservatism which allows one to specify the historical-concrete appearance of conservative ideology in West Germany, its recent transformations, and its present political relevance. Conservatism will be interpreted as just that political opposition inherent in the process of social modernization. It is not the initiator of social transformations, but presupposes them and, henceforth, tries to obstruct or modify them. In a historical perspective this explains why the different varieties of conservative ideologies emerged mainly in periods of radical sociopolitical change, such as the French -Revolution, the (failed) German bourgeois revolution in the mid~nineteenth century, or at the end of the Weimar Republic. This implies that conservative opposition would become obsolete, if the process of social modernization came to a halt. Most important for our

Contemporary German Conservatism

analysis, social modernization


is not a homogeneous process but

consists of processes of economic-technological, political and cultural transformation.2 Economic crises, technological innovations, the destabilization of political institutions ('ungovernability'), the erosion of cultural florins and values, offer very different starting points for conservative criticism. Thus, the contemporary heterogeneity of conservative ideology can be interpreted as a necessary by-product of the very heterogeneity of social transformations.

This definition needs two qualifications: firstly, the conservative opposition, its political actors and its ideological forms, had to be understood within its specific historical context, and cannot be deduced from 'eternal' values (Greiffenhagen, 1971:67). The process of social modernization permanently creates new constellations of problems; and, in doing so, it transforms the preconditions of conservative action and reaction. Here, we have to take into account that conservative criticism is not necessarily irrational or anti-rational, but might relate to real crises and contradictions of social modernization.3 Secondly, the conservative opposition has also to be analysed on different levels of appearance, depending on its specific national, sociopolitical context. Conservative opposition may take the form of: I. A political organization (especially a political party) in which the diversity of conservative fighting lines might be disentangled and

concentrated onto a common adversary. 2. A political ideology provided by an intellectual movement in journals and newspapers, where conservative criticism might be intensified and radicalized.

3. Political norms and Values guiding citizens' actions in everyday political life. Each of these different forms of appearance of conservative opposition

enjoys a certain degree of autonomy. A conservative party can be forced to include more than only conservative issues in its programme for reasons of electoral success, conservative intellectuals might be able to express their criticism more drastically and clearly than a party can, finally, political value patterns and norms can change in everyday life long before political parties are aware of these 'changes of tendency'(Tbnd%nzwenden) The development of German conservatism since the end of the

Second World War has decisively been shaped by the fact that these different forms of appearance have not been integrated in politics. There was no conservative party organizing and unifying the emerging conservative ideologies. Conservatives thought of themselves as being

'dogfighters' or 'partisans', their battlegrounds were not parties or parliaments, but intellectual journals. As a result, conservative


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ideologies and policies have developed only in vague and fragmented forms. Their relevance in West German politics has been dependent not only on the dynamics of crisis set free by the process of social modernization, but also by the competitive position of those parties closest to them, the CDU and the CSU, within the West German party system. Conservatism without Conservatives? - the 'CDU-State' in the 1950s

After the Second World War, conservatism in West Germany existed only through small circles of publicists, books and journals. It ceased to be an organization of political significance. The Deutsche Konservative Partei (German Conservative Party, DKP-DRP), was founded in 1946 to continue the tradition of the conservative Deutschnationale Volkspartei (National-German People's Party, DNVP) of the Weimar Republic but was dissolved in 1950. The Deutsche Partei (German Party, DP), which was part of the governing 'bourgeois bloc' from 1949 until 1960, did not become established in the West German party system as a conservative party, either. Although the party tried to present itself as a clear Protestantconservative alternative to the then predominantly Catholic CDU in the early 1950s, there was little difference between it and the CDU on the most relevant policy issues (economic policy, foreign policy and so on). After 1957 the DP was absorbed by the CDU to a large extent. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the hegemonic party within the 'bourgeois bloc' in the 1950s, did not see itself as a conservative party (Gurland, 1980, Nair, 1966, Pridham, 1977, Buchhaas, 1981, Schmidt, 1983, SchOnbohm, 1985). The CDUIs ideology then was a vague mixture

combining anti-communism,

political Catholicism and economic liberalism. In general, the CDU claimed to differ from the 'materialism' of liberals and socialists mainly by its emphasis on a 'confessional conception of life' (chrisrliehes Weftbild). This 'Christian-democratic syndrome' (Nair, 19661181-90) was without any logic and concise form, as the various internal discussions about the relevance and meaning of the Christian 'C' within the party's name clearly reveal. Its single elements (the Christian idea of order, personal-authoritarian concept of politics, consciousness of individual liberty, and anti-modernist resentment) remained indeterminate. However, it was just this vagueness that made the confessional factor an important means to tie the heterogeneous

party together (Nair, 1966:273, Buchhaas, 198l:220). In its policies the CDU was 'a markedly pragmatic force, for its various ideological motives did not provide a cohesive basis for

Contemporary German Conservatism


political activity' (Pridham, 1977:223). Notwithstanding significant ideological differences with the social democratic opposition in the 1950s (especially in economic, deface and foreign policy), the CDU, by and large, was able to manage without a clear»cut party programme. In its competition with the SPD, the party relied mainly on the political and economic success of its policies, and on the personal authority of its Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer (Heidenheimer, 1960)." Due to the hegemony of the 'Christian-democratic syndrome' conservative ideology was negligible in those years. Attempts to create a nostalgic 'conservative renewal'.(for example, Schoeps, 1958), partly oriented at the Prussian monarchy, were ineffective. After the 'shock by (Fascist) ideology' the (few) remaining conservatives took the

abandonment of ideology and the retreat into privacy as the appropriate individual response. They were not alone in that opinion. The retreat into privacy, into family and local parishes, constituted a general feature of the post-war period. There, in private everyday life, those virtues (diligence, subordination, willingness to make sacrifices) were restored and stabilized forming the moral basis of the 'CDU»state', political subjects were excluded or neutralized (Tenbruck, 1974). At the end of the successful 'restoration' (Dirks, 1950) the main interest was to maintain the new (material) gains, perfectly expressed by the CDU's election slogan: 'No experiments!'. Conservatism as a political ideology seemed to be obsolete in those years. Economic prosperity

and sociopolitical stability had banished the conservatives' fears and seemed to 'crystallize' (Gehlen) towards a new, static balance.

The Intellectual Renaissance of German Conservatism in the 19605: Technocratic Conservatism In the 1960s, the socioeconomic and political developments of the post-war period were reflected theoretically in the literary works of Forsthoff, Freyer, Gehlen, and Schelsky. These authors provided a new, updated basis for conservative ideology leading to its intellectual renaissance and reformulation. This 'technocratic conservatism'

(Greiffenhagen, 19711316-46) became the dominant line of conservative thinking in those years. The technocratic conservatives accepted the technological and industrial progress of the post-war period as an irrevocable fact, starting from the assumption that the 'sci ntific civilization' had developed to a stage where it was self-reproducing and self-stabilizing. Its stability would be ensured by a 'superstructure' comprising science ,

technology, big industry, and economic growth. In this 'industrial society' (Forsthoff) politics and ideology would lose their functions.


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Politics would be reduced to the execution of clearly pre-given, inherent necessities (Sachzwdnge). Thus, 'popular political will is replaced by the inherent principles of facts' (Schelsky, 1965:-453). The function of this 'technical state' was seen merely as safeguarding 'the technical execution of our existence' (Schelsky, $965:454). By this 'machinery', 'individual autonomy is ground down from all sides' (Freyer, 1959:68). Liberty is reduced to the irony that the individual bows to the inevitable with dignity. In terms of the historical philosophy of technocratic conservatism, the end of history as a progress initiated and controlled by men had arrived - the 'posthistoire' (Gehlen). Technocratic conservatism marked an important break with the

ideological traditions of German conservatism. The conservative criticism of industry and technology, which had dominated conservative ideology since the Romantic period (Sieferle, 1984) had been overcome and, disregarding some undertones of cultural criticism, conservatism was reconciled with tech fol Conservatives then recognized that their struggle against technology and scientific civilization was futile. Henceforth, the most relevant varieties of German conservatism were arguing on the basis of technological civilization and no longer against it. However, technological progress was perceived only as an impersonal machinery beyond human creativity. This 'civilizatory apparatus' (Freyer) was said to subdue the social and political domains, thus creating the conditions for its self-reproduction. In the 1970s, however, it has become obvious that technocratic conservatism - unlike the neoconservatism of the 1980s underrated both the possibilities and necessities of the social organization of technological modernization, and the potentials of individual and collective emancipation set free in this process.




The Political Renaissance of German Conservatism in the 1970s

The ideas of technocratic conservatism were highly important for the redefinition of conservative ideology, though their immediate political impact was weak. Their political emanation, Erhard's concept of an 'aligned society' (Fcrmferte Gesellschaft), in which the 'destructive forces of pluralism' ought to be subordinated to the logic ofindustrial-

capitalist progress, was not even accepted within the CDU and remained an appeal without any consequences (Buchhaas, 198 l :303-8).

The political renaissance of German conservatism started in the early 1970s (Saage, 1983). However, it did not find its expression in the foundation of a new conservative party- This 'new' conservatism

showed up first in a considerable change of political values and norms

Contemporary German Conservatism


(Tendenzwende) even in the young generation (Greiffenhagen, 1974,

1975). This change was reinforced by the establishment of various journals (such as Criticon, Konservatismus Heute, Herder Initiative), in which attempts were made towards a 'reconstruction of conservatism ' (Kaltenbrunner, 1972). It was also manifested at several congresses (for example 'Mut zur Erziehung'), where the formerly disorganized conservative intellectuals received important opportunities of articulation. Finally, the Christian-democratic parties, confronted with a decline of religious orientation, gave up their reserve to use the label

'conservative', although they did it in a specific way. The chairman of the CDU, Helmut Kohl, declared at the party's national conference in 1975: 'The CDU is today the liberal, the social, the conservative party

in the Federal Republic of Germany - based on firm principles, but not ideologically constricted' (CDU, 1975:41, SchOnbohm, 1985:302),

Similarly, the CSU's basic programme in 1976 stated: 'The CSU is a conservative party, because it is committed to a lasting order of values' (CSU, 1976: 231). At least four factors caused this political renaissance of German conservatism:

1. The studerzrs'protest movement infringed the 'inherent necessities' of technocratic 'industrial society'. Its call for individual emancipation not only eroded those cultural norms and values which had built the moral basis of the 'CDU-state', it destabilized the hierarchies and political power relationships that were considered to be a precondition of industrial-capitalist development. The students' protest movement gave German conservatives their second 'shock by ideology' (Ideologieschock). Faced with a threatening 'chaos', conservative patterns of thinking were (re-)activated and politicized even by liberal and social democratic

intellectuals. 2. The formation of the social-Ziberal government, having excluded the CDU from government for the first time since the foundation

of the Federal Republic, confronted German conservatism with a new political opponent. The social-liberal reform programme and its goal 'to risk more democracy' intensified conservative anxieties. Conservatives evoked threats of an 'inflation of expectations', 'loss of individuality', 'egalitarianism' and 'excessive bureaucracy'. In the tradition of statist thinking they saw the danger of an 'overstrained weak state' (Kaltenbrunner, 1975) and its jeopardized 'governability' (Hennis et al., 1977, 1979)3. The progrommoNc vacuum of the Christian Democratic UniOn in

its first years ofparliamentary opposition additionally reinforced the attractiveness of conservative ideology. The negative


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consequences of the deliberate renunciation of a strong programmatic image, characterizing the CDU in the 19505 and 1960s, became obvious after the electoral defeat in 1972 at the latest. Subsequently, the CDU initiated a process of programmatic and organizational modernization, in which conservative ideologies played a significant role. Two main internal factions competed for the hegemony in the process of the party's programmatic renewal. The alternatives were either to increase the party's electorate by adapting to the reform policies of the social-liberal government or to work out a distinct programmatic

image with the help of the then spreading conservative ideologies. 4. The crisis of economic growth since 1974-5 decisively boosted German conservatism. The economic crisis invalidated the assumptions of technocratic conservatives and brought them back from 'post-histoire' to reality. Conservatism was challenged from two sides: first, the economic crisis made it clear that

conservatives had overestimated the stability of the economy. The causes of the crisis, however, were not seen in the fundamental instability of capitalist economies. Instead, the policy of the social-liberal government was held responsible for the crisis. State intervention was blamed for derailing the economy, preventing it from getting back on the right track. This implied that politics were now in demand again - inherent necessities had become political imperatives. Secondly, green-alternative protest movements alleged 'limits of growth' and, as a conse-

quence, criticized the reality of capitalist industrial growth. Questions about the aims and objects of 'industrial society', which technocratic conservatives had supposed to answer with reference to the internal principles of scientific progress, were not

only put on the agenda again but became much more critical than before. As a result, the primacy of politics and ideology was re-established even in conservative ideology. This 'new' conservatism of the 19705 (Greiffcnhagcn, 1974, Elm,

1974) was no homogeneous political and ideological movement. Each of its different lines opposed only specific aspects of the process of social modernization, but none of them rejected it entirely. Thus, the distinctive feature of these 'new' conservative ideologies was their specific mixture of conservative opposition and progressive orientation. Moreover, this new conservatism emerged across the existing political parties and social movements. It did not organize along the traditional 'left-right' continuum, but manifested itself in the form of

intra-party conflicts and extra-party protests. The SPD was divided into economic modernists, 'working-class

conservatlves', and 'eco-

Contemporary German Conservatism


conservatives' at the end of the 1970s, in the CDU, social reformers and authoritarian conservatives were struggling to direct the party and even in the Green Party 'eco-conservatives' and 'eco-socialists' opposed each other. Trying to simplify, four varieties of conservative ideology can be distinguished since its renaissance in the early 1970s.

l . An authoritarian conservatism, which wants to promote industrial~ technological modernization (most explicitly FJ. StrauB: 'Conservative is to march in the front line of progress'), but which aims at repressing the potentials of social and political emancipation

set free by this process. In domestic policies, its main targets have been the liberalization of education and family policy and the expansion of the welfare state. In the view of authoritarian conservatives, the 'egalitarian society' supported by social-liberal policy is suffering from a fundamental evil: citizens no longer 'devote their individual talents voluntarily to a collective service, on the basis of insight and willingness to sacrifice and renounce' (Moves, 19'78:I32). In the logic of authoritarian conservatism, remedial measures against this 'anarchist trend' (Ortlieb) have to come 'from above'. It is the function of authority, the state, and law to put individual 'immoderateness' in its place and to restore 'the respect for the unchangeable and different' (Meves, 1978:132). 2. The natural-romantic eco-conservatism shares with the 'old' conservatism of the nineteenth century a distrust of technological progress and industrial-capitalist growth (Eppler,1975:29, Fetscher, 1976:29). This 'value conservatism' (Werz'konservarismus) tries to 'preserve our natural basis of life' against the inroads of the 'industrial system' (Eppler). Alternatively, value conservatives argue f-or a Hindamental change of the existing socioeconomic and political structures to allow for greater

'quality of life' and individual self-fulfilment. 3. Along with the economic crisis and structural economic change a 'working-class conservatism' (Gorz, 1983:56-8) has developed within trade unions and social democracy. It defends the socioeconomic gains and political rights of workers against authoritarian and ecologist attacks as well as against the exacting

einancipatory demands of new technologies and life styles. At present, these working-class conservatives are, according to Habermas (1985: 152-3) 'the real conservatives who try to

stabilize achievements', the new protectors of the status quo. The aim of working-class conservatism is a new balance between the development of the welfare state and the demands of economic-

technological modernization on the basis of existing socioeconomic and political structures.


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4. Neoeonservatfsnt offers new solutions to both the economic and the cultural crisis of capitalist democracies. In economic policy, it promotes a free market-led acceleration of industrial capitalist growth towards its new utopia 'information society'. However, neoconservatives no longer try to repress the potentials of individual emancipation set free by technological progress, as authoritarian conservatives would do. Instead, they want to constrict and neutralize these potentials within the established social and political institutions (family, nation and so on), thus making productive use of them. This interpretation of West German neoconservatism is distinct from the definitions of Saage (1983) and Dubiel (1985). Saage exaggerates the relevance of political repression in neoconservative ideology by arguing 'that the neoconservative institutionalism aims at pre-liberal and predemocratic patterns of stability' (Saage, 1983:243). Dubiel recognizes the 'modern' character of neoconservatism


overrates its modernness by stating that in neoconservative ideology 'the bourgeois modernity itself has become conservative' (Dubiel, 1985:l3). Both miss the specifics of neoconservatisrn, which is a 'half-hearted acceptance of modernity' (Habermas, 1983:80). It is this compromise between industrial-capitalist modernization

and cultural restoration that constitutes


ideological novelty of West German neoconservatism. The Anatomy of West German Neoconservatism

The neoconservatism of the 1980s represents the last and most portentous transformation of German conservatism. Confronted with the failure of the social-liberal policies of interventionist crisis regulation (Grande, 1988) and the green-alternative criticism of

economic growth, a variety of conservative ideology has emerged that is significantly distinct from its historical predecessors as well as from its contemporary rivals (Ltibbe, 1982). The anatomy of West German neoconservative ideology can be seen to have three main elements. To be sure, this does not cover the whole range of the neoconservative discourse, but it points out its backbone and central organs.

The NeoconservoNve Modernization of the Economy Neoconservatives no longer resist progress, just the opposite, they have set out to get it going again. Confronted with green-alternative critics of growth, the neoconservatives transformed from the party of perseverance to the party of(technicaI) progress. They reply emphatically to critics of growth: 'Growth - what else!' (Herrmann, 1984). To

Contemporary German Conservatism


restore industrial»capitalist growth, German conservatism underwent

a remarkable change of thinking with respect to its ideological traditions. Neoconservatism stands up for a fundamental redefinition of state functions against both the social democratic policy and the statist concepts of the old conservatism (Knoll, 1974). Its aim is no longer a 'total state' (Forsthoff) dominating and even absorbing civil society, but by reviving the liberal tradition of post-war economic policy the reconstruction of a liberal 'minimal state' that gives way to the private (economic) initiatives of citizens. In its notion, the state 'is the cause of failures, thus the object of therapy and not its subject, part of the problem and not its solution' (Fels, 1983:36). This does not imply any pleading for a 'weak' state. The neoconservative concept entirely requires a 'strong' state not only to maintain the economic and social order, but, even more importantly, to remove the social democratic welfare state. The neoconservative economic policies aim at a strengthening of the market forces by the state's retreat from the economy. The neoconservatives want to promote 'the coming boom' (Kahn) by drastic cuts in business taxation, welfare expenditure, and by the removal of regulations restraining employment. This implies a substantial change of the relationship between the state and the economy as it has emerged in post-war West Germany. However, the neoconservative attempts 'to reduce the state to its original and genuine functions' (Kohl, 1982) might run into two difficulties: first, who is going to execute the functions that the welfare state should no longer provide but which cannot be met by the capitalist market? Secondly, how can this 'willingness to sacrifice and renounce' be revived which is crucial for the success of neoconservative economic modernization, but which has been destroyed by the welfare state? West German neoconservatives have found specific answers to both problems.

The Neoconservative Modernization of Society The success of economic modernization depends on simultaneous

social reforms. The family functions as the heart of a neoconservative modernization of society: 'The fate of the family is decisive for the future of our society' (Bltim, 1986:47). The reason is obvious: 'In the family individuals learn those virtues and modes ofbehaviour that give our society a human face: love and confidence, tolerance and respect, willingness to make sacrifices and joint responsibility' (Kohl,

1982:7226C). By appealing to these basic functions of family, Neoconservatives take up a main element of any conservative ideology but they modify it in some important aspects.


While authoritarian conservatives still assume 'that males and females are not equal, neither according to biblical ideas, nor in the


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light of recent sexual psychology' (Meves, 1985:136), neoconservatives strive for a 'new partnership between men and women', in which the 'discrimination of women practised daily in a society dominated by men' (GeiBler, l986a:9) would be abolished. This neoconservative modernization of the family is guided by two considerations. Neoconservatives recognize that under changing economic-technological and sociocultural conditions the family can only perform its old

functions in new forms (see, for example, Drescher et al., 1986:64). More than that, this neoconservative willingness to reform might be of economic use, because 'the challenges confronting a modern and human industrial nation can hardly be mastered without the expertise and the creativity of women' (Geifiler, 1986b:8). In the neoconservative concept, not only the distribution of roles within the family will have to change, but also its social context. The family is seen as the basic unit of small, local communities in which citizens exercise self-help and charity. Those functions formerly provided by relatives should now be executed within neighbourhoods, by free associations, private initiatives, and self-help groups. They should replace the 'anonymous, bureaucratic welfare state' (Kohl, 1982) thereby relieving the public budgets: 'They help to cure the structural causes of the welfare State's fiscal crisis' (Bltim, 1983:4l). Furthermore, 'the voluntary social initiatives of citizens' (Kohl, l982), enforced by the dismantling of the welfare state, have an important side~effect. These initiatives should fill the 'expanding areas of private disposal' in such a way that they do not exceed the 'limits of individual and institutional capacities of handling innovation' (Liibbe, 1986256-7).

Thus, unlike authoritarian conservatives, in the neoconservative concept the transformation of values in capitalist societies need not be

repressed, but can be accepted as an irrevocable fact. The individual aspirations for participation and seltirealization set free by the ongoing 'silent revolution' (Inglehart) should be channelled in such a way that they do not destabilize the bourgeois capitalist society.

Within the increasing areas of private disposal, a new public spirit, a 'new solidarity' should be created (Ltibbe, 1986:56): 'Family, neighbourhood, free associations, initiatives, self-help groups and social services can produce more public spirit and public responsibility than big and anonymous organizations ever would be able to' (Kohl, 1982:7225D, Blum, 1983241)_ The Neoconservative Production of Collective Identity The neoconservative modernization of economy and society is

confronted with a serious problem: 'How to make clear to the unemployed that he has to manage with less money, how to convince

Contemporary German Conservatism


pensioners of larger sacrifices, how to make new sacrifices plausible to workers, if you do not show at the same time, why they should take all this upon themselves' (Herrmann, 1983:15). Such a production of universal meaning and collective identity (Sfnnstfftung), the exercise of sacrifices and subordination, has traditionally been accomplished by religion. Religion, however, since the 'fall of god and his saints' (Stiirmer, $986:204), has increasingly ceased to perform this function effectively, and the family, local solidarity and the futuristic utopias of an 'information society' (Spath, 1985) are overstrained with compensating for this loss. The neoconservative discourse assigns this function now mainly to history and national consciousness. 'History promises signposts towards identity, anchorages in the cataracts of progress' (Sttirmer, 1986:2(}). Especially in the Federal Republic of Germany such a 'new consciousness for German history' (Kohl, 1982:7227B) is faced with serious problems. German history is discredited by the atrocities of National Socialism; the gas chambers of Auschwitz make a simple continuation of national traditions impossible. As a consequence, the reinterpretation and reconstruction of recent German history is one of the main subjects of the neoconservative discourse. The attempts to fill up the 'crater of lacking history' (Rohrmoser, 198526) have led in two (complementary) directions. On the one hand, the aim is 'to rehabilitate those values, experiences, and virtues . . . which have been the strength of our national heritage before Hitler, in spite of and against Hitler, and after Hitler' (Herrmann, 1983:26)- According to this interpretation, it is not the dubious quality of this 'national heritage', but the demoralizing criticism of intellectuals

after the Second World War that is to blame for the 'loss of our history' (Stiirmer, 1986). On the other hand, neoconservatives make efforts to neutralize morally those parts of German history which have dis-

credited the development of national identity up to now. The recent endeavour, in particular, to reinterpret the Fascist period, to take away the scent of historical uniqueness from its crimes, has to be seen in this light (for example, Hillgruber, 1986, Nolte 1986; for critical comment see especially I-Iabermas, 1986). The neoconservative revision of history, which some prominent academic historians (Stiirmer, Nolte, Hillgruber, Hildebrand) are presently working on, ought to provide the moral and spiritual basis necessary for a 'renewal of the Social Market Economy' (Kohl, 1982). In the logic of neoconservative ideology, economic exchange will function smoothly again only if the 'spiritual places of exchange' (Stiirmer, 1986:276) can he redefined.

In sum, the modernization of the economy by strengthening market forces, the reorganization of society in the context ofa 'new solidarity',


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and the stimulation of collective identification by a new patriotism and a revision of national history - these are the keystones of neoconservative ideology in West Germany in the 1980s. The Politics of West German Neoconservatismz External Restrictions and Internal Contradictions The conservative-liberal

coalition (CDU/CSU/PDP), which took

power in autumn 1982, has been aiming at a fundamental 'change of policy' (Wende) in its programme. Its purpose has been a reorientation of economic and social policy and, moreover, a fundamental change of the spirit and the moral principles of West German society (gefs2'ig-

morahsche Wends). After thirteen years of social-liberal government, the new coalition believed that they were at the beginning of a new era

of West German politics: 'In these days we are by no means concerned

only with correcting exaggerations . . . The point is to build something basically new. At stake is the entrance into a new era' (Genscher, 1985:10, see also Rohrmoser, 1985:34-40). The conservative-liberal government has taken up central elements of the neoconservative ideology in its programme, especially in the field of economic and social policy- In general, state intervention into the economy should be .reduced, the Social Market Economy should be strengthened, and a 'renaissance of entrepreneurship' (Genscher, 1985) should be initiated. In detail, the conservative-liberal coalition has planned to strengthen business profits (mainly by tax relief), the consolidation of public budgets, the reorganization of the welfare state by concentrating public social expenditure on 'the truly needy', and the removal of

'excessive regulations' to increase the dynamics and flexibility of the capitalist market economy (for a summary see Kohl, 1982). With this programme, German conservatism in its neoconservative

form seemed to become significant, not only ideologically but also politi cally for the first time since the Second World War. The 'new era' promised to be a neoconservative one. However, the policies of the conservative-liberal government in the last years have made clear that neo conservatism has failed to become politically dominant in West

Germany at least up to now. This is not the proper place to give a full account of conservative-liberal policy. The impact of neoconservative ideology on the conservative-liberal government's economic and social policies has been analysed in more detail in Grande (1987). A brief summary of some of its main subjects might be sufficient to demonstrate its basic dilemmas.

1. In economic policy, the government has presented a picture of confusion with respect to its own standards of a free-market

Contemporary German Conservatism


oriented Ordnungspolitfk. In spite of its neoliberal programme, it has abandoned the interventionist

policies of its social-liberal

predecessors only in a few cases (for example by reformulating the Employment Promotion Act). Subsidies have been increased (instead of being reduced), the modest plans for privatization have been postponed, the first tax reform was dominated by the principle of fiscal neutrality. 2. In family policy the inconsistencies of conservative- liberal social policy have become obvious. On the one hand, new spending programmes for families (educational grant), for unmarried women with children (foundation trust 'mother andchild'), as well as tax relief for families were enacted. On the other hand, cuts in various other social programmes and fiscal austerity in general have reduced the net effect for families to DM 4.5 bn in the six years from 1983 to 1988 (Flieshardt and Steffen, 1986:27). 3. Patriotism is clearly making a come-back in West Germany. The political debates in recent years (for example, about Chancellor Kohl's Bitburg meeting with President Reagan of the USA), as well as the Federal Government's plans to establish two museums on German history in Bonn and Berlin, have shown that the conservative-liberal coalition is willing to exploit the new resources of collective identity At the same time, however, the political formation of a new national identity has been obstructed from two sides within the government: on the one side by claims of 'old' nationalists for a reorientation of Ostpolitik (mainly in the organizations of the refugees), and, on the other side, by those promoting a closer European integration and a continuation of the social~liberal coalition's moderate foreign policy.

In sum, the neoconservative project in the Federal Republic of Germany has only been partially realized. Such a conclusion has been

supported by both Left (for example, Esser and Hirsch, 1984, Vath, 1984) and Right (Rohrmoser, 1985) critics of the conservative-liberal government The reasons for this 'debacle' (Rohrmoser, 1985) can be found in three factors: (a) the political weakness of West German neoconservatism, (b) the organizational and institutional restrictions on neoconservative hegemony, and (c) the internal contradictions of the neoconservative project. The Political Weakness of West German Neoconservaiisrn The political representation of West German ncoconservatism is highly amorphous. Unlike its American prototype, the West German

neoconservatives lack an intellectual platform of their own, nor are they unified within a single political party or political movement.


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

Neoconservatism came into existence as a political process without a subject, as I itieaI compromise between the various bourgeois parties. However, this political compromise is extremely fragile. The common ground of the conservative-liberal government, apart from some tactical considerations in the background of coalition building, has been defined as having an essentially negative common denominator. The bourgeois parties have been brought together by their common resistance to social democratic interventionism on the one

hand and green-alternative critics of economic growth and technological progress on the other. This negative integration does not imply that neoconservatism should be generally accepted as a positive programme of conservative~liberal policy. Moreover, the conservative-liberal coalition has shown an extreme ideological heterogeneity representing more than only neoconservative positions. In sociopolitics (civil rights, privacy of personal data, abortion, right of asylum, etc.) it has had to integrate liberals as well as

authoritarian conservatives, in economic policy the coalition has included neoliberals, traditional conservatives, social reformers and

neotechnocrats, which differ significantly with respect to the levels of state intervention in the economy. This ideological fragmentation has been intensified by the fact that the three coalition parties (CDU, CSU, FDP)represent different social groups and interests. These different constellations of social interests are the basis of diverging 'political arithmetics'. As a consequence, political compromises have often been hard to bring about in the coalition. Whereas the PDP, without the need to take working-class voters into consideration, has vigorously called for a neoconservative economic and social policy, the CDU and CSU have only partly supported these demands with regard to their own electorate. At the same time, the Christian Democratic parties have been frustrated by the liberal resistance to their efforts to restrict

civil rights (right to demonstrate, tight of asylum, etc.).7 Tnstiturz'ortal Restrictions c:j"Neocon5ervative Hegemony Institutional restrictions peculiar to the party system and the governmental structure of West Germany have stabilized this ideological fragmentation, thus preventing neoconservatism from gaining political dominance. The horizontal structure of the dominant party in government, the

CDU, is highly complex and heterogeneous. The party is subdivided into ten auxiliary organizations (Vereinigungen), which represent specific social, ethical, and economic interests and viewpoints (see HOfling, 1980a; 1980b, Pridharn, 19771291-302). This party structure

has had two negative consequences for neoconservative hegemony: first, the relative autonomy of the auxiliary organizations has

Contemporary German Conservatism


contributed to the reinforcement of the party's ideological fragmentation, and secondly, these organizations have provided an important power basis for the exponents of the various ideological positions within the conservative-liberal government. Additionally, the organizational structure of the Federal Government has complicated the ideological unification of conservativeliberal politics. Since the ministers have full autonomy to run their offices without interference from the Chancellor (Ressortprinzip), although according to the Cllancellor's general policy guidelines, the individual ministers can pursue diverging and sometimes even contradictory policies. The Federal Chancellor's political power to rule out these discrepancies authoritatively, for example by transferring or

removing a minister, have been weakened by the detailed and complex negotiations in the process of coalition building. As a consequence, the explosive mixture of conflicting ideological concepts has blocked neoconservative hegemony within government. . Finally, the comparatively decentralized and fragmented structure of the West German state has been an obstacle to the ideological unification of conservative-liberal policy- Within the federal structure of the West German state, the ideological fragmentation of the conservative-liberal bloc has been strengthened and stabilized, and, .. . . ..

.. . . ... . .

similarly to the auxiliary organizations within the CDU, the federal

states have provided a strong power basis, especially for the ministerpresidents of the CDU (L andesfiirsten), to exercise influence on the Federal Government's policy. The Internal Contradictions of Neoconservative Policies The ideological fragmentation of the conservative-liberal coalition and the external, institutional restrictions stabilizing this fragmentation have been a decisive obstacle for the success of the neoconservative project. However, this ideological heterogeneity has been intensified and stimulated by internal contradictions within this neoconservative

project. By promoting a partial modernization of capitalist democracies, neoconservatism has necessarily produced conservative opponents in its own ranks. Internal contradictions of neoconservative

policies have become obvious at least in three areas. I . The neoconservative combination of industrial-capitalist modernization and cultural restoration is based on shaky ground. Neoconservatives cannot guarantee that the dynamics of capitalist production might not undermine these new forms of community and solidarity too, which are indispensable to stabilise the neoconservative project. They provide no answer to the question,

why these new forms of community should be more resistant to


The Transformation

of Contemporary


capitalist challenges than the old ones have been. Hence, the neoconservative utopia of the 'information society', promoted by the systematic expansion of telecommunications, may not inevitably lead to small social networks and extended individual liberty, it might as well result in new hierarchies, an extension of technical imperatives into private life, more control and anonymity. 2. The family, the centrepiece of the neoconservative project, is .threatened additionally from within by a neoconservative modernization of society. The neoconservatives are at a loss for an answer to the problem, whether the individual potentials of

emancipation channelled into families and neighbourhoods would not continue with their destructive work there. The consequences would be fatal not only for the neoconservative plans, but also for any future conservative project because it would lose a main element of its basis. This explains the fierce attacks of authoritarian conservatives against the 'egalitarian ideology' and the 'tendencies hostile to families' (Moves, 1985:l35-6) within the conservative-liberal government. 3. The neoconservative efforts to stimulate collective identity by means of history and national consciousness run a similar risk. They can refer to a growing public interest in history, but such an interest may not necessarily lead to the desirable revival of national history. The public interest in history might as well be absorbed by those spreading initiatives (Zang, 1985) reconstructing local history ('history from the grassroots') thus producing

'false' ideology.



Conservatism has gained considerable importance in West Germany since the 19505 and it has transformed its ideological appearance significantly. The dynamics of economic-technological, political, and sociocultural modernization have provoked new strategies of conservative resistance, and the growing complexity of this modernization process has increased the variety of conservative ideologies, plicating their political classification. r


The most important expression of conservatism in the 19805 has been the neoconservative attempt to combine economiotechnological modernization and cultural restoration. The ideological relevance of neoconservatism has been manifested in the declarations of policy of the conservative-liberal government in 1982 and 1983. However, its impact on the coalition's policies has been weak. The political influence of the neoconservative project has been restricted not only by

Contemporary German Conservatism 73

the political weakness of West German neoeonservatism and by various institutional restrictions in the West German party system and

state structure, but also by interal contradictions of neoconservative policy that have produced conservative resistance within its own ranks. This conclusion is not to deny any long-term effects of neoconservative ideology and policy in West Germany. However, such an assessment would have to take into consideration what neoconser~ vatives have not done as well as what they have done. Analogous to the 'restorative character' of the CDU state of the 1950s, the very signifi canoe of West German neoconservatisrn might not have been the perfect realization of its programme but the 'sin of omission' (Dirks, 1950). Its hidden success might be a 'second restoration' by blocking those developments that promise to advance the 'project of modernity' as a whole.


The research for this article was made possible by the Stiftung Volkswagenwerk. It is part of a larger research project on neoconservative policies directed by Gerhard Lehmbruch at the University of Constance. Furthermore, the author has benefited from various discussions with Wolfgang Fach and Jiirgen Héiusler. Notes I. The dangers of such an approach became obvious in a recent article by Greiffenhagen (1986:909) where he concludes: 'German conservatism is resigned to its fate and it has been coming to an end objectively. Whether the word "conservative" will

be used further or not: there can be no doubt that its political potential has been absorbed by liberalism.' The possibility, however, that parts of liberal ideology in a specific historical constellation might have lost their progressive power and have become conservative themselves is neglected by Greiffenhagen. 2. This definition shares some of the basic assumptions of Greening (l9T1:30) and Fetscher (1967: 13). However, it covers economic-technological as well as sociocultural aspects and does not confine the analysis to the process of (political) democratization. This does not imply that conservative reaction in its historical-concrete appearance must necessarily oppose all these aspects of social modernization. Moreover, this definition is neutral with respect to social classes and thus offers the opportunity to analyse even particular trade union policies ('working-elass conservatism') in the light of conservative ideology (see Greven, 1980). 3. This is indicated not least by the remarkable similarities in the diagnosis of sociopolitical crises between socialist and conservative criticisms of social democratic

policies - disregarding all the divergences in explaining and solving these problems (Offs, 1979).

74 The Transformarfon

of Contemporary


4. 'The name of the Federal Chancellor is our progl-amme', declared Franz Meyers,

then Minister~President of North Rhine-Westphalia, at the CDU's national congress in 1958 (CDU, 1958:243). 5. A recent declaration of policy of the Bavarian Minister-President Strauli can be taken as an example; Forty years after the end of war a new consensus about the nation has to be brought about. We have to get a clear picture of the German nation again. We have to build a German national consciousness, reformed by history and oriented towards Europe. The recovery of historical consciousness is part of this. Our young generation has to be made aware of German history entirely and undisguised not only from the perspective of failure but just in its greatness and with its bright sides. (StrauB , 1986:22]

6. This means neither to neglect obvious differences between the policies of the social-liberal government and its conservative-liberal successor, nor does it underestimate the serious social consequences of fiscal austerity initiated by the SPD/PDP ...-and continued by the CDU/CSU/FDP - coalition (see, for example, Ronstein, 1985). However, both aspects do not capture the specifics of neoconservative policy. 7. As a result of all these problems of political compromise the basic decisions concerning policies have been taken away from government. The most important decision-making bodies of the conservative-liberal coalition are neither the parliamentary parties nor the cabinet, but the informal meetings of the three leaders of the coalition parties (Kohl, StrauI3, Bangemann).

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Dresser, A., J. Essen and W. Fach (1986) Dfepolftische O}'conom1'e der Liebe. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. Dubiel, H. (1985) Was is! Neokon servatfsmus? Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. Elm, L. (1974) Der ' n e e ' Konservarismus. Zur Ideofogfe und Poffrfk winer reakrionéiren Srrémung in der BRD. Frankfurt a.M.: Verlag Marxistische Bléitter. Rippler, E. (1975) Ends oder Wendy. Von der Machbarkeif des Notwendfgen. Stuttgart: Kohlharnmer. Essa, J. and J. Hirsch (1984) 'Der CDU-Staat: Ein politisches Reguherungsmodell fijr

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21-31 in Sozfnlliberalfsmus oder reckoner Popufismus. Argument-Sonderband AS 51. Berlin: Argument-Verlag. Gurland, A.R.L. (1980) Die CDU/CSU. Ursprunge und Entwicklung bis 1953. Frankfurlt a.M.: EVA. Habermas, J. (1983) 'Neoconservative Culture Criticism in the United States and West

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76 The Transformation

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was denn sons?', Die politiscke Mei rung, 212: Herrmann, L. (1984) 'Wachstum 27-39. Hillgruber, A. (1986) Zweierlei Un zergang, Die Zerschfagung des Deu15chen Reaches und das Ends des europcizischen Judenzums. Berlin: Siedler. Héfling, W. (19803) 'Funktionsprobleme des Vereinigungssystems der CDU', pp. 15373 in H. Kaack and R. Roth (eds), Handbuch des deutsche/1 Parrefensyslems, Vol. I: Partefsrrukfuren undLegfnlmar:'on des Parteiensysfems. Opladcn: Leske and Buderich.

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Saage, R. (1983) 'Neokonservatives Der ken in der Bundesrepublik`, pp. 228-82 in R. Saage, Rfickkehr zum starke Sfauf? Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. Schelsky, H. (1965) 'Der Mensch in der wissenschaftlichen Zivilisation',pp. 439-80 in H. Schelsky, Auf der Suche nach Wirklichkeit. Kiln and Diisseldorfz Eugen Diederichs (first published 1961). Schmidt, M.G. (1985) 'Allerweltsparteien in Westeuropa? Ein Beitrag zu Kirchheimers These vom Wander des westeuropéiischen Parteiensystems', Leviathan, 13(4): 376-97.

Schmidt, U. (1983) 'Die Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands', pp. 490-660 in R. Stijss (ed.), Pa rteien-Handbu ch. Die Paneien der Bun de5repubhlk Deutschland 194580, Volume I. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. Schoeps, HJ, (1958) Konservative Erneuerung. Stuttgart: Klett. Schénbohm, W. (1985)Die CDU wind moder re Volk sparfei. Selbslverstdndnis, Mitglfeder, Organization and Apparar 1950-80. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. Schrenck-Notzing, C.V. (1977) 'Das Unbehagen der Konservativen an der CDU', pp.

60-73 in G.-K. Kaltenbrunncr (ed.), Das Elend der Chrisldemokraren. Freiburg; Herder. Schuster, H. (1959) 'Kortservatismus in unsurer Zeit`, Merkur, 13(1): 69-84. Sieferle, R,P. (I984) Fortschritzsfeindc? Opposition regen Technion und Industrie von Der Romantik bis zur Gegenwarz. Miinchcnt CH. Beck. Spéith, L. (1985) Wends in die Zukunft. Die Bundesrepubifk auf dem Weg in die Informationsgesellschaft. Reinbek be Hamburg: Rowohlt. Strau13, FJ. (1986) 'Bayern Europas modcrnster Staat. Regierungserkliirung des Ministerpréisidenten am 10. Dezember 1986 vor dem Bayerischen Landtag', Bay errzkurfer, 20 December 1986: 17-22. Stiirmer, M. (1986) Dissonanzen des Forrschritrs. Essays fiber Geschichte und Poifrik in Deutschland. MUncher and ZUrich; Piper. _ Tenbruck, F.H. (1974) 'Alltagsnormen und Lcbensgefiihle in der Bundesrepublik', pp. 289-310 in R. Léwcnthal and I-I.~P. Schwarz (eds), Die zweite Republik. 25 .Iahre Bundefrepublik Deutschland. Stuttgart: Seewald. . Véth, W. (1984) 'Konservative Modernisierungspolitik - in Widerspruch in sick? Zur Neuausrichtung der Forschungs- und Technologiepolitik der Bundesregierung',


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5 Conservatism in the Netherlands: Fragments and Fringe Groups Pau! Lucardfe

'Conservatism' is a taboo word in Dutch politics. A taboo, however, which hides an unaccepted yet important real phenomenon. Around 1848 conservatives and liberals confronted each other in the Netherlands like everywhere else in Europe. But unlike their counterparts in Britain, France or Germany the Dutch conservatives lacked a feudal past and an agrarian base. Their quasi-aristocratic leaders were usually of urban mercantile stock. This may help to explain why their attempts to found a fully-fledged conservative party failed (Von der Dunk, 1982). Another factor was the religious segmentation or verzuilfng (polarization) of Dutch society, which began to affect the party system in the late nineteenth century. Calvinists and Catholics set up their own schools, universities, trade unions, farmers unions, cultural and welfare organizations as well as political parties. In fact, the Calvinist Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP), founded in 1879 bythe

theologian Abraham Kuyper, was the first modern mass party Netherlands. The Catholic party developed later from a federation of local electoral associations. These parties attracted (potential) supporters of the conservatives and adopted

in the loose many


conservative ideas, though they never accepted the label 'conservative'.

The Anti-Revolutionary Party derived its name from the French Revolution of 1789 which it continued to fight, like conservatives in Germany and royalists in France (Daalder, 1966). Secular conservatives who did not feel at home in either a Calvinist or a Catholic party tended to join the Liberal Party, founded in 1885, Within this party conservative liberals often clashed with progressive liberals, which led to party splits on several occasions. Since 1900 the liberals have been united only for about twenty years. The Calvinist camp did not remain united either. In 1908 moderate Calvinists who rejected Kuyper's personal leadership and populist policies founded the Christian Historical Union (CHU).

Only the Catholic bloc maintained its unity, albeit with great difficulty at times and with help from the clergy. Hence conservatism

Conservatism in the Netherlands


disappeared from Dutch politics only in name, it remained an ideological undercurrent in Liberal, Calvinist and Catholic parties. This thesis be investigated here through a survey of these parties' programmes and policies in recent years. It is necessary, first, to trace the evolution of the Dutch party system. The Dutch Party System Until the late 1960s the Dutch political system appeared to be the showpiece of consociationalism and polarization. The religious or confessional parties ARP, CHU and Catholic People's Party (KVP) controlled a narrow majority of seats in parliament since the introduction of universal suffrage in 1918. In the 1920s they governed together, in the 19305 their coalition included two Liberal parties, in the 1940s and 1950s Social Democrats were preferred, in 1959 they switched to the Liberals again. Policy decisions were often based on a compromise between party leaders, of both government and opposition parties (Daalder, 1966; Lijphart, 1968). In the late 1960s and early 19705 the pillars began to crumble, owing to secularization, increased mobility, modern mass media and modernization of church doctrines. The three confessional parties lost

their majority in parliament, as well as their connections with some of the social and cultural organizations that used to belong to their pillars. The leaders of the three parties reacted to this process by intensifying their co-operation. In 1976 ARP, CHU and KVP federated, in 1980 they merged into the ChriStian Democratic Appeal (CDA). At the 1977 parliamentary elections the alliance had already proved successful: the decline of the Christian vote was halted. About one-third of the Dutch electorate continues to vote for the CDA in the 19805. Maintaining a middle-of-the-road position on most issues, the

CDA still plays a pivotal role in Dutch politics. From 1977 to 1981 it governed with the Liberal Volkspartij veer Vrijheid en Democratie (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, VVD), in 1981 it tried a coalition with Democrats '66 (D'66) and the social democratic Dutch Labour Party, but in 1982 it renewed its co~operation with the Liberal VVD. Since 1977 the Dutch Prime Minister has always been a Christian Democrat. The VVD was founded in 1948 by two liberal groups. In the 1950s

and I960s it remained a fairly small party, but in the 19705 and early 1980s it attracted many new voters and members - mainly through a more popular style and presentation. Since 1966 it had to compete with a left-wing liberal party, Democrats '66. As the CDA becomes more

secular, it begins to compete also with the VVD for voters on the Right. Yet VVD and CDA need each other in coalition governments. A


The Transformation

of Contemporary


'lib-lab' coalition between VVD and PvdA (Partial van de Arbeid; Dutch Labour Party) has been discussed but never attempted in the Netherlands. The PvdA is the largest Dutch party on the Left. It is equal in size to the CDA. Under the influence of a New Left group within the party it moved somewhat to the Left in the late 1960s and 1970s. Thus it may have prevented radical leftist parties from growing, in 1972 three radical parties won l l per cent of the popular vote, in 1986 only 3 per cent. Small parties benefit from the Dutch system of pure proportional

representation without an electoral threshold - except the number of votes required to win one seat in the Second Chamber (lower house) of parliament, that is 0.67 per cent of all valid votes. Following the 1986

elections nine parties are represented in the Second Chamber: the already mentioned CDA, D'66, PvdA and VVD hold 142 out of 150 seats, the remaining eight seats are divided among five small parties. Three of them belong to the Right and will be described below.

The radical left-wing parties need not be dealt with here, as they cannot be considered conservative in any meaningful sense. Though they call into question the pursuit of unlimited economic growth and material progress, they continue to fight for progressive change more liberty, equality and fraternity on earth. With some qualification the same could be said about the Dutch


Labour Party and Democrats'66. Whilst the radical left-wing parties want to expand and reform the welfare state and to change the socioeconomic system, the PvdA and D'66 want to preserve both, except for minor details, at least in the short run. Their immediate object is to prevent the right-wing government from breaking down the welfare state and returning the mixed economy into a laissez-faire

economy. Thus one might consider on the one hand D'66 and the PvdA conservative in a narrow, literal sense

as their right-wing

critics often do, yet, on the other hand, both adhere to long-term progressive goals such as freedom, equal distribution of wealth and power, solidarity. Moreover, their supporters tend to score low on typical conservative values and attitudes in surveys, they express more

dissatisfaction with Dutch society than supporters of CDA or VVD (Felling and Peters, 1984, Middendorp, 1978, 1979). Hence it seems justified to concentrate a study of Dutch conservatism on the Christian Democratic Appeal and the Liberal Party VVD. As the term remains taboo in the Netherlands, both deny being

conservative, of course. To some extent they are right, as they have both incorporated progressive ideas, too. The only pure conservative parties in the Netherlands are the small fundamentalist Protestant parties and some ephemeral groups at the fringe of the party system. These will be discussed in the last two sections of this chapter.

DS '70


l m c)



m c :


I l

N v-4


I c> I-fl



Source: Compendium door politick en samerleving in Nederland (1986).


0 indicates that the party contested the election but did not win any seats.

0 150





3 2





Total seats

II 10 8










58 39



Radical leftist parties

76 43



Democrats '66

Liberal: VVD

77 50 13

- 1








(since 1977: CDA)






Labour: PvdA





I 05 I I


Christian Democratic parties

(Second Chamber - 1948-86) 1959 1963 1967 1971








OS [


0g I 0 0 I E I




z z








E 0



oo In













8 0

9z LI











LE 69



SZ go


zL6l LV


of seats in the Dutch parliament


Table 5.1 Distribution

Conservatism in the Netherlands


c: v-1





The Transformation

of Contemporary


The Liberal Conservatism of the VVD

In 1948 most Dutch liberals were united, for the first time this century, in one party: the VVD. Only a few left-wing liberals preferred to stay with the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA). In its first declaration of principles the VVD did not adhere to either liberalism or conservatism, it only claimed to unite 'all who believe that freedom, responsibility and social justice should be the foundation of a Dutch society based on Christian (moral) principles' (VVD, 1948:4). The party conceded that laissez-faire liberalism was outdated, but it defended the principles of free enterprise, private property and a market economy. The state should promote the free development of social organizations and protect the general interest. It had to provide the needy with basic means of subsistence, but should not deprive them of their own responsibility and freedom. The welfare state that developed in the Netherlands after 1945 encroached too much on individual freedom and responsibility. Government intervention with prices, wages and production distorted the market economy. The egalitarian income policy discouraged individual effort and responsibility. The Liberal Manifesto published by the VVD in 1981 differed little

from the declaration of 1948 in this respect. The tone had become more assertive. No wonder, the disadvantages of interventionism and welfare state bureaucracy had become more obvious, not only to members of the VVD but to a majority of the Dutch people. In 1981 58 per cent of a random sample of Dutch adults favoured a reduction of state expenditure, whereas in 1979 40 per cent and in 1967 only 22 per cent held this opinion (Sociaal en Cultured Rapport, 1984:289). In the words of the Liberal Manifesto, 'The individual meets the state too much' As the state was too big, too expensive, too centralized

and too active, it should be decentralized and 'individualized', reduced in size and in complexity. More specifically, the government should reduce and simplify the network of laws and regulations passed in recent years (deregulation), public enterprises should be sold to private capital if possible (privatization), instead of subsidizing all sorts of social and cultural activities the state should allow private initiatives in this area more room by reducing taxes and/or charging individuals who benefit from subsidized activities (benefit principle) (VVD, 1981). The Manifesto did not spell out an economic policy, naturally more a topic for election platforms. The economic crisis of the 1980s produced some disagreement among economists and other intellectuals within the VVD. A minority called for Keynesian policies of government intervention and invest-

ment, even at the risk of increasing the deficit (VVD, 1985). The majority preferred a monetarist or supply-side approach of tax

Conservatism in the Netherlands 83

reduction, big spending cuts, and more room for private enterprise and profits, in other words: Friedman, Von Hayek and Latter rather than Keynes (Groenveld and Kinneging, 1985). Capitalism ought to be conserved, so the state should adopt more liberal economic policies. Henceforth one could classify the economic ideas of the VVD as conservative-liberal or liberal-conservative, in 1981 as well as in 1948. In the social and cultural sphere, however, the party seemed more progressive in 1981 than in 1948. The Liberal Manifesto advocates the emancipation ofwornen and cultural (immigrant) minorities, workers' participation in decision making on the shop-floor, and free abortion. These progressive liberal elements were balanced to some extent by conservative qualifications- Egalitarian redistribution of power was rejected, on the shop-floor as elsewhere. Workers were to participate but also to respect the authority ofrnanagement. Responsible leadership is required. In fact, the balance of power between capital and labour should be maintained or even restored: according to some VVD leaders Labour had acquired too much power during the 1970s (Rietkerk, 1978; Zoutendijk, 1978). Capital and labour should cooperate like 'social partners? the term 'classes' which was still used by the VVD in 1948 had disappeared by 1981. The former Minister of the Interior, Rietkerk, expressed the ideal of his party in an eloquent statement: 'Workers, self~ernployed businessmen, managers, academics, shareholders, nurses and policemen all contribute to society as equal partners and acquire - as much as possible - rights and chances that fit their functions' (1978:38). Thus individual rights and opportunities need not be equal.. Rietkerk departed here from the liberal tradition of equal chances and seemed to favour a conservative conception of a functional hierarchy in society. As a consequence, education need not provide equal opportunity either, smart children should attend schools of a higher

intellectual level than less intelligent children. Not all VVD leaders have drawn this conclusion, though all reject proposals for integrated secondary education as in the British comprehensive school or the American high school -- or the Dutch middenschool introduced by a PvdA Minister of Education during the l9'70s. One VVD leader, Mrs Van Sorneren Downer, advocated 'fair opportunity' rather than 'equal opportunity' in education (1978) but the electoral platform of the VVD in 1986 still mentions 'equal opportunity'Mrs Van Sorneren Downer also took a cense rvative position on

another controversial issue: abortion. Though VVD platforms and manifestos insist on the woman's right to decide on abortion by herself, a group of VVD senators led by Mrs Van Someren Downer

voted with the Christian parties against a bill that would give women this right, so the bill was rejected (Roethof, 1982).

84 The Transformation

of Contemporary


On other issues, however, the VVD sided unambiguously


the progressive liberal forces: legalization of pornography, nondiscrimination of homosexuals, subsidies for modern art. Yet, in the area of deface and foreign policy, the party seems to lean again more towards conservative ideas: strong national deface, support for American hegemony and anti-communism, international stability and foreign aid, rather than towards liberal ideas about disarmament, international co-operation, peaceful co-existence and neutrality (Koole, 1983). Whereas the social democratic PvdA and the leftliberal D'66 often criticized the alliance (through NATO) with dictatorships in Portugal, Greece or Turkey during the 19605 and 19705, the VVD considered the alliance more important than the democratic status of its members. While PvdA, D'66 and most Christian Democrats advocate economic sanctions against South Africa, the VVD argues for a dialogue and contacts with reformist forces in South Africa (VVD, 1981:43, VVD, 1986:53). From this survey of VVD platforms and manifestos one can conclude that the party draws inspiration from both conservative and liberal traditions, though party leaders often tend to deny the conservative aspect.1 Conservative ideas prevail in the socioeconomic sphere: free enterprise, competition and income inequalities should be maintained and preferably reinforced (the latter tendency could be

regarded as reactionary rather than conservative, but these notions tend to overlap). Progressive liberal ideas can be found more easily in the sociocultural sphere, except for education where the VVD defends rather conservative notions.

The mixture of ideas is reflected by the electorate of the party. Felling and Peters (1984:362), who distinguish between economic conservatism, cultural conservatism and 'pronounced conservatism' (economic and cultural), classify 43 per cent of VVD supporters as economic conservatives (but cultural progressives), 15 per cent as cultural conservatives (but economic progressives) and 29 per cent as 'pronounced conservatives', hence only 14 per cent held progressive cultural and economic ideas - much less than supporters of Democrats '66 (50 per cent) or of the Dutch Labour Party (53 per cent), let alone the radical Left (81 per cent). Whereas the ideology of the VVD changed very little between 1948 and 1986, its voters and members increased in numbers. In 1948 the party started with 8 per cent of the electorate and about 15,000 members, in 1986 it counted on 17 per cent of the electorate and on 90,000 members. This expansion can be attributed to a more assertive and popular leadership and better organization, but also to external

factors in Dutch culture and society like secularization and depillarization as well as rising individualism. In a polarized system the VVD

Conservatism in the Netherlands


could only attract secular voters -~ 90 per cent of its electorate in 1956 (Lijphart, 1974:244). By 1986, however, it won almost as many religious as secular voters - 49 and 51 per cent respectively, thus its electorate resembled the total electorate of which 43 per cent did not

belong to a church and 57 per cent did (Daalder and Koole, forthcoming). Its social base did not change much in terms of class, most voters seemed to be upper or middle class even in 1986, 89 per cent defined themselves this way. With increasing numbers of voters and members the VVD could increase its influence on Dutch politics. Nonetheless it remained a minority party, dependent on other parties to enter government. Having excluded the Labour Party as coalition partner, after a rather difficult attempt in 1948-52, it could only rely on the Christian Democrats for this purpose. When the latter decided to exchange the Liberals for the Labour Party, as they did in 1965, 1973 and 1981, the VVD could not stop them. However, since 1981 the Christian Democrats have become more loyal to their Liberal ally (and more hostile towards the Labour Party). Perhaps they have become closer in an ideological sense, too- The coalition ofCDA and VVD that governed from 1982 to 1986 (and was renewed after the 1986 elections) seemed more stable, but also more liberal in terms of policies than previous coalition governments. ` A few examples might illustrate this. In the first place, the government refrained from intervening in wages and prices - which is unusual in the Netherlands. It promoted the market sector of the economy, with some success. While wages remained fairly stable, profits rose. Moreover, the government tried to reduce the public sector. Public service salaries were cut, with a flat 3 per cent in 1984, and then frozen. The number of public servants did not diminish much, but their costs could be cut through a reduction of working


hours and increasing numbers of part-timers. Overall government spending decreased by about 2 per cent. Unemployment benefits and public assistance or welfare payments were cut as well, while the number of unemployed persons went up. The gap between the lowest

and the highest incomes widened, probably for the first time since the early 1960s (De Kam, 1987). Inflation went down, and so did the state's deficit. Finally, the state began to sell parts of its public enterprises -

shares of the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM), and the Government Publishing Office. Henceforth one might conclude that the government pursued a rather conservative-liberal economic policy, close to the supply-side-cum-monetarist approach favoured by the majority of the VVD (De Roos, 1986). In the second place, VVD ministers could implement conservativeliberal policies at the Department of Justice --.. spending more on police forces - and with respect to foreign aid, which was attuned


The Transformation

of Contemporary


more to national (business) interests. Furthermore, the government tried to fulfil Dutch NATO obligations and agreed in 1985, after considerable debate, to deploy cruise missiles on Dutch soil, thus realizing two VVD demands (De Lange, 1986). In the third place, VVD ministers carried out progressive liberal reforms in the sociocultural sphere: they lifted the ban on pornography, granted legitimate foreign immigrants the right to vote in municipal elections and contributed to a more individual system of social security which would not discriminate against women. Other liberal reform plans were not realized, however. The Christian Democrats managed

to postpone a bill against discrimination of homosexuals and other minorities in private institutions as well as a bill to legalize euthanasia. Some progressive liberals in the VVD, therefore, like former party leader Geertserna (1986), were disappointed with the lack of progress in the cultural and moral sphere. One might conclude that the VVD succeeded in implernentirg its conservative-liberal ideas especially in the areas of economic and financial policy, deface, justice and foreign aid, whereas it tried somewhat less successfully to realize progressive-liberal goals in the sociocultural sphere. To explain these mixed results, one has to look at its coalition partner, the CDA.

The Reformist Conservatism of the CDA

The Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) originated in 1976 as a federation and became a single party in 1980. Its first platform could be considered 'mildly progressive' (Irving, 1979:210). However, the author of this platform left the party disappointed and announced in 1986 his intention to vote for the Dutch Labour Party (NRC Handelsblad, 1986b). Many other left-wing Christian Democrats followed suit. Some founded a left-wing party, the Evangelical People's Party, which won one seat in parliament with 0.7 per cent of the popular vote in 1982 but lost it again in 1986. Christian trade union leaders often complained about the increasingly conservative policies of the CDA, but tended to remain loyal to the party (CD Actueel, 1985). A brief survey of party documents lends some support to the thesis about the increasingly conservative character of the Christian Democratic Appeal. In 'Starting Points' (Uitgangspunten), its first declaration of principles, the Christian Democrats defined their principles: justice, responsibility, solidarity and stewardship (Rentmeesrerschap). God has appointed man as His steward on earth, hence man has a right to use but not abuse nature. Men should cherish solidarity with their fellow men, across national and class boundaries .

Conservatism in the Netherlands 87 Responsibility should be divided and spread rather than concentrated. A just and responsible government will respect the autonomy or sovereignty of other institutions and spheres of life such as the family, the church, the school and the economy. Kuyper, the founder of the Anti-Revolutionary Party, had introduced the idea that all spheres of society are sovereign in their own right (soeverefniteft in Eigen krfng), hence the state should not impose its will on the other spheres. On this idea he based his criticism of the Liberal government which did impose its will on the school system. The CDA adapted Kuyper's idea to modern society - and diluted it, in the eyes of more conservative Calvinists. The CDA concept of 'differentiated responsibility' (gespreide verantwoordelykheid) may come closer to the traditional Catholic doctrine of 'subsidiarity': the state is the supreme and sovereign institution on earth, but should leave as many powers to lower institutions as possible (CDA, 1978 and 1979). This rather abstract concept of responsible government became more concrete in later CDA publications. Since 1982 the party began to advocate the replacement of the welfare state by a welfare society. The state had claimed too much responsibility in the recent past. It should withdraw from society now and confront social institutions with their own responsibility. Rather than creating jobs, regulating markets, providing welfare and education, the state should encourage private institutions to fulfil these functions. Withdrawing from society, the state could concentrate on its proper responsibility, for example, the maintenance of law and order (CDA, 1982a, 1983, l984a). At first sight, these ideas seem very similar to the conservativeliberal critique of the bureaucratic welfare state by the VVD. Yet there are important differences. In the first place, the Christian Democrats do not want to 'individualize the state'. On the contrary, they criticize the contemporary trend to individualism. Traditional intermediate institutions between the individual and the state are disintegrating but should be restored. In this context the Christian Democrats argue often for 'private initiative', but not exactly in the liberal sense of private enterprise: more with reference to private non-profit organizations in the area of welfare, health, education, leisure and social work. They also advocate more solidarity and mutual aid between neighbours and relatives (CDA, l 984a). In the second place, the CDA remains more reluctant than the VVD to reduce social security and welfare payments - in spite of a growing convergence on this issue. Its ideas about social security were published in 1982 under the telling title 'Renewal in order to preserve' (Vernieuwing on behoud) (CDA, 1982a). A more concise definition of reformist conservatism could not be given not even by Von der Dunk, who introduced this notion (1982:l83). Occasionally, this



The Transformation

of Contemporary


difference has caused tensions between the coalition partners CDA and VVD, similar to the disagreement between the CDU and FDP in the Federal Republic of Germany. Trade union interests continue to play a role within Christian Democratic ranks, even if their influence has diminished. In its election platform of 1986 the CDA insisted on more responsibility for workers in the workplace. Besides, social insurance should become more clearly the responsibility of the social partners, unions and employers' associations. More functions of the state should be taken over by schools, housing corporations, social and cultural

organizations as well as private enterprise. More public enterprises should become private. Public services and expenditures as well as taxes should be cut. Small and new entrepreneurs were to receive tax benefits or other support from the state. Some of these demands figured also in the VVD platform, but not all (CDA, 1986). Though the Christian Democrats defend society against the state as conservative liberals do - they do not spare contemporary society their criticism. Whereas VVD leaders celebrate the freedom and selfrealization of the individual, the tolerance and creativity of modern culture, Christian Democrats tend to decry its selfishness, consumerism, money-grabbing materialism, hedonism and lack of solidarity (CDA, 1984a:2l-31). Most of these critical comments have no practical consequences, inoperative statements characterize conservatives, as Nigel Harris observed (1971:127-9). But some do: thus the CDA has opposed the legalization of pornography, abortion, euthanasia, and commercial television or radio. On some issues it has moved from a traditional conservative to a moderately liberal position: homosexuals should have equal rights, even if the government should not try to enforce these rights, as well as women, unmarried couples

should not suffer discrimination, divorce is tolerated. Some of these moral questions divided rather than united Christian Democrats. Thus the liberal or left wing of the party favours a ban on discrimination against homosexuals even by private (Christian) schools (CDA, 1982b, 1984b). The women's organization of the party called for individualized social security and taxes, against the majority of the party which wanted to retain the family unit~based system (CDA, l982c). Moral principles divide the Christian Democrats also in the area of deface and foreign policy. An active minority leans towards pacifism, at least with respect to nuclear arms because these may endanger God's creation as such. The same group favours an active anti-apartheid policy, including an economic boycott of South Africa, if necessary by

the Netherlands alone, though preferably by the European Community as a whole (Koole, 1983: 183-4, 190-1, CDA, 1936: 8-18).

Conservatism in the Netherlands


Christian Democrats have enjoyed sufficient influence in Dutch politics to implement their ideas and platforms, since 1918 they have taken part in practically every coalition government of the country and until 1967 they held a majority in parliament (see Table 5.1). Through their Catholic and Calvinist pillars they also controlled society to a large extent: not only political parties, but also trade unions, broadcasting associations, newspapers, welfare societies, schools and universities, youth and women's clubs were organized on a religious base. Polarization may have slowed down secularization, but it could not stop it, since the late 1960s the pillars have started to crumble. So did the Christian Democratic hegemony in many areas. As mentioned above, Christian Democrats had to concede the legalization of pornography, divorce, abortion (to a limited extent), unmarried couples, birth control, and may possibly add even euthanasia in the near future. In this area of moral and cultural issues, the CDA often faces a majority of Liberals and Social Democrats (VVD, D'66 and PvdA). In the area ofsocioeconomic policy it usually occupies a more comfortable centre position between VVD and PvdA. Since 1982 CDA and VVD seem to differ less and less in this area, however. The CDA Minister of Finance managed to reduce the deficit from I I per cent to 7 per cent between 1982 and 1986. A CDA Minister of Social Affairs and Employment reduced unemployment benefits and public assistance payments. Further reforms and reductions of social security are being prepared - and opposed bitterly by Christian trade unions as well as Social Democrats (Van Voorden 1986, Lehning, 1984). Before 1982 Christian Democratic ministers frequently consulted trade union leaders, not only Christian trade unions, and tried to promote corporatist decision making through the Socioeconomic Council and

other institutions. Since 1982 they tend to ignore or bypass these institutions, not only in the socioeconomic sphere, but also in education, health and welfare. The government intervenes directly and forcefully or not at all. This break may usher in an era of neoconservative reformism in a direction of a liberal and capitalist society protected but not controlled by a strong but 'minimal' state (De ---.

Wolff, 1984). However, one should not underestimate the counterbalancing forces. The welfare state has struck deep roots in Dutch society and public opinion. The Christian Democrats are well aware of this. After all, they were also responsible for its construction and share vested interests in its institutions. Christian Democrats hold important

functions in universities, hospitals, welfare agencies, broadcasting associations and municipal governments, institutions which depend

on the state to a large extent. These officials will resist the further withdrawal of the state. They also defend corporatist and polarized


The Transformation

of Contemporary

structures against liberalization


and individualization


1986). Against these vested interests operate the employers, another powerful lobby within the CDA (De Volkskrant, l986a, Middel and Van Schuur, 1981). They may get support from the VVD in their pleas for 'more market, less state'. The outcome is open. The CDA is a rather complicated network of overlapping and cross-cutting lobbies, tendencies and wings. Employers argue with union leaders, leftwingers with right-wingers, Protestants with Catholics. It is perhaps the only real 'people's party' in the Netherlands, in its electorate all classes are well represented.

All religions and churches are represented as well. A majority of

CDA voters still belonged to a Christian church in 1986 (50 per cent Catholic, 30 per cent Protestant), but the shares of'other religions' and of secular or non-religious voters have increased (to 4 per cent and 16 per cent respectively) (Daalder and Koole, forthcoming). At local elections, a few Muslims and Hindus were candidates on Christian democratic lists in 1986. The modest but increasing secularization of the Christian Democratic Appeal's electorate may reflect the secularization of its ideology and policies. Thus the party might become more similar to the German Christian Democratic Union: a conservative party with reformist tendencies and a vague Christian background. Its potential electorate differs less and less from that of the conservative liberal VVD (Van der Eijk and Niemoller, 1984). Both electorates are conservative, according to Felling and Peters(l984:349). However, there are still important differences between CDA and VVD. In the terms of Felling and Peters, the former leans towards cultural conservatism (embraced by 36 per cent of its voters) and the latter towards economic conservatism (43 per cent). Economic

conservatives are as rare among CDA supporters as cultural conservatives among VVD voters (both 15 per cent). In everyday politics this difference leads to disagreement about abortion, euthanasia, corn-

mercial television, discrimination against homosexuals and education. These disagreements will probably prevent a federation or merger between the two parties in the near or even distant future, but it will not prevent their co-operation in coalition government. Though the progressive liberal wing of the VVD and the progressive reformist (or social-Christian, trade union) wing of the CDA might prefer a coalition with the Labour Party, neither wing seems strong enough to break the present coalition. This coalition can rely on a safe majority in parliament until 1990 (81 out ot" 150 seats). Furthermore, CDA and VVD agree on basic economic and foreign policies which are usually

considered more important than cultural and social questions. Both want to reduce state intervention and spending, both want to promote

Conservatism in the Netherlands


private industry and commerce, both want to fulfil NATO obligations -- even if most Christian Democrats do not want to go quite as far as most Liberals in these directions. Both are willing to compromise, however. Yet they cannot compromise their basic principles. If the VVD disowns its liberal heritage and turns to pure conservatism, it will lose liberal voters to Democrats '66. If the CDA moves away from its Christian tradition, becoming a more liberal conservative party, it will lose voters to the small Christian parties. The Reactionary Conservatism of the Small Christian Parties

While the Christian Democrats have accepted gradually and reluctantly

the secularization and liberalization of Dutch culture and society, small parties emerged morals and traditions. parties deserve some influence on the CDA.

that denounced this 'betrayal' of Christian Though unimportant in terms of votes, these attention here because of their (potential) Besides, they represent Dutch conservatism in

its purest form, undiluted by either liberalism or social reformism. One might even call them 'reactionary conservatives' in so far as they advocate explicitly a return to the past: specifically, the glorious past of the Dutch Republic in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In those days the Dutch people still obeyed the Christian law and its prophets, hence it enjoyed prosperity, power, worldwide prestige and freedom. The government still paid respect to the (Calvinist) Reformed Church and prosecuted 'idolatry and false religion', that is Catholicism and Baptist or other Protestant denominations. Today, however, neither the government nor the people devote any attention to church or religion, law or prophets (Zandt, 1984; Zandt and Van Dis, no date). This is the opinion of the Political Reformed Party (Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partial, SGP) founded in 1918 by ministers of small dissenting fundamentalist Calvinist communities who disagreed with both the Anti-Revolutionary Party and the two major Reformed Churches. In its 1986 election platform the SGP called for a ban on prostitution, pornography, blasphemy and abortion, for more economic freedom and more national independence (SGP, 1986). No wonder even party members admit the reactionary conservative nature of the party (Janse, 1985: 81-90).

Compared with the SGP the GPV (Gereformeerd Politiek Verbond, Reformed Political Association) appears more modern. It was founded in 1948 by former Anti-Revolutionaries, mainly because of a conflict within the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands. Practically all members of the party belong to the fur dame fatalist Free Reformed

Church, founded as a result of this conflict in 1944. Whereas its militant style differs from the nostalgic but passive acquiescence of the


The Transformation

of Contemporary


SGP, both parties share basic ideas and goals. Unlike the SGP, the GPV does accept female members, but both frown upon the full emancipation of women. The GPV f a v o r s more government invest~ rent in economic infrastructure, but both defend free enterprise and private property (Verbrugh, 1980: 11-23). Because the GPV allowed members from other than Free Reformed Churches to vote for it but (usually) not to join it, some of its political supporters set up an auxiliary association. In 1972 this association broke with the GPV, in 1975 it merged with groups of Anti-

Revolutionaries who objected to the plans for a Christian Democratic Appeal. The new party was named Reformed Political Federation (RPF). In style it seems as militant and activist as the GPV, but more emotional and evangelical. It has been compared to the Moral Majority in the USA (New York Times, 1981, NRC Handefsbfad, 1986a). Like its American counterpart, but unlike the SGP, it does not shun the mass media. Some of its leaders have helped to found the Evangelical Broadcasting Association (Evangelische Omroep), which counted more than 320,000 members by 1987 (NRC Handelsbfad, 1987). All three Protestant parties denounce the secular and liberal tendencies of the CDA, especially its tolerance of abortion, pornography, commercial television and homosexual behaviour. They cooperate occasionally (for example to win a seat in the European Parliament in 1984) but reject proposals for a federation or a merger. Their religious identity needs a political expression, in their eyes, as their religious differences remain significant, political unity seems impossible (Abrna and Boender, 1985, Dolle, 1982, Van de Ven and Vink, 1986). ` While conservative Protestant parties have carved out a relatively

stable electorate (close to 5 per cent of all Dutch voters), conservative Catholic parties have not been successful in this respect. In 1972 a small Catholic party was founded and managed to win one seat in parliament (with 0.9 per cent of the popular vote), but in 1977 the seat

was lost again. Another Catholic group took part in the 1986 elections under the hopeful name God Met Ons (God With Us) but obtained no support. Obviously, conservative Dutch Catholics have remained loyal to the Catholic People's Party (until 1977) and its successor, the Christian Democratic Appeal (since 1977). Unlike conservative Dutch Protestants, they lack support from a church, the Catholic Church has remained united - with some difficulty and disinclined to support small Catholic parties. Catholics who were or are too conservative to support the CDA have occasionally drifted towards the conservative --.-.

fringe of the Dutch party system, however.

Conservatism in the Netherlands


Conservatism at the Fringe of the Party System Dutch conservatives who reject both liberal and Christian traditions are condemned to the fringe of the party system. In the 1960s they rallied around the Boerenpartij (Farmers' Party), which attacked the welfare state with a mixture of laissez-faire liberalism, moral conservatism and populist rhetoric. In 1967 it gained seven seats in parliament (5 per cent of the popular vote), but within a few years it fell apart because of personal rivalries and poor organization (Nooij, 1969: 32-46). In the 1970s many conservatives joined Democratic Socialists '70 (DS'70). DS'70 was founded in 1970 by right-wing members of the Labour Party who disapproved of the radicalization and rejuvenation of this party and the influence of the New Left. They favoured progressive social policies, a conservative financial policy and a strong deface against communism. They may have been the first politicians who warned against mass immigration from countries with alien cultures. In 197 l , DS'70 won eight seats in parliament (5 per cent of the popular vote) and joined a coalition government with Christian Democrats and Liberals. In 1972 the party left the coalition when it could not agree with the financial policy of the latter. Electoral setbacks led to internal strife. In 1977, DS'70 retained only one seat in parliament, in 1981 none. In 1983 it disbanded (Schonewille, $983). Most members of the disintegrating DS'70 may have joined Democrats '66 or the VV , but a few established more extreme right-wing groups: the European Conservative Union, which took part in the 1977 elections but received only 200 votes, or the more important Centrump artij (Centre Party), established in 1980. With a rather xenophobic campaign against immigration the Centrumpartij won 0.8 per cent of the popular vote, enough for one seat in parliament, at the 1982 elections. At the elections for the European Parliament in 1984 it

even gained 2.6 per cent; with the slogan 'Europe for the Europeans', it seemed to play on racial prejudices against immigrants from North Africa, Asia or Latin America. Internecine factional and personal conflicts may have prevented the party from winning any seats at the 1986 parliamentary elections (Brants and Hogendoorn, 1983, De Volkskrant, 1986a). Thus radical conservative parties seem doomed to a fragile and ephemeral existence in the Netherlands. The only stable force in this tradition is probably the OSL Stichtingen veer Vrijheid en Veiligheid (OSL Foundations for Freedom and Security), founded in 1958, not as a political party, but as a pressure group. Originally OSL stood for 'Oud Strijders Legion' (War Veterans Legion). Gradually the veterans admitted more and more civilian friends and sympathizers

to their ranks, in 1975 the organization was divided into four sections: the veteran legion, a youth organization (named 'Constructive Young


The Transformation

of Contemporary


Netherlands'), a fund-raising foundation and a foundation for the development of political consciousness. With about 17,000 supporters, the OSL holds regular local and national meetings and conferences, usually attended by respectable members of the Foreign Service, military officers, academics and right-wing members of CDA, VVD and RPF. At these meetings and in its monthly journal, 'Stavast' (stand firm) the OSL praises parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, nuclear energy, NATO and nationalism, its enemies are all leftist forces, especially pacifists, squatters, ecologists, feminists and trade unionists (Ego, 1986, Pots, 1986, De Vries and Klein, 1986). Without ever taking part in elections, the OSL exerts ideological

pressure on politicians of CDA and VVD, perhaps in a way similar to the Heritage Foundation or the American Corservative Union in the USA. Conclusion: New Conservatism?

The Dutch party system is extremely fragmented and complicated, so is Dutch conservatism. There is no Conservative party, but conservative ideas and policies are not difficult to find - in all varieties, from traditional to neoliberal and New Right conservatism. Thus, the VVD (Dutch Liberals) combines moral or cultural liberalism with economic market conservatism, while emphasizing national deface against communism. The Christian Democrats used to advocate a mixed economy as well as moral (cultural) conservatism, but since their

merger into one party (the CDA) in 1980, they seem to turn slowly to liberalism in both areas, or as Felling and Peters would put it: towards economic conservatism, but away from cultural conservatism. An Anglo-Saxon observer might conclude: Reaganomics and Thatcherism have swept the Netherlands, too, within a few years the CDA and VVD might merge into a Dutch Conservative Party. However, any knowledgeable Dutchman would regard this as an absurd conclusion. No doubt neoconservative American and British ideas and examples have inspired Dutch politicians, but the latter have not lost their Dutch

identity. Religious questions remain relevant to this identity, even in a modern, secular age. Though the CDA becomes more secular and liberal, its cadre remains religious and attends church regularly, while the VVD attracts many religious voters, its cadre does not often join or attend a church (Middel and Van Schuur, 1981:67). Hence they continue to disagree on moral or sociocultural issues, but occasionally even on socioeconomic issues, when the Christian Democrats defend collective interests and institutions against the individualism and

market rationality of the Liberals. Though the Christian Democratic Appeal has moved towards the VVD on these issues since 1980, it has

Conservatism in the Netherlands 95

to maintain some distance in order to prevent its working-class voters from switching to the Dutch Labour Party. Besides, when economic circumstances allow more public expenditures, the gap between CDA and VVD might widen again. Finally, 'conservatism' remains a taboo in the Netherlands. It is advocated openly only by small Protestant parties and more ephemeral or peripheral groups at the right-wing fringe of the political system. This may be more than a semantic matter. The belief in progress, liberty and equality may be more deeply rooted in Dutch culture than in British culture. Conservative ideas and policies, exist, however, also in the Netherlands. Here they are usually mixed with, or disguised as, progressive liberal, social or Christian reformist elements. Ruud Lubbers, the Dutch Prime Minister since 1982, who is similar to Mrs Thatcher - in his goals, if not in his style has expressed this very well in his typical 'consociationall reconciliatory style: 'You might say I reject the conservative element. I am not saying that there are no important values to be conserved, but you can best conserve these values by changing things, by adapting and rethinking them over time' (1986:23).


Note I. However, recently more leading members seem to acknowledge the conservative element, with some qualifications: see Nijpels (1985), Schreuder (1980); compare Geertsema (1979). See also Daalder and Koole (forthcoming).

References Abma, H.G. and C.G. Boender (1985) 'Punter van overeeristemming en verschil tosser do SGP, het GPV en de RPM. The Hague: Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partial. Brants, K. and W. Hogendoorn (1983) Van vreemde .smearer vrrj: opfcomsr van de Cemrumparty. Bussum: De Hwan. CDA (sine anno) Program war: Uftgangspunten. The Hague: Christen Democratisch Appel. CDA (1978) Gespreide veranfwoorde!ijkherld. The Hague: Christen Democratisch Appel. CDA (1979) Christian Political Opziorzs. The Hague: Christen Democratiseh Appel. CDA (I982a) I/ernieuwfng on befoul. The Hague: Christen Democratisch Appel. CDA (198213) Passer ofpoifrie. The Hague: Christen Dernoeratiseh Appel. CDA (1982c) Themabundel Emanciprzriebeleid. The Hague: Christen Democratisch

Appel, CDA (1983) Van verzorgingsszaar near verzorgingsmaatsehappy. The Hague: Christen Democratisch Appel. CDA (1984a) Werkloosheid en de crisis in ooze sarnenfeving. The Hague: Christen Democratisch Appel. CDA (l984b) Proceedings of the Party Council of 15 December 1984 (unpublished). CDA (1986) U:'rzi'cht: Sames Werken veer Morgan. CDA Akrieprogram. The Hague:

Christen Democratisch Appel. CD Acruee!(1985) 5 (25): 12-13.

96 The Transformation

of Contemporary


Daalder, Hans (1966) 'The Netherlands: Opposition in a Segmented Society', pp. 188-236 in Robert A. Dahl (ed.), Political! Opposition.; in Western Democracies. New Haven: Yale University Press. Daalder, H. and R.A. Koole (forthcoming) 'Liberal Parties in the Netherlands' in E. Kirchner (ed.) Liberal Parties in Western .Europa Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

De Kam, Flip (1987) 'Denivelleren mag weer', In termediair, 22 (1/l): 45-51. De Lange, H.M. (1986) 'Do buitenlandse en de defcrisiepolitiek van het kabinet

Lubbers', Clovis Mundi, 25(1): 31-5. De Roos, W.A.A.M. (1986) 'Het economiseh beleid van het kabinet Lubbers', Civil Mundi, 25(1): 12-16. De Volkskranz (l986a) 23 May. De Volkskrant (1986b) 12 June. De Vries, B. and P. Klein (1986) 'Wat een land w a r dit allemaal moor kan. De troebelheid van het OSL', Hervormd Nederland, 42 (40): 12-15. De Wolff, L.J. (1984) 'Overheid en maatschappelijke organisaties: van corporatism near etatisme', pp. 199-226 in J.W. de Beus and J.A.A. van Doom (eds) De in terventiesraal. Meppel: Boom. Dijlle, A.H.M. (1982) 'De Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij', pp. 158-87 in Jaerboek DNPP I98f. Groningen: Documerltatiecentrum Nederlandse Politieke Partijen. Ego, P.J.G.A. (1986) 'Openingstoespraak', Sravasz, 28 (IO): 338-41. Felling, A. and J. Peters (1984) 'Conservatism in Nederland nader bekeken', Mens en Muarschappy, 59(4): 339-62. Geertsema, WJ. (1979) 'Progressiviteit en Conservatism: in liberals visie', Civis Mundi, 18(3): 144-78. Gecrtsema, W.J. (1986) 'De Realisatie van Liberals Beginselen op Immaterieel Gebied', Liberaal Reveii, 27(4): 126-9. Groenveld, K. and A.A.M. Kinnegirlg (1985) Liberalism en pofitfeke economic. The Hague; Teldersstiehting. Harris, Nigel (1971) Beliefs in Society. I-larmondsworth: Penguin. Irving, R.E.M. (1979) The Christian Democratic Parties of Western Europe. London: George Allen and Unwire.

Janse, C.S.L. (1985) Bewaar her pand. Houten: Den Hertog. Koolc, R.A. (1983) 'Partijprogramma's en buitenlands beleid', pp. 161-95 in Jaarboek

DNPP I982. Groningen: Documentatiecentrum Nederlandse Politieke Partijen. Lehning, P.B. (1984) 'Neoconservatism and the Welfare State, Justice and Retrenchment in the 1980s; a Dutch example', pp. 36-48 in R. Kroes (ed.) Neoconservazism. Its Emergence in the USA and Europe. Amsterdam: Free University Press.

Lijphart, Amend (1968) The Politics ofAc'cFJmmodalion: Phsralism and Democracy in the Netherlands. Berkeley CA: University of California Press. Lijphart, Arend (1974) 'The Netherlands: Continuity and Change in Voting Behaviour' pp. 227-68 in Richard Rose (ed.)Electoral'Behaviour.' A Comparative Handbook, New York: The Free Press.

Lubbers, R.F.M. (1986) 'De Voofsmaak van de her else gerechtigheid', pp. 13-30 in Hans van Gerven and Bert Rijpert (eds) Geweten op her Binnenhof. Amsterdam: Mets Goossens. Middel, L.P. and W.H. van Sehuur (1981) 'Dutch Party Delegates', pp. 61-86 in Jaarboek DNPP I980. Groningen: Documerttatiecentrum Nederlandse


Partijen. Middendorp, C.P. (1978) Progressiveness and Conservatism. The Hague: Mouton.

Conservatism in the Netherlands


Middendorp, C.P. (1979) Omzuilfng, polirisering en restauratfe in Nederland. Meppel/ Amsterdam: Boom. New York Times (1981), 28 May, Nooij, A.T.J. (1969) De Boerenparry. Meppel: Boom. NRC Han deisblad (1986a), 4 January. NRC Handelsbfad (1986b), 12 February. NRC Han delsbfad (1986c), 7 March. NRC I-landelsblad (1987), 3 January. Nijpeis, E.T.H.M. (1985) 'De liberals oplossing', Liberaal Reveii, 26(2):7'7-80. Port, H. (1986) 'De Moed van de zwijgende meerderheid', Stavasf, 29(9): 295-6. Rietkerk, J.G. (1978) 'Democratic op meet', pp. 25-38 in Liberalfsme .in dearer fachrfg. The Hague: Teldersstichting. Roethof, H. (1982) De aborruskwestie en meer dan dat. The Hague: Stimezo. Scholten, I. (1986) Political Stability and Neocorpora zism in Europe. London/Beverly

Hills: Sage. Schonewille, P. (1983) 'DS"10: het verde alternatief, MA Thesis, University of Groningen.

Schreuder, R. (1980) 'Liberalisms in Nederland', Liberaal Reveil, 22(1): 46-53. Social! en Culzureel Rapport (1984) The Hague: Staatsuitgeverij. SGP (1986) In trouw rechr doer: verkiezingsprogram SCP 1986-/990. The Hague: Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij. Van der Eijk, C. and B. Niemoller (1984) 'Het potcntiéle electoral van de Nederlandse politieke partier', Beleid en maaischappy, 11(7/8):192-204. Van de Ven, W. and B. Vink (1986) 'Het geloofder vaderen', In rermediair, 22(20): 7-15. Van Doorn, J.A.A. (1978) 'Liberalisme: plaatsbcpaling in perspcctief, pp. 9-23 in Liberalisme in de jaren lachtig. The Hague: Teldersstichting. Van Sorneren Downer, I-laya (1978) 'Onderwijs-Kennis-Ontplooiing-Vrijheid', pp. 3963 in Liberalisme in de jaren tachrig. The Hague: Teldersstichting. Van Voorden, W. (1986) 'Het sociaal-cconomisch beieid van het kabinet Lubbers, Civis Mundi, 25(l):l6-21. Vcrbrugh, AJ. (1980) Universal en Antirevolutionair. Groningen: De Vuurbaak. VVD (1948) Toelfchling op her Beginselprogram. The Hague: Volkspartij veer Vrijheid en Democratic.

VVD (1981) Liberaal Manifest. The Hague: Volkspartij veer V1-ijheid en Democratic. VVD (1985) Er is meer dan voorheen in de wereld to doer. The Hague: Volkspartij veer

Vtijheid en Democratic. VVD (1986) I/erkiezfngsprogramma 1986-/990. The Hague: Volkspartij veer Vrijhad en Democratic.

Von der Dunk, H. (1982) 'Conservatism in the Nel;hc:r1ands', pp. 182-203 in Zig Layton-Henry (ed.) Conservative Politics in Western Europe. London: Macmillan. Zandt, P. (1984) 'De Wet on de Profeten', pp. 7-22 in Hoorn de rude 1. Sine loco: Landelijk Verband van snaatkundig Gereformeerde Studieverenigingen. Zandt, P. and C.N. van Dis (sine anno) Uireenzerring van de artikelen van he! Beginselprogram der Staazkundfg Gereformeerde Parry. Sine }oco: Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partial. Zoutendijk, G. (1978) 'Besluitvorming en democratic' pp. 97-122 in Liberalisme in de caren tachtfg. The Hague: Teldersstichting.

6 Conservatism and the Transformation of the Austrian People's Party Wolfgang C. Rifler

Austrian Conservatism 1945-70: the 6vp

The Ideological Spectrum within the (WP

There is not a pure conservative party within the highly concentrated Austrian party system. The Austrian People's Party however, can be included under the conservative rubric (Gerlich and Miiller, 1983, Gerlich, 1987, Pelinka, 1983). The OVP was the strongest party in Austria from 1945 until 1970. It dominated the national government

until 1947 with the exception of a few months in 1945 and subsequently the 'black-red' grand coalition (1947-66). Although it formed a single party government in 1966, the Ovp lost its majority in 1970 and has been in opposition at the federal level until 1987. The OVP was founded as a new party in 1945, nevertheless to a certain extent it functions as the successor party of the pre-war Christian Social Party. The new name was intended to indicate a break with the negative traditions

fits predecessor party: authoritarianism

was replaced by a pledge to parliamentary democracy, pan-Gerrnanism by an Austrian patriotism, and political Catholicism by the abandonment of any confessional label (Reichhold, 1975, Pelinka, 1983). The party's conception of itself is that of a non-socialist catch-all (biérgerliche Sammlungsparrei) that contains different ideological tendencies: (Catholic) Christian social doctrine, conservatism and

liberalism. These ideological tendencies do not determine the organic zational structure of the party, which follows the socioeconomic cleavage. Therefore all ideologies are represented in the main sections of the party organization, although with different influences upon it. Catholic Christian social doctrine remains the most important

ideological foundation for the self-perception and self-definition of the Ovp. For most of the party members and supporters this means in practice no more than a Catholicism of milieu, which has to be considered as the most important positive force of integration. The

Conservatism and the Austrian People's Party Table 6.1

Austrian Elections, 1945-86 Percentag e of seats in parliament!

Percentage: of votes



44.6 38.7 42.1

49.8 44.0


43.0 44.8



46.0 44.2 45.4

1945 1949 1953 1956

1966 1970 1971 1975 1979 1983 1986









11.7 10.9 6.5

5.6 5.6 5.7 4.5

51.5 465' 44.8




3.5 3.?



48.4 50.0 50.4


5 L0


7.0 5.4 5.5 5.5 5.4 6.1









43.1 43.0

L4 L4 1.2


40.6 44.2 44.8 47.3

46.1 44.8 49.1 50.8 50.8 51.9 49.2 43.7

49.7 47.9


51.5 4'7.3 43_?


42.1 44.3


8.5 3.6

OTHERS" 2.4 3.0 2.4 1.8

4.8 4.8

3.6 3.6 5.5 5.5 6.0 6.6 9.8


1945-70: 165 seats, 1971-86: 183 seats. Named VdU until 1956. 3 1945-62 mainly KPO, 1966: mainly DFP, a splinter group from the SPO; 1970-79 mainly KPO, 1983-6 mainly 'grccns`. 4 1945-56: KPO, 1986: 'greens'. 1


Source: Haerpfer, 1983, Bundesministerium fir Inheres.

more elaborated interpretations of Catholicism cover a very broad spectrum. Within the economic sphere it has a strong component of social reformism. Within the realm of 'superstructure` the spectrum covers both very conservative and 'progressive' positions. Policy proposals are often derived from the latter which are similar to those promoted by liberals. Catholicism has succeeded in determining the standpoints of the Ovr concerning questions related to societal

'superstructure', and until 1970 it was the conservative interpretation of Catholicism which prevailed. Classical state conservatism, however, which was strongly rooted in the predecessor party of the OVP, has had only a rudimentary influence subsequently. A strong state was called for only where it was believed to be necessary to counter the

impact of societal secularization. Thus the Ovp, for instance, always insisted on the protection of religion and the family by the criminal law. Within the Ovp only a small though increasing

number of politicians are committed to liberalism (Stirnemann, 1969). Their commitment

is primarily economic. Despite their relatively small

number, Ovp liberals have gained considerable influence over the party's economic policy, though ideologically their influence remains limited by the forces of social reform. After the most severe economic consequences of the Second World War had been overcome, the Ovp


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

committed itself to the social market economy (Soziale Marktwirtschaft). The liberals emphasize the word market, while the (Catholic) social reformers stress the word social. Economic liberalism, however, had limited influence over policy, particularly where pragmatic intervention and government regulation served the economic interest of the Ovp core groups, for example within agriculture (subsidies) or in small scale business (legal restrictions on competition). Here an economic conservatism with strong features of corporatism emerged, which can be traced back to the 1880s in Austria. These ideological currents exist within the Ovp, but the party has always been dominated by pragmatic forces. Pragmatism was not only a function of the party's environment, in particular the coalition structure, but also reflected the general lesson Austrian parties had learned from the inter-war period. Within the Ovp, therefore, disputes over different ideological positions seldom emerged. Most of the time they worked together, and areas of competence were identified. Central Features of the Austrian PerJple's Party There are three central features which have characterized the OVP from its inception: (1) its specific form of party organization, (2) the unsolved question of its identity and (3) its role as a governing party. These features are important for the explanation of its success in the twenty~five years following the Second World War, but they also

highlight the reasons for its bad performance since 1970. Until the 1970s, with few qualifications, the Ovp's organizational structure can be characterized as follows: it is an indirect party (cf. Duverger, 1964: 6ff), its constitutive elements are the Farmers' League (Bauernbund), the Business League (Wirtschaftsbund) and the Workers' and Employees' League (Arbeiter-und Angestelltenbund).

The Business League and the Farmers' League together dominate or even monopolize important interest organizations, namely the Chambers of Business and the Chambers of Agriculture, which are of central importance for social partnership, the Austrian form of neocorporatism (Gerlich et al., 1985). The Workers' and Employees' League by comparison is in a clear minority position compared with the social democrats within the Trade Union Federation and the

Chamber of Labour. Financially the Leagues are autonomous and it is the leagues who recruit and organize the party members. The Farmers' League has the highest membership (at least on paper), the Business League the most money. As a consequence the latter two leagues have always been more powerful than the Workers' and Employees'

League, although, as a result of social and economic change employees now constitute a greater segment of those engaged in economic

Conservatism and the Austrian People's Parry


activity. The extremely strong position of the leagues is paralleled by the autonomy of the nine provincial party organizations. Both features lead to a very weak central party. The Ovp has always been a governing party. The party chairmen were usually Federal Chancellors who also led their party from their government office. Like the chiefs of the leagues and the regional party organizations they were not interested in a strong and powerful central party (which was directed by the secretary-general). The power of the party chairman over these leaders lay in his position as Federal Chancellor and, when an extremely strong party leader emerged (J.

Raab), also in the accumulation of positions within the leagues and regions, which were held simultaneously with the position of party chairman. The third feature is that the Ovp failed to develop a positive identity ofits own (Schilcher, 1971). On one side the strongest intra-party units, the leagues, served primarily for the representation of partly antagonistic interests. On the other side the party identified strongly with government, a fact which made it reluctant to develop economic programmes of its own (Aiginger, 1985). The cohesive forces of the party were the already mentioned Catholicism of milieu, strongleaderpersonalities, as well as its definition as the opponent of the sro. In the internal arena also, the coalition was important for integration. Thus the different interests within the party were forced to demonstrate unity against the main political opponent which was also the coalition partner. In the electoral arena it was the 'red cat' strategy which was aimed at integrating all non-socialist voters by maintaining that the

social democrats and communists were basically the same (HOlzl, 1974) Conservatism and Parry Politics in the Late 19605 Until the early 19605 the 6vp worked within a very stable environment. At the electoral level the Lager-ties still dominated and this guaranteed stable voting behaviour (I-Iaerpfer, 1983). At the governmental level the GVP was chained to the SPC in the grand coalition. This was caused firstly by the severe problems of post-war Austria, in particular the ten years of occupation by the Allies, which had an integrative impact, and secondly by the exclusion of the VdU (later the FPC) from any coalition. The latter was not considered eligible for government because of its role as an electoral expression for former Nazis. The stability of the party environment was further promoted by the control of wide parts of societal life by the two coalition parties. However, the

co-operation ofOVPand SPO within government became increasingly difficult and the Ovp leadership was criticized by the lower echelons of

102 The Transformation

of Contemporary


the party for not pushing bourgeois interests sufficiently within the coalition. Since the early 1960s some of the constant factors which had characterized post-war Austria were called into question. Austrian growth rates, once among the highest, fell to about average levels. In politics the grand coalition displayed increasing immobility, and in both parties the groups opposed to this relationship strengthened. These developments were paralleled by enormous social and technological changes (changes in economic and social structure, softening of social classes, secularization, etc.). The Ovp leadership believed that an adequate response to these challenges required a more sophisticated or technocratic approach to politics. This was to allow a 'style of pertinence', 'emotions, opportunism and solutions for the day' were to be replaced by 'pertinence, systematic and lasting solutions' (party chairman J. Klaus). Politics was to be reduced to those issues which could not be resolved unequivocally by scientific advisers. Programmatically the Ovp therefore displayed an affinity to the idealizations of German conservative intellectuals (Schelsky, Gehlen, Freyer, Forsthoff), which was labeled 'technocratic conservatism' (Greiffenhagen, 1977: 316ff).

This feature can also be found among German and Scandinavian conservative parties. Thus the Ovp managed to present itself as a party of technocratic modernity, a fact that contributed to its 1966 electoral success (with the extraordinary weakness of the spo being the main reason). The image of technocratic modernity did not really correspond with the mentality of the lower echelons of the party, and it was countered by a reassertion of conservative Catholicism. The latter determined the positions of the OVP concerning those areas which were affected by

secularization in particular. Thus for instance the existing stipulations against homosexuality and abortion in criminal law were defended. The protection of religion and the family, also provided by criminal law, was to be extended in an unsuccessful government bill of 1968 (Stangl, 1985: am, Despite these features the Ov? in the 1960s and, even more so, in the 19705 has always rejected the conservative party label. In an official document (GVP-Lexikon) it was explained that the term "conservative" could be misunderstood as 'reactionary' and therefore it would not be a useful label in Austria because omits negative appeal to a majority of the voters. However, if a less narrow definition of conservatism is accepted, it is possible to draw analogies between the 'conservatism' of the GVP, the German CDU and the CDA in the Netherlands (of. chapters in this volume).

Conse rvanlym and the Austrian People's Party


The Transformation of the 6vp since 1970 Since 1970, at least three phases of party history can be distinguished. The first consists of disillusion and disorientation. It involves the ijVP's shift from government to opposition in 1970, and also includes its second defeat in the general election of 1971. The subsequent phase lasts until 1979, the all-time low of the party's electoral performance. This is a period of stagnation in the party structure and electoral performance. However, the party programme during this phase was characterized by substantial changes: first a movement away from conservatism, then a swing back occurred. The third phase started in 1979 and is one of increased party transformation. This affected party structure as well as policy proposals, where the already indicated U-turn towards neoconservatism was made.

From Disorientation to 'the Party of the Progressive Centre' In 1970 the Ovp for the first time in its history lost its parliamentary majority and had to leave government. During its single party government (1966-70), it had made a number of serious mistakes with regard to securing re-election. It also had to stand against a strong spo, which had undergone a successful party reform under its new chairman Bruno Kreisky. In its party platform as well as in its slogans the Ovp insisted mainly on the status quo. It demonstrated a lack of dynamism and did not exhibit a willingness for reform. This conservatism was in striking contrast to the social needs from the 1960s to the 1970s, which the spo appeared to address more adequately. The electoral defeat of 1970 did not lead immediately to changes in the party structure or the OVP's policy proposals. Initially the election was interpreted as an error on the part of the voters. This period of

party history was characterized by a rapid succession of important elections. Each election was connected within the Ovp with the hope that it would become a turning point, i.e. a return to electoral success. intra-party changes therefore were restricted to the old remedy of conservative parties: change of leadership. However, even party chief Withalm in his resignation speech pointed out that this was not a

sufficient means. In addition to new men, new programmes and ideas would be required, if the party was to change its structure into that of a really modern party. The first attempt to introduce such a structural reform was made after the general election of 1971, which gave an absolute majority to the SPY and made it clear to the Ovr that it would have to stay in opposition for four more years. The range of problems to be solved was clear. Together with government, the party had lost the resources of the state and the

104 The Transformation

of Contemporary


authority of public office as resources for intra-party integration. The specific form of the party organization also increased the problems of cohesion: the power of the leagues, in particular that of the farmers and business, and of six of the nine provincial party organizations increased vis-a-vis the central party, because these organizations still

had access to legitimate power and public resources. The dominance of the leagues and also of the regional party organizations over the central party put two strains on the latter. The party often appeared divided during the long and complicated decision-making process. The second concerned the contents of decision making, which required

compromises between the leagues. Since 1970 the core groups of the 6vp, farmers and businessmen, had been considerably reduced in size. However, the farmers retained their influence within the Ovp, despite this decline in voting strength. The Business League, on the other hand, was able to neutralize the socioeconomic changes unfavourable to it and by successful recruitment actually increased its strength within the party. In contrast to these two groups, blue- and white~collar strata were strongly underrepresented. However, the Workers' and Employees' League was successful in reducing its electoral underrepresentation (see Table 6.2), but its recruitment activities could not keep up with those of the Business League. The Of, therefore, is a good example of a party which is still dominated by traditional groups a long time after their

numerical importance in the electorate has been substantially reduced (SjOblorn, 1981: 27f). Too much emphasis was often placed on the interests of the strong leagues (farmers and business), while failing to attract the growing proportion of wage-earners. From a voter's perspective, therefore, the (EVP remained primarily concerned with

quasi-corporatist interest representation. However, this did not reflect the social development which already included a trend towards new

cleavages, which were not sufficiently represented within a party with a socioeconomic league structure (Wilflinger, 19712240-2, Gottweis, 1983:65). Furthermore, it was no longer sufficient to define oneself only as the opponent of the spy. In order to gain electoral success, the Ovp had to develop a positive identity and positive policy proposals . The first attempt to solve these problems was made in 1972, the so-called year of 'party reform'. The reform concentrated on two

areas: working out a new party programme (new ideas) and a new party statute (a new structure). The main emphasis was put on working out the programme. The discussion was conducted in a democratic and

participatory manner, although in effect it was dominated by the party intellectuals. The result, the 'Salzburg Programme' (1972) which, after

the phase of technocratic modernity in the 19605, reflected a reorientation towards ideology. Christian values were still stressed. However,

Conservatism and the Austrian People's Party

Table 6.2


Social bases of parry support 1'n Austria, 1969-85 (percentages) 1969






16 34 25 25

12 35 29 24


43 24 20

12 42 27 18

3 44 50 2

3 41 53 2

6vp Self employed, professions White-collar workers Blue-collar workers Farmers

29 23 35

spy Self employed, professions

White-collar workers Blue-collar workers Farmers

2 25 68 5

5 30

62 3


33 60 2

Source: Plasser, 1986:5.

for the first time they were not taken as the truth from which the programme had to be derived, but were taken as an external yardstick for the party's own will. Moreover, now it was a more 'progressive' Catholicism with open boundaries to other humanistic positions. The turning away from moral conservatism could, for example, be detected

in the positions concerning the family, where the conservative commitments of the 1963 programme had disappeared. For the first time it was conceded, in the case of abortion, that criminal prosecution had to take into consideration the dilemma faced by women. The Ovp after the 'Salzburg Programme' characterized itself as 'the party of the progressive centre', a formula Neoconservatives are not happy with today (Khol, 1985). The 'Salzburg P1°ogramme', like that of most ideological party platforms, aimed at integrating the party through discussion and clarification. It did not directly appeal to the electorate, for this latter purpose special 'action programmes' were produced.

Their central feature was the 'quality of life', which had already been mentioned in the 'Salzburg Programme? However, it was characteristic for this period that the Ovr took over this term from the German Social Democrats. The aim o f the Pléine zur Lebensqualftdt was not to produce ideas which could be quickly realized through political action but to formulate 'realistic utopias', thereby providing an ideological challenge for the party itself. The party did not unanimously accept all the ideas contained in the programmes as some of them were seen as being too close to the Left (Wilflinger, 1978:140-2). The Programme had many limitations in giving the party a new profile in the electoral arena. The most important one was that it lacked a clear articulation of priorities. The economic programme, for

example, consisted of parts which were influenced by the party's business wing as well as parts which reflected the priorities of the


The Transformation

of Contemporary


Workers' and Employees' League. It simultaneously contained traditional business positions (impo rtance of the entrepreneur, positive role of small- and medium-sized enterprises, etc.), while emphasizing the need for an active industrial adjustment policy by government, demanding a redistribution of income as well as the inauguration of the Verursacherprinzip under which those who cause damage to the

environment are held to bear the cost. Finally the programme even discussed the alienation of work within the industrial node of production.

Unlike the new programmes the new party statute emerged in a rather oligarchic way. The objectives of the central party bureaucracy

working on this reform were to speed up the intra-party decision making and to gain acceptance for the priority of the party over its sub-units. At the same time it was intended to demonstrate that the party took notice of the new cleavages. The compromise which was

finally accepted by the central party executive and the leaders of the leagues contained some amendments to the party statute which are likely tO have some impact in the long run, but fall short of their immediate goals (Horner, 1980).

Soon after the new statute had been enacted by the party convention, groups within the i8vp assisted by a good part of the conservative press began to argue for the conventional method of party reform, namely a change of personnel (Kriechbaumer, 1981:305-11). If one keeps in mind the historical experience of the party this did not seem

irrational- This approach had been successful three times previously (March and Olsen, 1975), The discussion ended with the death of party chairman Schleinzer in a car crash about two months before the general election of 1975. Succession had to be settled quickly with the election campaign already under way. This very special situation created an intra-party atmosphere which led to personal and organic

zational interests being pushed into the background.

Party leadership was taken over by J. Taus (chairman) and E. Busek Both were young politicians who were ranked among the 'hopefuls' of the party. Their appointment completely ignored the traditional principles of rewarding past performance and keeping the parity of the leagues within the party leadership. It also led the party to the erroneous belief that such positive and courageous


changes of personnel had considerably increased the party's electoral

potential. However, the polls did not improve, and the 'quality of life' strategy was suddenly cancelled. The party's campaign became more negative and concentrated on the so-called 'scandal posters'. This strategy turned out to be counterproductive. Also, many voters became confused when explicitly confronted with economic problems. The

Conservatism and the Austrian People's Parry



however, did not offer real alternatives within the realm of

economic policy at this point in time (Aiginger, 1985), but promised to execute more or less the same policy as the incumbent government, but with more skill. Although the Ovp promised co-operation, this was a dubious strategy for an opposition party with a relative newcomer in politics as its top candidate. In fact, the electorate's motivation at the 1975 general election was essentially defensive and the spo gained an absolute majority for a second time. Partly influenced by the relative success of the conservative parties in Sweden and Germany (Diem, 1976), the Ovp now pursued a strategy of confrontation with the spo. Party chairman Taus, in particular, announced an 'ideology discussion' between his party and

the spo. This turned out to be more a semantic war than a discussion. During it the SPO, the most successful social democratic party in Europe, was described as a Marxist party. This appeared somewhat curious, because such a description stood in striking contrast to governmental practice. The 'ideology discussion' did not solve the problem of having failed to develop a commonly accepted positive

identity for the Ova, because it once again only described the party as non-SPC. This had the effect of mobilizing the core groups, but it was probably counterproductive when appealing to truly liberal and centrist voters (Wilflinger, 1978). The Ovp°s strategy of confrontation was paralleledin "lie parliamentary arena by a reorientation of the two opposition parties. .. . .... ..... ..

. .... . ..

Although the OVP as well as the FPO had always wanted to join the SPO in a coalition since 1979 an OVP-FPO coalition was most likely, provided the required electoral result was obtained. Thus in the 1979 election campaign the spo could define two clear alternatives: namely the continuation of the (successful) spo government or its replacement by the coalition mentioned above. It was a clear alternative in so far as

two different teams of government were concerned. However, the OVP did not succeed in presenting a similar clearcut alternative in terms of policy proposals. The late 19705 in Austria were dominated by the issue of maintaining full employment. Against the background of the historical trauma of mass unemployment during the 19305, the spo government was able to define full employment as the first priority of economic policy. The GVP therefore made some attempt to improve its policy competence in this respect. Although it now rejected global demand management, because of its budgetary consequences, it continued like the spO to

favour an active role for the state in maintaining full employment. However, on this issue, the policy competence of the SPO rcrnained much higher than that of the OVP. The electorate even judged the

Ovp°s competence concerning the typical conservative aim of price


The Transformation

of Contemporary


stability poorly. The electorate believed that the Ovp only displayed greater competence in the efficient use of public funds (Ulram, 1985). The background for these poll data was constituted by the spCi government's extraordinarily successful crisis management: full employment was maintained, economic growth continued to be satisfactory, inflation remained tolerable and the Austrian currency became even stronger, while the immediate costs of this strategy proved acceptable. In social policy, too, the GVP did not take positions which constituted a clear alternative, but limped behind the spo. A typical example was a package of social policy bills which was introduced to parliament by the sro just before the general election of 1979, and aimed at strategically important groups of voters. Sub-units of the Ovp heavily criticized the bills, but after severe intra-party disputes the party accepted them in parliament to avoid the stigma of being identified as a business party. The background for this was the still relatively good economic status of Austria, which prolonged the climate of expansion in social policy (Muller, 1985:196-200). The Ovp policy proposals of the 1970s reflect the fact that the basic consensus over economic policy had not been broken.There seemed to be no real alternative to the crisis management executed by the incumbent spo government. On the other hand the more radical tone of the new FPO leaders was more suitable for the mobilization of truly anti-socialist voters. The general election of 1979 was therefore the _biggest defeat the Ovp had yet experienced, whilst being the biggest ever electoral success for the spo. Towards Neoconservatism

Party Structure Reform

After the 1979 election defeat, the GVP was stunned. Firstly the defeat had come about quite surprisingly, and secondly, the fact that the share of votes came down close to the dangerous 40 per cent mark was considered to be ominous. The figure of 40 per cent was assumed to be the critical point dividing a large party from one of medium size.

Leading circles within the party IIOW recognized the structural weaknesses of the party for what they were: the 'classical' means of party 'reform', the replacement of the chairman, was not demanded at first. However, a sweeping party reform, as demanded by J. Taus, was rejected by the leagues. Consequently, the party chairman resigned.

His successor, A. Mock, succeeded in winning acceptance for an amendment to the party statute in 1980, which, however, only satisfied

Conservatism and the Austrian People Party


a few rather marginal reform demands. And even these were formulated

very vaguely. If we nevertheless maintain the opinion that the party reform of 1979-80 was of relevance, and in certain ways even constitutes a turning point in the party's development since 1970, we do so because behavioural patterns have not remained the same since then. The party and its sub-units decided to allow the chairman to maintain a strong position. Mock kept the position of chairman of the parliamentary group which had previously only been united in the same hands as that of party chairman for short periods. He was also successful in building up the capacity of the central party bureaucracy, which made him less dependent on the know-how of the leagues' strongholds: the Chambers. Also, dual membership between the central party executive and the leagues was somewhat reduced. It can be said that since this reform the problem for the Ovp of the leagues has been pushed to the background. The second structural problem for the party, the predominance of strong provincial party organizations over a weak central party, was not affected by the party reform.

Ideological Reorfenta dion After the party reform the Ovp had to concentrate on working out a new party strategy. This occurred against the background of the diminishing success of the government's economic crisis management

and the increasing awareness of the cost of the Austro-Keynesian strategy (increased taxation, budgetary deficit, etc.). However, these were not the only changes in the party's environment that the Ovp had to take into account when working out its strategy. Since the late 1970s Austrian political culture has undergone a

transformation. All the traditional political parties lost considerable support, while the new parties were unable to fill this gap (Plasser,

1987). Austria was also affected by the 'participatory revolution' (M. Kaase). For an increasing proportion of the population the notions about the way in which decisions ought to be made have substantially changed. The political activities of the citizenry are no longer channeled exclusively through political parties, but citizen initiatives and other instruments of direct democracy, which are rather well

developed in Austria, are also utilized. Requirements regarding governmental output have also changed quite a lot, in particular 'green' demands have emerged. The number of hard core 'greens' remained relatively small, but their existence has altered the conditions of party competition (Mtiller, 1984). These changes in political attitudes and economic indicators

allowed the OVP to follow two different strategies. It could pay attention to the greens' demands on the one hand or could concentrate

110 The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism on economic policy on the other. Discussion concerning the compatibility of these two strategies was very intense within the party. The result, which did not emerge before 1985, was that the two strategies were only partly compatible. The Ovp was keen not to present an image of being uninterested in questions of environmental protection and conservation, however, the limits of economic feasibility were not to be transgressed. Too strong an orientation towards 'green' ideas, it was maintained, would certainly lower the barriers for Ovp supporters to vote for 'green' parties (Kukacka, 1984) and the problems of intra-party cohesion would have increased tremendously. One aim of the new party strategy, particularly in the area of economic policy, was to move the Ov? away from its traditional role as the parliamentary arm of business. The party wanted to be recognized as being better qualified for national macroeconomic management than the other parties. To achieve this it was most important to improve the party's competence in securing jobs. Due to the deteriorating economic indicators and the growing awareness of this among the population, the Ovp could now argue with more plausibility that pursuing the existing economic policies would endanger existing jobs. Despite this, the Ovp's policy proposals, until at least 1982, retained a strong affinity with Keynesian state intervention. They differed from the strategies followed by the Austrian social democrats by calling for a halt to increasing taxation, and placing greater emphasis on the promotion of small- and mediumsized enterprises instead of big industries (i.e. nationalized industries and multinational corporations). During 1982 and in particular in the electoral campaign of 1983, the Ovp strategy became clearer. A Kurswechse! (change of course) and '

'another kind of policy' were demanded. Now the role of the state within the economy was regarded much more critically. The Ovp shifted towards a 'vicious circle' explanation of the crisis. In contrast to the government (which believed that the economic crisis called for new forms of state intervention and a further rise of the public sector's share in the economy) it pointed out that the ever-increasing degree of

state intervention had contributed to (but not solely caused) stagnation (Chaloupek, 1985). However, the ijVP's policy proposals concerning 1 l l i a i : u o t h e r kind of policy' remained deliberately vague during the electoral campaign of" 1983. The Ovp had, to give one example, called for a budgetary cut of AS 60 billion. For a while the party was not able or willing to specify the time span during which budgetary cuts would add up to this amount- Only when the government introduced the term Kapunsparen (going broke by budgetary cuts), did the 6vp announce that a time span ranging from

Conservatism and the Austrian PeopZe'5 Party


four to six years was designated for budgetary cuts and shifts amounting to between AS 60 billion and AS 80 billion, However, it was not made clear how much would have to be real cuts and how much would only be shifted towards other fields of state activity. Very few cases were mentioned for real cuts: one example being in the national railway system (more than 90 per cent of Austrian railway employees vote for the spo anyhow). With regard to social policy the Ovp in the 1980s gave up its practice of trailing the spO and did not support expansionary social policy measures any more, arguing that they were inappropriate at a time of economic difficulty (MUller, 1985:20l-3). The general election of 1983 brought an increase in the MVP's electoral share and parliamentary representation for the first time

since 1966. Although the increase was not impressive, this election ended the social democratic single-party government, which was replaced by an SPO-FPC) coalition. However, within the Ovr the electoral result was interpreted as a reversal of trends and as a sign that the party was on the right track. Similar impulses came from the polls, though with a substantial range of variations, as well as from elections within the Chamber of Labour and in some of the provinces. Most important was the election in 1986, with GVP support, of Kurt Waldheim as Federal President. Waldheim, among other arguments, had used some neoconservative rhetoric in his campaign. For these reasons and because of the ongoing success of conservatism in the Western world, the Ovp stuck to its course. Thus, since 1983 the ovp has moved even closer to neoliberal economic policy. Its latest economic programmes (1985-86) contain the full range of demands being put forward by neoconservatives in the USA, Great Britain and Germany, namely flexibility, deregulation, cuts and shifts in the federal budget, a comprehensive tax reform including a substantial tax relief, (re)privatization and the creation of

property. However, the Ovp proposals are 'Austrianized' and compared to their foreign models they are more moderate in detail. There are even proposals which give the state an active role, particularly in the promotion of new technologies. While the Ovp demands a 50 per cent cut in direct economic promotion (subsidies, sponsored credits, etc.) the direct promotion of new technologies is to receive more public funds. Thus the official document of the @VP's economic policy strategy contains neoliberal and neo technocratic elements.

While emphasizing elements of economic neoconservatism, the Ovp has reduced the importance of its social policy options, though these have not been deleted from the programme. Some of them fit perfectly into the revival of moral conservatism, which is increasingly emphasized by the party and in particular some of its constituent

112 The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism organizations in its forefront. The most striking demand is the introduction of the so~called Erziefzungsgeld (a monthly sum payable to all mothers who do not take or give up a job in order to bring up

their children). Furthermore marriage and the family are to become embodied in the constitution. Despite giving new emphasis to these questions, the proposals are different from those of the 1970s. During the 1970s the Ovp demanded that the family receive the protection of the criminal law, the most recent proposals are restricted to financial promotion and symbolic recognition of the family. Moral conservatism has generally gained momentum within the Ovp. Even the church has been criticized for not taking a clear position against the spo on certain questions (abortion, divorce)

(Khol, 1984). Since 1985 groups close to the Ovr have attempted to bring abortion back onto the political agenda by large scale propaganda efforts. However, this attempt differs from previous positions of moral conservatism in that it does not demand the reintroduction of criminality but to avoid abortion by positive measures. The disputes already mentioned between the neoconservatives and the 'green' wing of the dvr about the party's strategy became most obvious in working out the Zukunftsmanybst (future manifesto). It was to become the i§VP's platform for the future and was discussed between 1983 and 1985. The first official draft of the manifesto was strongly directed towards demands for environmental protection and conservation. The final version adopted by the party conference, however, was a non-committal compromise between the party's rival wings. There is some justification for the claim made by neoconser-

vatives that their view had become dominant. It is clear, even to Konecny (a social democratic MP and editor of the party's disscusion journal) that the neoconservative element, though dominant, is articulated in a very diluted form in the Zukunftsmanrtest (1985:264).

As an opposition party the ovp also tried to harness the growing popular participatory demands for its political strategies (Mtiller, 1985:208-20). It called for a referendum (Volksabstimmrmg) and used the instrument of the people's initiative (Volksbegehren) to keep issues

on the agenda on numerous occasions. In the electoral campaign of 1986 the Ovp also argued for an extension of direct democracy in Austria, in particular for the introduction of an obligatory referendum

following popular initiatives supported by more than 500,000 signatures. It has even been suggested that the abbreviation OVP stands for (irterreichische Volksabstimmungsparrei or Cfslerreichische Volksbegehrensparref (Austrian Popular Initiative Party). In a few cases the Ovp succeeded in merging ecological, economic, and participatory demands. The best example was the people's initiative against the construction of a UN conference centre in Vienna,

Conservatism and the Austrian People's Party


which was to be financed by Austria (Plasser and Ulram, 1982). Another example was the initiative, organized by the Styrian 6vp, in opposition to the purchase of military aircraft. In both cases the proposals were opposed from an ecological standpoint and on the grounds that they would be a waste of money. The struggle against new interceptor aircraft seems to conflict with an important element of traditional conservatism' a positive attitude towards the military. Its populist success, in fact, mostly rests on a general rejection of those noisy and costly aircraft by the population . The official party standpoint, however, was only to reject the specific type of aircraft for being out-dated and to demand modern ones instead. At the same time the Salzburg bvp silently supported a

people's initiative to lengthen the time of service for those conscientious objectors who opt out of military service. In sum the military feature of traditional conservatism, which does not have a grand tradition in modern Austria, was only marginally emphasized within the trend towards neoconservatisrn. Another feature of traditional conservatism, that of nationalism, could hardly ever be detected in Austria on a significant scale because of the ambivalent attitude towards an Austrian nation. However, in the electoral campaign for Federal President in 1986, the Ov? succeeded in using nationalistic arguments in support ofits candidate, Kurt Waldheim and continued to do so after his election in the face of international criticism. Summing up, it can be said that in Austria as elsewhere, a new conservatism has emerged, which contains elements of traditional conservatism and much economic neoliberalism. It emerged not so much because of original discussions in Austria, but because of the import action of successful models from foreign sister parties. In this context it is important to note that the OVP maintains intensive

relations with conservative parties within the framework of the European Democratic Union and the International Democratic Union. However, the Austrian version of neoconservatism is more moderate than its foreign models. As regards moral conservatism, the values of the 1960s remain valid, but the policy proposals now take into account the still increasing secularization, and the capacity of the party to become potentially attractive to a majority of the electorate. Whereas previously the Ov? was prepared to use the state to impose its version of morality, it now concentrates on moral appeals and positive social

policies. Last but not least, the increased importance of conservatisrn can be

seen from the increased self-confidence of the declared conservatives within the Ovp. Having been in a defensive position forbears, they are

114 The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism now on the offensive. The ovp still does not claim to be a c o n e rvative party, but in contrast to previous periods this term is not anxiously avoided any more- In the mid-1980s neoconservatisrn is not the only ideology within the Ovr but it is the most dominant. The ideological development of the Ovp must be contrasted with

that of its main opponent, the spO. At the beginning of the 1980s the difference between the parties increased considerably, due to the move of the Ova as described above. Increasing economic problems, particularly in the nationalized industries, bad results from elections and the polls, however, led the spo to a political reorientation and to the replacement of the Federal Chancellor. The spO, for example, now explicitly rejects the idea of further tax increases, and has given up its

positions on the size and functions of nationalized industries. Ideological positions are increasingly giving way to economic and political realities (Sachzwdnge), a strategy which became personalized by the new chancellor, F. Vranitzky. Within economic policy, the

policy differences between the spO and the Ovp had significantly . narrowed prior to the 1986 general election. The Return to Government The general election of 1986 was held six months earlier than expected because of the breakdown of the SPO-FPC) coalition. The election of J. Haider as the FPO'S party chairman signaled that the right (panGerman) wing of this party had succeeded over the liberal wing and the strategy of establishing the 1=pO as a governmental party was replaced by a populist strategy of protest. The spo immediately terminated the

coalition with the FPO. This decision was eased by the very good poll data for the party's top candidate. The spo in the election campaign consequently announced that no coalition with the current FPC3 leaders would be acceptable, and f a v o r e d a grand coalition with the Ovp instead (Luther, 1987). Following its strategy of the previous years, the Ovp demanded and promised a 'political turn' (Wende). However, the considerable convergence of the Ovp's and the SPY's policy proposals, resulting from the latter's reorientation, again made it difficult to see a clear alternative between the two main parties. Although some policy

measures were merely instrumental for the spo, for the Ova they were ends in themselves, the electorate did not make such fine distinctions. Moreover, during the electoral campaign a grand coalition was seen as an almost certain result by the media, which concentrated discussion

on this, rather than on the details of the parties' policy proposals- The GVP was therefore pressed into the role of a governing party during

the electoral campaign, while the FPO, although still in the caretaker government, succeeded in taking over the mantle of the opposition.

Conservarzlwn and the Austrian People Parry


For the 6vp, the policy convergence with the spO and the greater appeal of the top candidate of the latter, as well as the FP(3's populist strategy of protest, constituted a dilemma. A further problem, however, not solely affecting the Ovp, was the success of the 'greens' (environmentalists), who obtained parliamentary representation for the first time. Thus, the Ovp lost a considerable share of its vote and parliamentary seats in the 1986 election. Although the percentage difference between the spo and the Ovp was reduced, the Ovp became the party which most clearly missed its electoral target. It had not gained in electoral strength and the spo remained the strongest party. Nevertheless the Ovp returned to government as the junior partner to

the spo after seventeen years of opposition. The rest of this chapter will be devoted to three questions: 1. Why did the Ovp accept the role of junior partner to the spo, although an O V P F P 6 coalition was an alternative which obviously would have increased the ©VP's inttuence on

governmental policy? 2. How much of its neoconservative policy proposals will the Ovr be able to put into practice in the spot-ovp coalition and 3. What impact will the return to government under the prevailing conditions have on the Austrian People's Party?

Since 1945 the strongest party in Austria has never been excluded from government. This would have been seen as unfair, and the Ovp as the main loser of the 1986 general election lacked the legitimacy for such a move. Moreover, it was the Ovp which for years had argued for

a broadly based government. Another obstacle to a non-socialist coalition is rooted in the structure of the Austrian political system. Any truly neoliberal economic policy, whose introduction might be

possible in this type of coalition, would have to face the resistance of the Trade Union Federation. This, however, would put its success in question from the beginning. Such a policy would not be welcomed by the employers' associations and important parts of the Ov? itself- The employers are interested in a shift of power within social partnership rather than its destruction, while some sections of the Ovp have not really accepted the neoliberal policy proposals of their own party. When this chapter was written, the policy impact of the OVP, and in particular of neoconservatism, could only be considered on the basis of the rather detailed coalition agreement. In the future, this must be complemented by an analysis of its implementation, which, however, may lead to conclusions different from the ones which can be drawn now.

The immediate impact of the OVP on economic policy was modest, if one compares the coalition agreement with the ideological positions


The Transformation

of Contemporary


of the OVP on the one hand, and the pragmatic proposals launched by the spO before the 1986 general election on the other. However, as mentioned above, the


had already accepted a good deal of the

ijVP's economic policy suggestions before this election. Thus, the Ovp (and hence neoliberalisrn) indirectly had a substantial impact on the economic policy strategy of the grand coalition. The priority given to the reduction of the budgetary deficit had to affect the social policy proposals of the new government. In an atmosphere of retrenchment the rather conservative OVP proposals for expansive measures in this realm had little hope of acceptance. Thus, besides agreeing on some tax relief, the policy in favour of families will be restricted to symbolic measures, like inclusion of its legal status into the constitution. Other conservative positions did not become part of the coalition agreement. The same holds true for the Ovp°s goal to institutionalize more efficient instruments of direct democracy, and hence populist politics. Although an electoral reform is promised for the present term of government, the GVP has had to compromise considerably in this field. Notwithstanding the party's concessions, the negotiations concerning the detailed provisions have met with considerable opposition from important elements within the party. (incidentally, it is the FPO which

would profit most from such a reform) The result of the 1986 elections led to severe intra-party difficulties for the MVP's leadership, in particular because the party had entered the electoral campaign with a 2 per cent lead over the spy in the polls and still lost. However, party chairman Mock was not willing to accept personal responsibility for the outcome and a majority for an alternative candidate did not emerge. Thus the leadership question was not settled but became a constant feature of intra-party discussion. The same holds true for other personnel decisions which were made in favour of the neoconservative wing and tended to alienate the potential 'greens' within the party. An even more important strain on party cohesion has been the populist arguments used by the Ovp during its term in opposition. The Styrian party branch, for instance, has under the new government intensified its struggle against new interceptor aircraft, despite the fact that the new Minister of Defence, who has to execute the decision to buy these aircraft, belongs to the Ovp. In this context the Styrian~©VP (following the German CDU-CSU model)

seriously considered establishing an independent regional organizational structure. The most serious danger for the party's cohesion and strength, however, rests in its unfavourable strategic position: grand coalition government was this time reintroduced not to distribute benefits, but to impose cuts. While it is quite likely that it will be the SPO and its Chancellor who will initially be credited for any success this

Conservatism and the Auszrian Peopleiv Parry


government may have, it is also quite likely that core groups in both big parties will become alienated by the sacrifices they will have to bear. While there is no left alternative acceptable to, for example, the workers in nationalized industries, alienated members of the petty bourgeoisie and the farmers may quite easily switch over to the 1=pO

which is now concentrating its propaganda efforts on these groups. Summing up the more recent development of the Ovp, it can be said that since the mid-1970s the party attempted to gain a clear profile in opposition to the spO. In the 1980s the People's Party adopted the neoliberal economic policy proposals similar to its foreign sister parties, together with a new emphasis on moral conservatism. The neoliberal policy proposals, however, were given greater emphasis by the party. The 1980s provided the Ovp with the opportunity to appeal

to a majority of the voters. While it was quite successful in i n f l y encing the general trend in economic policy, in comparison with other conservative parties, the C)VP's proposals were generally moderate. Despite this, the Ovp was unable to improve its electoral performance and has become ajunior partner to the spo in a new coalition. While governmental participation may not improve its electoral performance, it is quite likely that, as in the past, it will lead to an increase of pragmatism at the cost of, now neoconservative, ideology.


The author would like to thank P. Diem, P. Gerlich, Chr. Haerpfer, F. Plasser, A. Stirnemann, E. Talos and K. Ucakar for useful comments.

References Aiginger, K. (1985) 'Die wirtschaftsprogrammatischen Vorsteilungen der GAP 1945 bis 19851 pp. 95-124 in Schwarz-burner Vogel. Wien: Junius. Chaloupek, G. (1985) 'The Austrian Parties and the Economic Crisis', Wes! European Po!z'rtlcs, 8 (I):71-81. Diem, P. (1976) 'Zur Strategic der GVP nach Schweden und Deutschland', Pofhtische

Perspekriven, (3-4):17-19. Duverger, M. (1964) Political Parties. London: Methuen. Gerlich, P. (1987) 'Consociationatism to Competition: The Austrian Party System since 1945; pp. 61-106 in H. Daalder (ed.), The Party Systems of Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Swftzerfand. London: Frances Pinter. Gerlich, P., E. Grande and W. C. miller (eds) (1985) SozMfpartnerscliafr in der Kruse. Leiszungen und Grenzen des Neokorporafhmus in éslerreich. Wien: Belau. Gerlich, P. and W. C. Ml81lcr (eds) (l983)Zwischen Koulirion undKonkur.r-enz. Osterreic/z

Parrefen see! 3945. Wien: Braumtiller. Gottweis, H. (1983) 'Zur Entwickiung der 6vp; Zwischen Interessenpolitik


118 The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism Massenintegration,' pp. 53-68 in P. Gerlich and W. C. Miiller (cos), Zwfschen Koalftion and Konkurrenz. Us rerreichs Parr eien see! 1945. Wien: Braumiiller. Greiffenhagen, M. (1977) Das Dilemma des Konservatismus in Deutschland. Mllinchen:

Piper, 2nd ed. Haerpfer, Chr. (1983) 'Nationalratswahlen und Wahlverhalten 1945-1980', pp. 111-49 in P. Gerlich and W. C. miller (eds), Zwischen Koalirion undKonkurrenz. ésterreichs Parreien set! $945. Wien: Braumiiller. Hélzl, N. (1974) Propagandaschlachten. Die Ovterrefckischen Wahlkéimpfe 1945-/97/. Wien: Verlag fir Geschichte und Politik. Horner, F. (1980) 'Strukturprobleme der 6vp - Ein Vergleich it der CDU', pp. 111-24 in J. Hijchtl (ecL), Akzenze - Argumcme - Alternatfven. Wien: Richter & Springer. Khoi, A. (1979) 'Zwischen Technokratie und Dcmokratie: Die Parteireform der OVP 1979/80', fjsterreiehischex Jahrbuch fzir Polziik 1979;435-68. Khol, A. (1984) 'Katholikentag und Papstbesuch 1983: Eine kritische Wiirdigung', (fsterrefchfsclzes Jahrbuchfiir Polifik 1984: 401-35. Khol, A. (1985) 'Vorbote des Kurswechseis? Das Zukunftsmanifest der ésterreichischen Volkspartei', (fsterreichisches Jahrbuchfur Polirik 1985: 207-56. Konecny, A.K. (1985) 'Mit der Zu k u r t sell man's sick nicht verderben!', Usterreichisehes Jahrbuchfdr Politik 1985, 257-68. Kriechbaumer, R. (1981) Cfsterreichs Tnnenpolitik 1970-/975. Wien: Verlag fur

Geschichte und Politik. Kukacka, H. (1984) 'Anpassung oder Abgrenzung?', ésterreichisches .fahrbuch fair

Polilik 1984: 151-62.

Luther,K.R. (1987) 'Austria's Future and Waldheim's Past: The Significance of the 1986 Elections', Wes! European Politics, 10: 376-99.

March, J. G. and J. P. Olsen (1975) 'The Uncertainty of the Past: Organizational Learning Under Ambiguity,' European Journal of Political Research, 3: 147-71. MUller, W. C. (1983) 'Parteien zwischen ijffentlichkeitsarbeit und Medienzwlingen', pp. 281-315 in P. Gerlich and W. C. Muller (eds) Zwischen Koalition and Konkurrenz. dsrerreichs Parteien see! $945. Wien: Braumiiller. MUller, W. C. (1984) 'Politische Kultur und Parteientransformation in 0sten'eich', ésterreichische Zeitschrtfdr Politikwissenschaft, 13: 53-76. miller, W. C. (1985) 'Die Rolls der Parteicn be Entstehung und Entwicklung der Sozialpartnerschaft', pp. 135-224 in P. Gerlich, E. Grande and W. C. Miller (eds), Sozialpartnerschaft in der Wien: B6hlau. Pelinka, A, (1983) 'Die Gsterreichische Volkspartei', pp. 195-265 in H. J. Veer (ed.), Christlich-demokratische und conservative Parteien in Westeuropa. Vol. 1. Paderbornl Sch6nin,h.

Plasser, F. (1986) 'Die Sozialprofile der Parteien I985`, Wien: mimeo. Plasser, F. (1987) Parteien enter StreB. Wien: B6h1au. Plasser, F. and A. Ulrarn (1982) 'Politischer Protest und politisehe Strategie



Volksbegehren gegen den Neubau des Internazionalen Konferenzzentrums in Wien', Cisterreichisches Jahrbuchfiér _Polin'k 1982: 23-41. Po¢'in'sches Lexfkon der 6vp. Wien, 1969. Reinhold, L. (1975) Geschichte der 6vp. Graz: Styria. Schilcher, B. (1971) 'Die neueren Méinner und die alto Partei', pp. 162-85 in A. Mock (ed.), Die Zukunf! der Volkspurtei. Eine krirfsche Selbstdarstellung. Wien: Malden. Sjéblorn, G. (1981) Notes on the Norton of 'Parry Adaprforf, Institute of Political Studies.

University of Copenhagen, Arbejdspapir 1981/3.

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Stangl, W. (1985) Die n e e GerechNgkeft. Strafrechtsreform in 0'.~rterrefch 1954-/975 Wien: Verlag fair Gesellschaftskritik. Stirnemann, A. (1969) In reressengegensarze and Gruppenbfldung fnnerhalév Der (isrerrei chechen Volksparzef, Forschungsbericht des Instituts fair Héhere Studier, No. 39 Wien. Stirnemann, A. (1980) 'Innerparteiliche Gruppenbildung am Beispiel der CAP (fsterrefchfsches Jahrbuch fair Pofitik 1980: 415-48 . Ulram, P. A. (1985) 'Um die Mehrheit der Mehr lm ', pp. 203-38 in F. Plasser, P. A Ulram and M. Welan (eds), Demokratferituafe. Wien: Biihlau. Wilflingcr, G. (1971) 'Parceistruktur und gesellschaftliches BewuI5tsein', pp. 228-42 in A. Mock (ed.), Die Zukunfr der Volksparlei. Eine krizische Selbstdarsteliung. Wien' Molder. Wilflinger, G. (1978) 'Die Idcologiediskussion in der Ostcrreichischen Volkspartei 1970-1978', §srerre:'chf.*:ches J'ahrbuch.f:2r Polfzfk 1978, 131-59.

7 Conservatism in Norway and Sweden Stir-Bjérn Ljunggren

Political Culture and the Party System in Norway and Sweden

Scandinavian poli.tical culture has been dominated since the 1920s by a social democratic ideology. Social democratic influence has been

unprecedented in comparative terms. Not only have the Social Democrats dominated the Left throughout the twentieth century, but they readily accepted the parliamentary road to socialism and acquired governmental power during the economic crisis of the 1930s. Its position as the main representative of the working classes has never been seriously questioned since then. Even if class voting is declining in

Norway and Sweden, as in the rest of Europe, it is still valid to conclude that social democracy not only dominates the political preferences of the labour force, it has also gained considerable influence among the middle class. This political culture has weakened the conservative alternatives to the social democrats. From the 1930s conservatives (and other parties on the Right) found it difficult to challenge the ideological hegemony of social democracy. This was compounded by the fragmented nature of the Right, a factor which allowed the Social Democrats to divide the opposition. The Social Democrats in Norway and Sweden (and in

Denmark) have normally been not only the largest party, but the distance between them and their nearest rival has usually been considerable (see Table 7.1). Despite recent successes for the Right (and for conservatism in particular) the strength of social democracy continues to constrain their advance. The welfare state retains its attraction and the Social Democrats have proved adaptable in the new (and often hostile) environment. In contrast to most other liberal democratic political systems, those of Norway and Sweden remain relatively impervious to the more radical expressions of neoconser~ vatism, although the conservatives have absorbed some of the themes now dominant among other conservative parties. Social .democratic dominance can be explained by several factors.

Firstly, the Social Democrats and the unions have worked closely together. This is an important factor, as union membership is

Conservatism in Norway and Sweden


widespread among workers as well as white-collar employees. A close working relationship with the unions allowed Social Democratic governments to implement policy without the fear of a trade union led revolt (as has regularly occurred in Britain). This is secured by maintaining full employment and the welfare state. This has also allowed the Social Democrats to claim successfully to represent the national interest. Alone among liberal democratic political systems Norway and Sweden can be said to have a political culture which is explicitly left-wing. Secondly, the Social Democrats, together with the radical bourgeoisie, established modern democracy in Sweden. They organized industrial society, brought the struggling forces of l a b o r and capital together, and thereby made it possible for an export industry to grow. Pragmatic industrial leaders soon learned that the representatives of the working class were prepared to compromise for the benefits of economic growth. This was important, especially since Swedish capitalism is heavily dependent on trade and exports in an open economic system. Thirdly, social democracy has attempted to become the bearer of a national tradition. This tradition does not make class struggle its main theme, nor does it attempt to create sharp ideological distinctions. Social differences are important for the Social Democrats, but solutions are to be found within the traditionally co-operative climate of Norway and Sweden. The system has acquired a high degree of legitimacy: voting turnout is very high indeed, political violence is rare, the ruled have rarely revolted against the rulers. Rapid industrialization occurred under relatively peaceful circumstances, while compromise is the usual method for resolving problems. It is therefore difficult for a political party to establish a critique which goes outside the system. A political alternative has to be built within this tradition of co-operation if it is to maintain electoral support. Fourthly, the Social Democrats established the modern welfare system, a system which has been both successful and popular. Thus, the political culture of Norway and Sweden is closely associated with the influence and history of social democracy. In an important sense the Social Democrats, more than

any other political party, have given a very precise meaning to national tradition in their respective societies, one that cannot be ignored by other parties. The Norwegian case differs somewhat from that of Sweden. For geographical and social reasons traditional left-right dimensions must be supplemented by a centre-periphery dimension. There are several contradictions peculiar to Norway that can be linked to the centreperiphery cleavage: questions of language, temperament and religious matters remain important. lt has always been difficult to travel in

Norway, and this 'geopolitical' factor should not be underestimated.


The Transformation

of Contemporary


The centre-periphery cleavage was a major contributory factor when the Norwegian electorate rejected a proposal to join the European Community. Religious issues also retain an importance in Norway which is no longer found in Sweden. The importance of the centreperiphery cleavage is also maintained by the periphery receiving a disproportionate share of the seats in parliament. As a consequence, parties from the centre, including the conservatives, tend to suffer from

this phenomenon. Another characteristic of the l920s remains valid. Social democracy is opposed by a non-socialist bloc consisting of three political tendencies, a right wing, liberals and agrarians. This picture has, however, changed more in Norway than in Sweden. In both countries , the conservatives today are stronger than they have been since the 1920s. But in Norway the conservatives are under pressure from a populist anti-tax party with neoliberal ideas to its right. This party has lost some of its strength during the recent election however, and has not obtained seats in the cabinet formed by the conservatives. In Norway also, the Christian Democrats have achieved a stable position within parliament, whereas their Swedish counterparts remain . marginalized. The Liberal Party has a great tradition dating back to the nineteenth century, when it was the main progressive force against the conservatives. Together with the growing Social Democratic Party, it challenged the conservative establishment and managed to develop

democracy under peaceful conditions. Without any self-evident roots in the electoral arena, being a party of ideas more than interests, it has had some difficulties establishing a stable electoral base. It has also experienced fluctuations in ideology and a tendency to split. In the 1982 Swedish elections, the Liberal Party received only 5.9 per cent of the vote, a reflection of the liberals' ineffective stand against the Social Democrats. In the 1985 elections, however, with a new chairman and a reconstructed profile influenced by neoliberal ideas it received 14.2 per cent, more than double the previous figure. In Norway, however, the Liberal Party did not manage to capture any seats at the 1985 parliamentary elections. On the other hand, the Christian Democrats are represented in the Norwegian parliament - and are part of the non-socialist bloc. In Sweden, the chairman of the Christian Democratic Party is also represented in parliament, after a coalition agreement with the Centre Party which enabled him to bypass the 4 per cent qualification threshold designed specifically to exclude small parties, such as the Christian Democrats, from parliament.

Since the 19205 agrarian parties have been influential in the party systems of Norway and Sweden, and have contributed to a political

Conservatism in Norway and Sweden


culture distinct from those elsewhere in Europe. The Conservative

parties in both countries were closely associated with industrial and urban interests and they did not meet the needs of the agricultural strata. Although often "conservative" in their views, agrarian voters had a set of priorities distinct from those of the conservatives themselves. By establishing 'farmer parties' they gained parliamentary seats during the 1920s, and co-operated with the Social Democrats in the 1930s, a political compromise that not only created the cornerstone of the welfare state, but also gave the agricultural classes a share of economic development. It is a common suggestion that this co-

operation between l a b o r and farmers made it possible for the Scandinavian political system to repel Fascism during the l930s: the legitimacy of parliamentary democracy was defended by this coalition as the welfare state developed. When the natural electoral ground for these agricultural parties

vanished, they managed to renew their support. In the 1950s, they changed their name to the Centre Party both in Norway and Sweden, while also modifying their ideology somewhat. The centre position was indeed important in Sweden where, during the 1950s, the party shared power with the Social Democrats. Agricultural conservatism remains an important part of the political ideology of the Centre Party in both countries. This has recently allowed them to participate as important sections of the non-socialist bloc. Table 7.1 summarizes the election results in Norway and Sweden

since the introduction of universal suffrage. The Social Democrats have dominated the political scene since the 1930s when, in the shadow of the economic and political crises, they successfully co-operated with the Centre Party. This co-operation stabilized the economy through a worker~farmer alliance which

generated benefits for both groups. It also established the Social Democrats as a responsible party of power and as the party responsible for looking after the interests of the common man. Before this period, a total of over twenty different minority cabinets had been

formed in Norway and Sweden. After 1930, Social Democratic

dominance is evident: only in coalitions during the war was there any co-operation between Social Democrats and Conservatives, and only in Sweden is the picture of a two-bloc system modified when the Centre Party took part in the Elander cabinet for seven years during the l950s

There have been three main phases of electoral support for conservatism since the introduction of universal suffrage. The first phase is characterized by decline in both countries, reaching a n all-

time low a t the end of the 19405. The second phase begins during the 1950s when both parties begin to attract increased support. The


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124 The Transformation of Contemporary Conservarfsm

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Conservatism in Norway and Sweden



126 The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

outcome differed for each party. In Sweden the conservative advance was temporary, by 1970 the party slumped to 11.5 per cent, the lowest rate it had received during the twentieth century. The Norwegian

experience was less volatile, but as a result of its advances the Conservative Party participated in the short-lived non-socialist government in 1963, the first since 1935. In subsequent elections the political dominance of the Labour Party was eroded, although this did not lead to more than a slight advance for the Conservative Party. By 1973 the Norwegian party appeared to share the setback which had

been experienced by the Swedish conservatives, the Conservative share of the vote fell to its 1945 level. This was not due to the revival of the Labour Party, but to the emergence of an anti-tax party which attracted conservative voters and to confusion over the referendum on the European Community. The third distinct phase for conservatism begins a f t e r these setbacks with the emergence of a hoyrebfdge or hdgervag (meaning 'Right Wave'). The conservatives received a share of the vote not equaled since the 1920s, and even if the latest elections meant that the hoyrebolge slowed in both countries, the conservative position is still historically quite unique (see Table 7. 1). What is the electoral base of the two Conservative parties? Petersson

(1984) concludes that conservative voters have high income and wealth, are well educated, and have leading positions in enterprises and administration. But they have never been a party consisting only of the Establishment. As Berglund and LindstrOm (1978:62) point out , the power elites in Scandinavia have never been consistently and

deeply involved in politics, and they conclude that 'Whatever they were, the Conservative parties in Scandinavia never stood out as the

true spokesmen of the noblesse . . . the objective conditions were not at hand.' Today the conservatives have gained votes mainly at the expense of the other non-socialist parties. But there has also been some defection from the working-class parties, which is uncommon in Norway and Sweden, with a long tradition of class voting. It is mainly a Norwegian phenomenon, and those workers that move to the conservatives are often those who do not belong to unions. There has also been a change in gender voting, formerly more women than men voted Conservative.

This has now changed. Support for the conservative parties is also closely associated with an individual's location within the labour market, more specifically whether the source of employment is within the private or the public sector. Finally, in Norway the Right Wave tends to reflect a generation gap, with the young supporting the conservatives to a large extent.

Conservatism in Norway and Sweden


What is Conservatism?

So far the concept 'conservatism' has been used to identify a specific political party: in Norway Hoyre (The Right) and in Sweden Moderata Samlingspartiet (The Moderate Coalition Party, a name adopted after the electoral fiasco in 1970 to remove the image of being a 'Right Party'). The reason for this is that these are the only political parties in Norway and Sweden that openly uphold the conservative tradition. However, it is important to note that a conservative tradition can also be traced in at least three other parties, the Centre Party, the Christian Democrats, and the Green Party. The Centre Party has its roots in the agricultural class and was formed by the farmers'

associations in the early 1920s (1920 in Norway, 1922 in Sweden). In ideological terms these parties were sceptical about industrial society and Urbanism. Their pronounced nationalism led to protectionist sentiments such as 'Buy Swedish'. This agricultural conservatism, or 'cultural conservation', as Jonnergard (1985) prefers to call it, remains influential, but it is now skilfully combined with a decentralization policy. This involves a stress on regional balance and the necessity for an interventionist state to assure this. The responsibility of today's generation to those who will follow in later years is discussed in the Centre Party manifesto, and its ideological roots in Christianity, humanism and ecological holism are outlined as alternatives to the old

ideologies of the eighteenth century. The Centre Party does support a market economy, or rather a social market economy, and a middle road between individualism and collectivism. It does not share the sceptical viewpoint on state regulation promoted by the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, especially if their own group is f a v o r e d amongst farmers and in remote areas.

The origins of the Centre Party can be traced directly to the same parliamentary groups which formed the Conservative Party, and up to this day the Conservatives have this agricultural flank to consider. The roots are, so to speak, shared between the Conservatives and the Centre. For both parties the relationship is more an ideological than an

historical one. In the case of the Christian Democrats and the Green Party, the conservative element is not as clearly evident. The Christian Democratic Party supports state intervention which gives the traditional family a central place in policy considerations and it is opposed to liberal abortion laws and other modern phenomena considered by a majority of the electorate to be matters for individual conscience. A typical conservative idea, the 'trustee-thought', is used

by the Swedish Christian Democrats to describe the mission from the Creator that has been given to the human race. The party manifesto


The Transfor.*natz'on Qf Contemporary Conservatism

also supports environmentalism and advocates 8. positive approach to the 'mixed economy'. The Green Party has a populist tendency expressing a typical conservative distrust of the established political parties, and is opposed to the development of cities and the erection of industrial centres. They also accept a strong interventionist state. Protectionism is favoured, economic growth is not. One area that falls outside the conservative tradition is the pacifism represented by the Greens. These conservative elements will not be the main focus of this study. It should be noted, however, that the Centre Party, more than the Christian Democrats and the Greens, has maintained and developed a conservative tradition. One can conclude that in

environmentalism these three parties have found a way to modernize some important conservative elements. Those elements were to a great extent dropped by the Conservative Party in favour of neoliberalism. The paternalism and protectionism within the old agricultural

conservative tradition gave way to a modern view of the economy, individuals and industry; and here liberalism played an important role by complementing the Conservative Party doctrine which developed during the 1930s. There is therefore a conservative as well as a social democratic political culture in both Norway and Sweden. What is significant is that the national political culture in each state has been influenced by social democracy rather than by conservatism, notwithstanding strong conservative attitudes in many parties- These traits have not been

transferred into politically salient themes to redirect the culture. It is also important to distinguish the conservatism of the Centre, the Christian Democratic, and the Green parties from the neoconservatism of the conservative parties (and their liberal allies). One distinguishing feature of contemporary conservatism has been the extent to which there has been a fusion between conservatism and liberalism. But how has the main conservative inheritance been developed by the Norwegian Hoyle and the Swedish Moderata Samlingspartiet? The thesis put forward here is that, since the end of the 1930s, they have H

I e := =.



upheld a party doctrine consisting of a mixture of traditional state interventionist and market economic individualism, a liberal-conservative cocktail. This party doctrine enables the Conservative Party `Not only t`o'support the development of the welfare state, but also to criticize and even tear down parts of it. This doctrine, however, restricts the ability of the conservatives to take the political offensive.

Conservatism in Scandinavia reflects its essentially defensive nature, a response to the strongest social democratic parties in the world.

These parties have also found it difficult to develop a powerful parastate organization to combat that of the socialists. As such, it

Conservatism in Norway and Sweden


has lacked some of the ideological components that are necessary in a 'mass society'. Therefore, it might be suggested that the Conservative Party's chances of dominating the political scene in the future are limitedThe Period 01' Decline: 1920-45

When the Conservative parties were formed (1884 in Norway, and 1904 in Sweden) their objective was to defend the parliamentary and

political interests of the Establishment. The threat came from the developing socialism of the working classes and the radicals in the middle class. The Conservative Party has its roots in parliament, the formation of a political party was, from the outset, seen as the only way of preventing a wave of revolution and destruction. Conservatives found it difficult to accept the necessity for a political

party, and it was even more difficult to take part in the democratization of political life. The Conservatives in both Norway and Sweden did both, but tried at the same time to maximize their own interests by accepting, and even initiating, tactical reforms of the voting system. Lewin (1984) discusses how the Conservatives in Sweden met the

radical threat with a pragmatic tactic, those who had fought for universal suffrage were so surprised by the sudden change among the Conservatives that they voted against its introduction, since the Conservatives had managed to give more weight to their own section of the electorate. This was the first phase in the adaptation of conservatism in Norway and Sweden: resistance against parliarnentarism and democracy. When they understood that the battle was lost, a further adaptation was made. Although the conservatives retained their suspicion of party

politics at a theoretical level, their political practice allowed them to survive the transition to mass democracy. And here we can observe a second phase: resistance to socialism. Not only were the Conservatives confronted with an electorate demanding political and organizational rights, but also social reforms and improved incomes. The very basis of traditional society was questioned by socialism and later the growth of communism. As a consequence earlier enemies among non-socialists (such as the Liberals) became potential allies. In the 1920s different minority governments came and went. At the same time economic crises necessitated government action. The Conservatives had, as pointed out by Berglund and LindstrOm (1978) and Lewin (1984), accepted liberal economic ideas, but did not hesitate to use state intervention where necessary. They introduced some social reforms, nationalized enterprises, and finally modernized their party organizations to be fit for the struggle in the electoral arena. The


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

conservatives in both countries gradually accepted that parliament rather than the monarchy should be the centre of power in the state, This adaptation did not ensure their political dominance. The initiative moved to the Social Democrats and, especially in Norway, the 1920s was characterized by the electoral and political decline of the Conservatives. In Sweden the losses were not as serious, and the Lind r a n cabinet between 1928 and 1930 was the last 'pure' Conservative cabinet in the whole of Scandinavia until Willoch took over the Norwegian government in 1981. It was the last cabinet to be dominated by the old conservatism. In the 1930s two important events occurred. Firstly, the era of Social

Democratic dominance was instituted: in 1932 Per-Albin Hansson in Sweden formed a cabinet and, with the exception of a few weeks in 1936, the Social Democrats remained in office until 1976. In Norway, Nygaardsvold formed a cabinet, here also, with the exception of a few weeks in 1963, there was an uninterrupted Social Democratic regime until 1965. Both these cabinets were initiated in close co-operation with the Centre Party. The second feature is that the growth of National Socialism, with its distrust of parliarnentarism and the undermining of established political institutions, was neutralized. Facing these new political forces, the Conservatives in both Norway and Sweden defended democracy and the market economy. The Swedish Conservatives lost their youth league as a result of this, and even if the party initially hesitated, the reaction of Arvid Lindrnan, the prime motor of the Swedish Conservatives, probably was common: what the Nazis proposed was - socialism! This was an important step taken by the Conservatives, it did not 'pay off' in the 1930s, but it made it possible

for the Conservatives, during and after the war, to remain within the democratic system, unlike many conservative parties elsewhere in Europe. By the end of the 1930s the Conservatives had developed a party

doctrine which included elements of both liberalism and conservatism.

The decades to come would draw these elements together to develop a set of ideological principles that would interact politically, though not necessarily consistently. It is important to remember that the conservative parties were formed as 'anti' movements. For several decades they lacked a positive programme, in theory as well as practice. Conservatism does not give ideological guidelines, and liberalism is not much better. This remains the unsolved problem for conservatism: to establish a set of principles that give advice on goals and means, while at the same time remaining conservative. To many

conservatives the construction of such a programme was against the meaning and spirit of conservatism.

Conservatism in Norway and Sweden


Adaptation to the Welfare State: 1945-70

After the war the Conservatives had no opportunity to use their

pre-war political standpoints, it was true that they had stressed more than other parties the necessity for strong deface, and that social democracy had skimped on deface spending. Though the leader of the

Norwegian Conservative Party, C..T. Han bro, became a national hero by saving the government and Royal Family from falling into the hands of the Germans, it did not prove possible to challenge social democracy. Social reform was politically popular, one objective of which was rising living standards. Sweden was particularly lucky in that its neutrality during the war allowed it to maintain its industrial base intact and to recover quickly thereafter. The post-war optimism and the decline in electoral support forced the Conservatives in both countries to support the principles of the welfare state, in particular, the principle that the state had a responsibility to ensure the welfare of all members of society. The Conservatives had, at an early stage, accepted some welfare reforms to increase the birth rate, and to provide better schooling, housing, and social security. But now these reforms seemed quite fragmentary, what had originally been an intention to help the worse off now became a matter of including the whole population in a welfare system, where the state had the main responsibility. After the Second World War, both parties had to develop a new approach to the principles of the welfare state. In Sweden it was the young generation of students who joined the Conservatives at the beginning of the 1940s who demanded conservative support for the welfare state. After a clash with the old right wing, a compromise was agreed. The Conservatives now supported the principle that it would be the responsibility of the state to increase the

living standards of all members of society, but this was complemented by demands for the careful financing of reforms, so as not to erode incentives and promote egalitarianism. This party line enabled the Swedish Conservatives to severely criticize the social democratic proposals after the war, but also made it possible for them to escape the accusation of being against social reform and welfare policy in principle. In Norway, by contrast, the idea of a welfare programme was first discussed by the government in exile in London. A programme

(Fellesprogrammet) was prepared, with the Norwegian Hag on the cover, a foreword by the King himself, and a postscript added by one of the leading figures of the 'home front'. The content was a demand for extensive state intervention to rebuild Norway. As has been pointed

out by Sejersted (1984) the Conservatives never approved of this programme, but concluded that it was impossible to break the


The Transformation

of Contemporary


co-operative spirit that peace had created. In addition, the conservatives believed, it was necessary to accept an interventionist state to reconstruct the country, once this did not involve a generalized commitment to socialization. The Conservatives feared that the Social Democrats were going to make permanent the extraordinary powers given to the state in a time of despair. The choice was to keep a low profile, and thereby Norway never experienced the intense debate over post~war policies which occurred in Sweden. In 1946 the Norwegian Conservatives demanded that the policy of state direction of the economy should be abolished. The alternative was not a pure market economy, but a more careful use of legislation.

According to Sejersted (1984), the Norwegian conservatives criticized

the nature of state intervention because it was opposed to the legislative independence which the executive had acquired. Not only did this reduce parliament's influence, but they maintained it was an ineffective way of controlling the economy. These criticisms, though often repeated, did not become matters of principle. The Conservatives feared that they would become identified as the party of capital, and that such a n association would isolate them politically. The party, therefore, criticized all proposals for a planned economy, irrespective of whether the planning would be directed by socialists or finance capital. This led to the conservatives accepting the principles of the welfare state and a modest degree of regulation. As a consequence the

main framework of the post-war policy was accepted by the Conservatives. The economy was liberalized during the 1950s. Regulations disappeared, state control diminished and there was a return to 'normalityi In both Sweden and Norway this was seen as a setback for social democracy. The Conservatives expanded their electoral support

during the I950s: in Norway the increase was from 17.7 per cent in 1949 to 20.0 per cent in 1961, in Sweden from 12.3 per cent in 1948 to 19.5

per cent in 1958. This resulted from a political programme which was influenced by the ideas of a property-owning democracy put forward by British Conservatives. The idea of individuals becoming 'small

capitalists' through their own efforts with the assistance of an encouraging state, provided an alternative to the welfare state as it was propounded by the Social Democrats. When society became richer, the Conservatives believed, taxes should not be raised but incentives created so that everybody becomes involved in saving, starting a small company, building a house or summer cabin. The objective of a welfare policy should enable the individual to acquire a small fortune of his own. Ownership was seen as the most effective social policy. Two

arguments were central for this idea: it was good for the economy, for investment, savings and production. But it also could increase

Conservatism in Norway and Sweden


harmony and co-operation, while reducing mistrust. It is difficult to assess whether the idea of a property-owning democracy was liberal or conservative. It might be considered a liberal means to a conservative goal. The idea of a property-owning democracy had the potential to give the welfare state a market liberal design, and it was the only idea with such potential that the Conservatives put forward during the period from 1945 to 1970. But it did not achieve the impetus necessary to challenge the hegemony of the Social Democrats, since taxes could be

raised at this time without affecting living standards- Taxes could be raised, and houses too. By the end of the 1950s the non-socialist bloc grew more united. The Conservatives thereby gained an incentive not to adopt a high profile , since this could disturb the co-operation. To ensure co-operation, and to assure their potential allies, the Conservatives maintained a commitment to the welfare state. To create an alternative to social democracy it was necessary for the Conservatives to compromise with the more radical parts of the non-socialist bloc. This always threatens the integrity of the party, for the price of adjustment could be internal problems with two factions struggling against each other. In both Norway and Sweden there has been continuous tension between 'hardliners' and 'coalition builders' on how best to create an alternative. But the main reason for the Conservative acceptance of the Social Democratic welfare state was its success. At the beginning of the 19605

there was reason to believe that the Good Society could be achieved. The Norwegian as well as the Swedish Conservatives thought that with continuous economic growth, with modern science, and with new technologies such as computer systems and energy resources, social engineering would stimulate an increase in material standards of an unprecedented kind. Many of these proposals can be considered 'utopian', a case in point being those arising from the conservative programme committee in Sweden during the 1960s. This process did

not mark the end of ideology, more a melting together, a pronounced feature of many political systems at the time (Sejersted, 1984). Many policy areas became matters for administration rather than for political confrontation. Public debate centred on which party bloc could most adequately achieve the objectives of the welfare state. Consequently, the distance between the Conservatives and the Social Democrats narrowed appreciably. This is evident in the Swedish

Conservatives' 1969 programme. Nor did the non-socialist govern=...= merits in Norway between 1965 and 1973 make any funds mental changes in policy. At the end of the 1960s, the Conservatives were involved, either directly or indirectly, in seeking opportunities to


The Transformation

of Contemporary


develop and expand the welfare state rather than to restrict it. Some critical views might remain, but the Conservative opposition to state interventionism and welfare reform was no longer obvious. Consensus became the dominant motif. Strong similarities can be drawn between this form of 'technocratic conservatism' and expressions of it elsewhere in Europe. The strength of the Social Democratic consensus was such that conservative parties could not entertain a policy outside this context. The opportunity to do so only occurred in Norway and Sweden, as elsewhere, during the 1970s. The Way to the Top: 1970-85

During the early I 970s this consensus began to unravel. In 1970 the Norwegian as well as the Swedish Conservatives changed chairmen, both men were to give expression to the emerging resistance to the

welfare state. The Norwegian Kare Willoch was at times almost alone in criticizing state intervention, but in time began to receive support. A number of factors contributed to increased political confrontation in Norway, firstly, there was increased criticism of the growing state sector, secondly, expectations were raised by the oil find, thirdly, there was increased scepticism about industrial society, fourthly, there were the renewed socialistic ambitions of social democracy, fifthly, an economic crisis during the 1970s encouraged a questioning of the social democratic assumption that the expansion of welfare could be funded from the receipts of economic expansion. The economic

downturn broke this linkage. In Sweden the new chairman, Gusta Bohr an, also encountered a favourable environment. The growing criticism against the welfare system was directed specifically against the Social Democrats. The

Swedish Conservatives, unlike their Norwegian counterparts, had not participated in a government for many decades, and could benefit from the public criticism of socialist policy particularly in the area of taxation. The Conservative proposals to reduce taxation were designed to attract upper middle-class voters. This policy however also received support from lower income groups, since they also experienced an increased tax burden. In addition, when the Labour Organization and Social Democrats introduced a proposal for wage-earner funds which

would enable the unions to take over privately owned companies, the Conservatives found an issue which set the political agenda for years to come. In Norway no such proposal was made: the Norwegian Social Democrats settled for traditional state socialist ideas when discussing economic democracy. . Gusta Bohr an gave the Swedish Conservatives a highly ideological profile. In books and speeches he demanded a 'liberal revolt', two

Conservatism in Norway and Sweden


concepts hitherto seldom used by Conservatives. The Liberal Party was furious to hear Bohtnan declaring that the Conservatives were the party most capable of representing the liberal tradition. When a new programme of principles was drawn up in 1978 the Conservatives, for the first time, stated that liberalism was one of the ideological fundamentals of the party doctrine, together with conservatism. This open declaration is as readily apparent in the manifestos of the Norwegian Conservatives. The Conservatives' prospects appeared very good in Sweden in 1976. The Social Democrats had been weakened by divisions within "the party over nuclear power, by scandals, and by opposition to the wage~earner funds. Thus when they narrowly lost power, a nonsocialist government was formed for the first time since 1932. Despite considerable optimism at first, this government encountered major difficulties, not least being a lack of cabinet unity. The voters did, however, give the non-socialist bloc another opportunity in 1979, but once again, the alternative proved to be unworkable. Even worse, more enterprises were socialized during these years than had ever occurred under the Social Democrats. The total government expenditure as a percentage of GDP also increased quite rapidly during the years of the Swedish non-socialist governments. Since the Social Democrats regained power this trend has been reversed. Sejersted

(1984:253) draws the same conclusion for the Norwegian case. During the non-socialist governments 1965-73 the public share of the national income increased more rapidly than under social democracy. The difference in output cannot be explained by ideology alone. The fragmentation of the non-socialist government, its lack of unity within cabinet, and different perceptions of interest made agreement all the more difficult. Decisions were based on compromise which tended to

value the point of least disagreement. The non-socialist government was probably also unfortunate in being in power during the early years of a recession, when a new policy framework for such an eventuality was simply not available.

To explain the Right Wave in Norway, Sejersted (1984) emphasizes the radicalization of the Social Democrats during the 19705. The economic crisis and the criticism directed against the welfare state also gave the Conservatives an opportunity to become a 'people's party'. It allowed them, in addition, to defend a modest social engineering against the radical ambitions of the socialists. The Norwegian Conservatives were never as deeply influenced by neoliberal ideology as their Swedish counterparts. This can be explained by the emergence of a tax-protest party to the right of the conservatives. The Progress Party or 'Anders Lange's party for a strong decrease of taxes and

public spending', as it was at first named, is where neoliberalism is


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

most strongly represented. The more modest suggestions adapted by the Conservatives from the neoliberal doctrine proved acceptable to many voters, since they were a part of the tradition, and would not cause alarm amongst those with more traditional conservative

opinions. Again, the Conservatives had shown caution in reformulating their political doctrine, a balance between the conservative and liberal elements, a balance between interventionism and market

economy, freedom within the framework of tradition. The balance achieved was politically realistic, and reflected the limits of neoliberalism within the society. During the 1970s there was a shift to the right in Norwegian and Swedish public opinion. The message from the electorate remains ambiguous however: during the Norwegian general election in 1985 the Social Democrats received support for their welfare policies, while the Conservatives were rated highly on foreign policy and deface. During the Conservative-dominated governments in Norway between 1981 and 1986 there were improvements in the economy (in particular lower inflation), and a decline in unemployment.The Conservatives also managed to deregulate areas of housing and broadcasting, and also implement tax reliefs. But these changes were not the main issues during the election campaign, the Social Democrats, as in Sweden, successfully placed welfare at the top of the agenda. Pensions and hospital queues rather than neoliberal issues were central (Kuhnle et al., 1986: 466-7). On some issues the Swedish electorate has moved to the right, but when confronted with social policy questions it has

moved somewhat to the left (Holmberg and Gill jar, 19871316)- What remains important in Norway and Sweden is that, despite the shift to the right, traditional social democratic concerns remain salient. Thus, the Norwegian Conservatives did not pursue a radical neoliberal strategy, tacitly acknowledging the environment within which they had to compete (Kuhnle et al., 1986). In the Swedish case, the same conclusion is generally valid, but there neoliberalism remains stronger. There has even been an attempt to reforinulate the traditional welfare policies in this context, an attempt that has not, however, been rigorously promoted. Although distinctions can be drawn between the relative radicalism of the Norwegian and Swedish forms of conservatism, both parties have encountered effective opposition from the social democrats. The Left has continued to give priority to its traditional concerns, a priority endorsed by the electorate in 1985 when both conservative parties experienced a decline in their vote for the first time in fifteen years (in Sweden a drop of2.3 per cent and a loss of ten seats , in Norway 1.4 per cent and a loss of three seats).

It seems that the electorate in both countries are selective on policy questions, favouring tax relief and continued welfare. Depending on

Conservatism in Norway and Sweden


the primacy given to one or other area there could be a slight fluctuation from election to election with unforeseen consequences. The principles of the welfare state would not be altered by the Conservatives, but traditional reforms could be implemented by neoliberal means. Under these circumstances neoliberalism could be

advanced in a very cautious fashion. Liberal-Conservatism and the Welfare System in the 1980s

Socioeconomic questions remain the most salient elements of conservative appeal in Scandinavia. During the 1970s, the Swedish Conservatives successfully promoted a set of policy priorities which paid off in the elections, firstly, they successfully resisted any compromise with the social democratic proposal for wage-earners' funds, secondly, they maintained a high profile on taxation, which was becoming a central problem for the growing middle class and sections of the working class. The bureaucracy caused by the immense growth of the public sector and increasing frustration among ordinary citizens with the i-ntrusiveness of the state, were other factors exploited by the Swedish Conservatives. In addition, the Social Democrats suffered from their long-term association with the welfare state. Having benefited from its success, they now were blamed for its defects. The Conservatives benefited from their criticism of state regulation and trade union power, and from their advocacy of low taxationConservative ideology for the first time appeared to 'fit' the changing circumstances, criticism which would have attracted odium in the 19605 now appeared more than justified by events. Gusta Bohr an skilfully used the results of international scientific research to justify his party's policy on taxation, private ownership and

cutbacks in the public sector. The wealth of the Western world was due, he argued, to private property, the market economy and freedom, capitalism was a necessary condition for democracy. Bohman's aspiration was to fuse liberalism and conservatism. This had been a party tradition since the days of the great Arvid Lind ran. According to Bohr an, the concepts of independence and individual freedom, that is to say 'liberalism', were the basis for Western civilization, and these concepts were also the core of the Conservatives' party doctrine. He denied that this meant laissez-faire, certain social questions remained the concern of the state. The Conservatives' economic-

ideological profile can be labeled 'neoliberalisln'. The current party leader of the Swedish Conservatives, Carl Bildt, son-in-law to Gusta Bohr ran, has stated that Conservatism or Liberalism in isolation have

no strength, this is achieved only when they are combined. Thereby they complement each other.


The Transformation

of Contemporary


The neoliberal tendency consists of four main standpoints: 1. Democracy and capitalism are inseparable, 2. The current economic crisis is the result of unnecessary state mtervention,

3. Individuals have a right to their property even fit clashes with the 'public irlterest', 4. Certain constitutional changes must be made to ensure individual freedom and democracy.

One typical Bohr an statement was, 'it is not a question of a crisis of capitalism

. . . but rather

of a crisis of political democracy'.

Bohr a n believed that a fundamental social security, 'social solidarity', was necessary to balance the individualism advocated by the extreme liberals. What differentiated the Conservatives from the others was how they, the 'collectivists', wanted to achieve their goals. The difference was the road to welfare. This was the traditional party doctrine presented by Bohr an, they did not object to the principle of a welfare system as such but to its cost, the overambitious nature of the system and its egalitarian goals. The Conservatives also opposed the

dominance of collectivism as a solution to all problems: there should be greater opportunities for personal choice among individuals or families. The objective of the Swedish Conservatives was to develop an acceptable mix between individualism and the state. 'I am a liberal', declared Bohr an, 'in its correct meaning', and maintained that 'the alternative to planned economy and stagnation lies in the fusion between conservative principles of a law-governed

society and liberal ideas on the freedom of the individuaL' The state was still responsible for the welfare of its citizens, but this was to be

achieved through reducing the public sector, securing private ownership, the lowering of taxes and increasing individual freedom. The Conservative chairman warned that the increase in state regulation would threaten the foundations of society. Although the criticism was a serious one, it was not, as yet, a complete rejection of the welfare system but a strict criticism of state intervention. During the 1970s Bohr an and the Conservatives coined a number ofkeyphrases to illustrate the new trend, 'the new individualism' stood for increased private freedom and choice, and a reduction in public involvement, 'the new insecurity' symbolized the feeling of powerlessness amongst individuals, a result of the welfare system, the exaggerated state paternalism led to 'learned helplessness', the loss of the individual's ability to use his or her own initiativeThese far-reaching liberal suggestions did not influence or intrude

upon important conservative standpoints, for instance, the desire for a

Conservatism in Norway and Sweden


strong national deface, developed relations with Western Europe, and an elite educational system and greater support for privatized family policy. Neither did it cause any major conflict in the party over 'liberalism' or otherwise. A programme discussion took place among the Swedish Conservatives at the beginning of the 1980s, and the proposals made by the committee in 1983 aroused strong criticism both within and outside the party. The 'outsiders' claimed that the Conservatives had lost their traditional conservative ideals. Also, 'insiders' demonstrated great uneasiness with the formulation of the proposals. The reason given for this opinion was that the programme suggestions were heavily influenced by individualistic considerations, reflected in the frequent use throughout the document of 'the individual' and 'private person'. An important proposal made in this text was the distinction between 'welfare state' and 'welfare society? According to the proposal the welfare state was a phenomenon which dominated all walks of life, and therefore destroyed the natural safety net erected by individuals and groups of individuals (family, relatives, neighbours). If this welfare state was to be allowed to continue its dominance then all forms of natural and spontaneous co-operation would be crippled. During periods of, for example, economic depression the state would not be able to meet the expectations and responsibilities created during prosperous years. The individuals would subsequently suffer, since the private secto1°'s capacity to ensure individual welfare would be, at best, severely impaired. The proposal also stated that the welfare state threatened the 'open society', and via its abuse of the welfare system was opening the road to serfdom. Between the lines of these programme suggestions it is clear that the committee regarded the Swedish welfare system as synonymous with the described welfare state, that is, Sweden was moving towards totalitarianism. As an alternative to the 'welfare state', the programme committee advocated the 'welfare society'. Within this society, private institutions such as charities, private enterprises, families, and different sorts of voluntary help organization would form a 'natural' safety net working in harmony with the state. This natural safety net would relieve the burden on the state, thereby lowering taxes, providing opportunities

for entrepreneurship and private incentive. The quality of social institutions would be much improved as well as being more effective. The distinction between welfare society and welfare state, which was an attempt to give a total neoliberal alternative to the existing system, was abolished. This can be described as a defeat for those who wanted

to 'liberalize' the party once and for all. Instead, the traditional party doctrine, with its cautious balancing between a state-directed welfare


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

system and an individualistic, market liberal profile was upheld. It is interesting to note that the new chairmanof the Swedish Conservatives, Carl Bildt, believes that this change was unfortunate. The Norwegian criticism of the welfare state was less radical than in Sweden. There was no strong tendency within the party which proposed formulations that were, or could be interpreted as, fundamental criticism of the welfare ofits citizens. This is important to note, since the Norwegian Conservatives have, as described earlier, a 'leak' on their right wing. It is here that we can find the neoliberals in

Norwegian politics. Due to the electoral system, such a tendency does not have to struggle in a traditional political party, since Norway lacks the 4 per cent qualification line that Sweden has. This is one reason why Swedish neoliberals, and libertarians, still hesitate to 'start out on

their own'. If the Swedish Conservatives promote a more radical policy on economic issues, the Norwegian Conservatives tend to promote a more

traditional view on moral issues. Because of the strong moral dimension in Norwegian politics, the Conservatives have to consider the questions of abortion, language, religion and alcohol policy in a somewhat different way than in Sweden. In contrast to the consensus in Sweden, abortion policy is still a controversial subject in Norway. The Conservatives have failed to take a firm standpoint, and in their programme they have, after opposing the liberal laws implemented by the Social Democrats, concluded that the question should be left to every citizen to decide after his or her own conscience. This has caused difficulties for the Conservatives, because the Christian People's Party, which opposed the abortion laws, was reluctant to join a non-socialist government as a result of this decision. As a consequence the

Conservatives governed in a minority capacity until 1983 when a broad centre-right cabinet took office.

There is a greater emphasis among Norwegian Conservatives on the role of the family than one finds among its Swedish counterparts. While the Swedish Conservatives take the individual as the main focus for political action, Hoyles (1985) emphasizes home and family as 'central parts of the foundation that our society rests upon'. This must be seen partly as a semantic difference, both parties blend individualism with traditional conservative support for the family in their programme. In the Norwegian case, however, the latter does play a more important role. This view has been strongly reaffirmed by J.P. Syse, the parliamentary leader of the Norwegian Conservatives: It is too narrow to say that conservatism emphasizes the individual. What we emphasize, is rather the family, the family and the motherland. We emphasize the individual's place in the community.

Conservatism in Norway and Sweden


While the welfare state is not rejected, there is a strong emphasis on intermediary structures such as the family. From this it can be concluded that the Norwegian Conservatives place greater emphasis on the connection between moral and welfare policy. Even if the Swedish Conservatives also subscribe to the opinion that the family is important as the foundation of society, they also promote more

vigorous neoliberal, secular and individualistic traits in the party programme. Norwegian Conservatives talk about 'the individual's place in the community', but it is difficult to find such a statement made by leading Swedish Conservatives. Among Swedish Conservatives there has been a slow but effective secularization. The latest offensive to transform the party into a Christian-Democratic movement was rejected in the l950s, and some of the opposition took part in the formation of the Christian Democratic Party. According to the Swedish Conservative Party programme, the individual is the cornerstone of society. But, the programme states, the individual can get his or her desire for company, solidarity and human contact best satisfied within the traditional family. A selfish, optimal choice for the individual would consequently mean an ordinary family life. Even if individuals are given total freedom, they will behave in a way which obtains acceptable results, if the state doesn't erode the natural traditional institutions that constitute society. The family is also a way of diminishing the importance of state-administered safety nets since the family, relatives and neighbors function as a natural

insurance against individual problems. The paradox here is outlined: the family has traditionally been an important part of a conservative, paternalistic and pre-democratic society, here, suddenly, the existence

of the family can be turned against the state, against the established welfare system dominated by the public sector.

Norway has not enjoyed national independence for very long. It was in 1905 that the union with Sweden was dismantled. Unlike Sweden, Norway was occupied during the Second World War and this increased nationalism. That difference can also be seen between the two Conservative Parties. Historically the Norwegian Conservatives defended the union with Sweden, and thus in was left to the Liberal Party to take the political role as representatives of national independence. This also became apparent during the debate on Norwegian membership of the Common Market when the Conservatives chose to support membership, even though this ran counter to the very strong nationalist sentiments among their supporters. The Conservatives have not, unlike the Social Democrats, been divided on Norwegian membership of NATO.

In contrast to Norway, Sweden is not particularly chauvinistic. The Swedish Conservatives restrict their nationalism to symbolic gestures,



The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

like putting the Swedish blue-and-yellow flag on the cover of their party programme. And tlieirparty leaders would from time to time, by a slip of the tongue, demonstrate an ambiguous attitude to refugees and immigrants, although this could cause alarm among the party members themselves. No action has been taken by the Conservatives in parliament to change Swedish immigration laws. There is political unity on the matter, immigration should be held low while maintaining an apparently liberal facade for overseas consumption, especially in the case of political refugees. The student organization associated with the Swedish Conservatives has promoted a more radical policy by advocating free entry. Following the most recent elections some geographical differences are noticeable in the electorate. Areas with strong economic growth and industrial expansion, mainly the traditional centres, have supported the Conservatives while the more remote areas with a primary economy and problems with unemployment have supported the Social Democrats. It is too early to judge whether the blending of centre-periphery concerns with left-right ideological positions will have consequences for the future of conservatism and the structure of its support. However, there is some evidence to suggest that geographical differences are now important and that they will increase.

Conclusion Conservatism in Norway and Sweden has, throughout the twentieth century, successfully adapted to change. This is surprising because conservatism does not lend itself to function as an ideological doctrine, and does not spell out to its supporters how to react in a modern democracy, with elections, welfare policies, and a sophisticated

population. Conservatism is originally a strategy of defence, defence against secularism, industrialism, populism, 'mass society' and the age of reason. But the Conservatives of Norway and Sweden have successfully managed to complement the conservative heritage with market liberalism and an acceptance of the modern welfare state. They combine a liberal-conservative party doctrine within the context of state interventionism, that bears a social-conservative design.

Neoliberal conservatism is nE in itself, a formula for electoral success. In comparison to the Right elsewhere in Europe, the Conservatives in Norway and Sweden have been restricted by the social democratic consensus and the fragmentation of the Right. This has forced them to accept, even when in government, the general framework of the welfare state. Recent election setbacks can be attributed to concern over welfare. It is evident, however, that the opposition to high taxation, the dominance of the public sector, the

Conservatism in Norway and Sweden


demands for privatization and the opposition to nationalized industries have received increased support from the electorate. The

Conservatives have managed to change the tone of debate in their favour, but it is not clear whether this will threaten the Social Democrats' dominance in either country over the long term. In the past the Social Democrats in Norway and Sweden have demonstrated their ability to revive and to respond pragmatically to change. More significantly, while there has been a move to the Right, most voters still support the welfare state. Co-operation has also been an important feature of the Scandinavian political structure over the past fifty years and it is likely to continue. The established parties will not challenge this consensus, where criticisms emerge these will continue to be made

within the consensus and will not challenge its fundamental design. Note All translations from Norwegian and Swedish have been made by the author.

References Berglund, Sten and Ulf LindstrOm (1978) The Scandinavian Comparative Study. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Party System(s).


Bogdanor, Vernon and Butler, David (1983) Electoral Systems and their Political Consequences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bohr an, Gusta (1981) Elf friars eh opp rare Sverige. Stockholm: P.A. Norstedt and Somers Forlag. Bull, Edvard (1979) Norges historic, Band 14, Norte f den rake v e r d e . Tides etfer I945. Oslo: J.W. Cappelens Forlag a.s. Daiiiclscii, Ro1f(19&4) Burgwfig oppderrcrrzfrigapufitikk

Z9i'6-/940. Oslo; J.W. Cappelcns

Forlag a.s.

Holrnberg, Sorer and Mikael Gill jar (1987) Voijiore och Vol. Stockholm: Bonniers. Elvander, Nils (1984) Skondinovfsk arbetorrorelse. Stockholm: Libel Forlag. Hoyles program 1985/89 (1985) Fresher og Fellesskap-Mulihetens somfunn. Oslo: Hoyles Hovedorganisasjon. Jonnergard, Gustaf (1985) So blew det Centerparrier Bondeforbunds-och cenrerideema

franfyrrioraletfram fill I960. Stockholm: LTs Forlag. Kaartvedt, A1f(1984)Drommen on borgerlig somlfng. I884-/9/8. Oslo: _1.W. Cappelens Forlag a.s. Kuhnle, Stein, Kaare Strom and Lars Svasand (1986) 'The Norwegian Conservative Party: Setback in an Era of Strength West European Politics 9(3): 448-71. Lewin, Leif (1984) Ideoifogi och srrolegf. Stockholm: P.A. Norstedt and Somers Forlag. Lindblad, Ingemar, Carl-Einar Stalvant, Kristos Wahlback and Class Wiklund (1984) Polftfk in Noreen. Stockholm: Liber Forlag.

Listhaug, Ola (1986) 'The Norwegian Parliamentary Election of 1983', EIectoro1Si!udies 5(1)

Ljunggren, Stig-Bj6rn (1986) Konservarismen och valfardssysremez. Uppsala: Statsvetenenskapliga institution r. Unpublished.

144 The Transformation of Contemporary Co nservofism Logan, Ninnan (1979) I frihetens Uanst. Stockholm: Moderata Samlingspartiets Riksorganisation. OECD Economic Outlook, (1984) Hrbrrorical Statistics. Paris: OECD.

Petersen, Olof (1984) Folksryrefse o h statsmakt i Noreen. Uppsala: Diskurs. Seip, Jens Arup (1980) Dyd og nodvendighel. Hoyles historic giennom kundre at 1380/980. Oslo: Glydendal Norsk Forlag.

Sejersted, Francis (1984) Opposisjon of posfsjon 1945-81, Oslo: .T.W. Cappelerls Forlag a.s. Valen, Henry and Daniel Katz (1967) Political Parties in Norway. A Community Study. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

8 More than Conservative, Less than

Neoconservative: Alianza Popular in Spain José R. Montero

Conservatism in Spain has undergone a rapid transformation over the past twenty years. Traditional conservatism associated with the church, the military, and the landowners was maintained during the Franco dictatorship. Once democracy was re-established conservatism

in both its social and political manifestation suffered from its former associations. The UniOn del Centro Democréitico (Union of the Democratic Centre, UCD), a reformist conservative party (LaytonHenry, 1982 for typology), proved to be successful during the transition from dictatorship to democracy, but could not maintain its electoral momentum. In 1977 the UCD was the largest party capturing 35 per cent of the vote, but by 1982 its electoral base had collapsed to 6 per cent. In contrast, the Alianza Popular (AP) has increased its share

of the vote to 26 per cent but has not become dominant. AP is now considered the main party of the Right by most Spaniards, but has proved unable to challenge the parliamentary dominance of the Partido Socialista Obrero EspagNol (PSOE). Nor did the 1986 election strengthen AP; the PSOE retained its parliamentary majority and AP has encountered a number of crises subsequently which has weakened

it further. A little more than ten years ago it could be said of the European conservative political parties that 'they resist but they do not win' (Schumann, 1974: 154). However, Spanish conservatism can be viewed as an important exception to the positive transformation which both conservatism in Europe, and the majority of conservative parties, are undergoing, nor has it shared in the recent electoral success of its

European counterparts. Unlike other conservative parties in Europe, AP is unable to overcome its lack of democratic legitimacy in the eyes of the electorate, or to adopt a neoconservative policy framework. AP's image emphasizes its excessive conservatism (which is tinged with authoritarianism), and its rigid deface of traditional values, incompatible, to a certain extent, with a secularized and modernized society. These characteristics no longer reflect the values of a majority of

146 The Transformation

Contemporary Conservatism

Spaniards and help explain the continuing weakness of conservatism in Spain. The Evolution of AP: Fighting on through Defeat AP has undergone considerable change with regard to its organization, political identity, and electoral support. AP's evolution is significant enough to be considered one of its principal traits (De Esteban and LOpez Guerra, 1982). We can highlight at least four characteristics which persist throughout AP's process of change: the extraordinary importance of the founder, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, an ex~minister in the Franco dictatorship; the persistent search for its own ideological and electoral niche, the attempts to maximize the party's appeal through a policy of electoral coalitions in which AP has assumed the

dominant position, and the exaggerated and unrealistic electoral expectations which have consistently proved unrealizable. The party's first steps were graphically summarized as 'a story of frustrated intentions and ambitions' (Gunther, Sami and Shabad, 1986:78). A P was founded at the end of 1976 as a federation of so-called parties which were little more than the political creation of ex-Francoist ministers. The leaders expected to win at least 50 per cent of the vote in the first democratic elections of June 1977 (LOpez Pintor, 1985). However, they had to be content with a mere 8 per cent and sixteen seats, occupying a subordinate position with regard to UCD and a secondary, almost marginal, place in the new party system (Linz, 1980). AP's defeat can be fundamentally ascribed to its ignorance of the electorate's ideological moderation. The latter's party preferences leaned more toward centre-right parties like UCD and centre-left parties like PSOE. Although Fraga (1977) tried to construct a broad

liberal-conservative coalition which would occupy the entire centreright spectrum, AP was perceived as a party situated between the Right and the extreme Right, and thus a natural continuation of Francoisxn. At the same time AP overestimated the appeal of the old Francoist 'liberals' within the new democratic framework. It also underestimated the impact its perceived association with Francoism would have on public opinion (LOpez Nieto, 1985, Buse, 1984). More than two-thirds of the electorate considered AP to be a Francoist party, and almost half did not consider it democratic or capable of preventing political confrontation in Spain. Three~quarters saw it as the defender of Christian values and employers, while clear majorities believed it would not defend the working class. Even though these perceptions might also be shared by UCD, this party had successfully established its democratic legitimacy. A majority of AP voters expressed positive or very f a v o r a b l e opinions regarding recent dictatorship, a large


Popular in Spain


majority chose order above freedom as best expressing its ideas, and almost half declared themselves to be an ideological continuation of Francoism (Linz et al., 1981). AP was normally placed on the far Right of the ideological continuum, while UCD was placed much closer to the centre. These attitudes and perceptions frustrated its ambition to become the great Spanish Liberal-Conservative party which would act between PSOE and the extreme Right. Electorally overshadowed by UCD,

which had succeeded in responding to the Spaniards' ideological moderation, AP tried to moderate its ideological position from 1978-9 and abandon its anti-democratic traits. It succeeded in this mainly through taking part in the constitutional process started after the 1977 elections. Firstly, Fraga's participation on the constitutional report presented an excellent opportunity to improve the party's image. The consequences, according to Fraga (1982:87), were clearly positive. Secondly, AP's parliamentary party was divided over the issue of voting in the constitution. In spite of the conditional and reticent 'yes' vote of the section represented by Fraga, the completely negative vote of the other section enabled AP to distance itself from the so-called 'historical Fratlcoisrn'. The split also facilitated AP's coalition with groups and/or persons of the moderate Right, which was to widen the conservative electoral base before the forthcoming general election.

The Democratic Coalition was formed in 1979 (from here on AP-CD) consisting of AP and some small conservative parties (mainly Liberals and Christian Democrats) which had not joined UCD. The efforts which A P had undertaken to modify its image were not very successful. .The AP-CD received 6 per cent of the vote and nine seats, and 400,000 fewer votes than in 1977. AP-CD defined itself as a centre-right coalition, with an unequivocally conservative, but democratic, political programme, and a neoliberal economic programme. Its strategy

originated through competition with UCD for the centre of the ideological spectrum, where the majority of the electorate was situated. Its tactics consisted of emphasizing the moderation of its policies, accusing UCD's governmental policy of being "Leftist" and counteracting the effect of tactical voting. However, AP-CD's efforts at readaptation were insufficient. AP's ideological change since 1977 and the creation of the Democratic Coalition not only failed to attract the centrist electorate, but also failed to modify the perceptions which situated AP-CD on the excessively conservative and authoritarian Right and thus made it unacceptable to many Spaniards. The failure of AP-CD's strategy contrasted with UCD's tritunph. With 35 per cent of the vote, the latter had succeeded in confirming its

electoral support. The panorama of Spanish conservatism thus appeared to take shape around two opposing political forces

-- UCD


The Transformation

of Contemporary


and AP. While the former seemed destined to continue enjoying its predominant position thanks to its centrist character and moderate nature, the latter was condemned to occupy a subordinate position with regard to UCD and a marginal one in the party system due to its excessive conservatism.

The Evolution of AP: Fighting on Without Success In spite of the reduced size of its parliamentary party, AP played an important part in the 1979 legislature. The relative parliamentary weakness ofUCD and the strength ofPSOE contributed to this, along with the absence of smaller parties which would help either of these form a majority government. Besides which, AP's political influence was growing progressively greater during the legislative term, due to two complementary factors: the party's reorganization and the slow

disintegration of UCD, demonstrated by the regional elections held between March 1980 and May 1982 and its virtual disappearance after the October 1982 general election. At its third National Congress, held in December 1979, AP signaled the beginning of an extensive process of change. Firstly, AP was endowed with a strongly presidential structure which reaffirmed Fraga's leaders hip. Secondly, A P now attempted to redefine itself as a liberal-conservative party which was also reformist, popular, and democratic. Its policy programme now became typically catch-all, based on the models provided by Gaullism and the British Conservative Party. Nevertheless, its content continued to emphasize the customary

reasoning of the Spanish Right, the unity of the Fatherland and centralism, the concept of a 'strong' state, 'anti~rnaterialist' morality

and the supremacy of 'Christian civilisation', the deface of the 'great social institutions' like the family, Church and Army, traditional values with regard to divorce or abortion (Fraga, 1981; Del Aquila and Montoro, 1984). Thirdly, its political strategy was formulated

around the 'natural majority', an imprecise concept with a rhetorical emphasis. Now that the transition to democracy had been completed, AP believed a simplification of the party system to be necessary- This would facilitate governmental alternation with just two large political

options operating within a two-party system, and within which the 'natural' and 'majority' areas would correspond to AP. For AP's leaders the centre did not exist, either ideologically or politically, nor could it have its own party representation. The competition with PSOE should, therefore, be carried out by the Right, on which, according to these same conservative leaders, the majority of Spaniards placed themselves. The 'natural majority' objective not only sought to win the vote of the conservative electorate, which had 'provisionally' supported

Alianza Popular in Spain


UCD, but at the same time sought to break up the 'artificial' coalition of UCD.

AP's objectives were overly ambitious. But the strategic design of this 'natural majority' did not take into account the basically centrist, and slightly leftist, ideological preferences of the electorate, and it also

ignored the different attitudes which distinguished AP and UCD voters. Nevertheless, its plan seemed to work during this period. AP's effective organization contrasted with UCD's growing disintegration. UCD's crisis was further worsened by some ofits own supporters who encouraged the short-term substitution of UCD by AP under Fraga's leadership (Hunneus, 1985, Gunther, l986b, Caciagli, 1986). The Spanish Confederation of Entrepreneurial Organizations (CEOE) shared AP's mistaken suppositions about the party's immediate growth and overestimated the support for the conservative alternatives even among their own associates (Martinez, 1984). The Galician and Andalusian regional elections demonstrated the initial symptoms of UCD's irrevocable decline, its substitution in government by PSOE, and AP's takeover ofa large part of the non-socialist spectrum (Porras,

1985, LOpez Pintor, 1982). And the general election of 1982 fully confirmed this. As in 1979 AP stood for election as the dominant partner in a new coalition, in this case with various regional parties and the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), just formed by a group of parliamentarians and well-known public figures belonging to the Christian Democratic section ofUCD. The results obtained by AP-PDP were spectacular: its vote increased from one million in 1979 to 5.5 million in 1982. With

close to 26 per cent of the vote, its parliamentary representation increased from nine deputies to 107. In contrast to 1979, AP-CD won a seat in every constituency. Whereas in 1979, AP-CD could only come second in two districts and third in eighteen, in 1982 AP-PDP

succeeded in coming first in seven districts and second in the rest except for the Basque country and Catalonia, where it was continually relegated to lower positions. About 40 per cent (2.5 million votes) of UCD's 1979 voters transferred their political allegiance to the conservative coalition (Sami, 1986, Maravall, 1984). This occurred in a context characterized by the magnitude of electoral volatility and by the considerable growth in participation (Maravall and Santamaria, 1985, Montero, 1984 and 1986a). AP-PDP also received two-thirds of the votes of the extreme Right which motivated its dissolution soon after the elections. As a consequence, the composition of the AP-PDP electorate seemed to consist of, for the most part, ex-UCD voters, while those 'loyal' to AP, those who voted for it in 1979 and 1982,

constituted only a third. While AP-PDP achieved considerable success aL the 1982 election


The Transformation

of Contemporary


they were unable to realize the expectation of their strategy of attracting the 'natural majority' (Montero, l986b). Between 16 per cent and 27 per cent of former UCD voters supported PSOE, while AP-PDP received 800,000 votes less than UCD in 1979. The electoral

distance between PSOE and AP-PDP was far wider than that experienced by UCD in the previous election. The exceptional nature of Spanish party system realignment in 1982 called into question its future stability (Gunther, l986a). However AP's leadership believed that Spain had entered a phase of party competition characterized by a two-party system. It was further assumed that the centre, which voted for PSOE or UCD in 1982, would subsequently move to AP. This analysis was based on a number of mistaken assumptions. Conservative leadership believed that there had been a fundamental modification of ideological beliefs in Spain (Sani and Shabad, 1986). Secondly, they underestimated the ideological and attitudinal

differences which separated their own electorate from that of the centre, despite this evidence AP's leaders chose to ignore the existence of two distinct electorates and formulated a strategy to incorporate both into a single party occupying all the space to the right of PSOE. Thirdly, they overestimated the apparent 'two-party' result of the 1982 election, For them, UCD's disappearance signaled the end of a transitory phase, after which the two great parties, PSOE on the left and AP on the right, would compete among themselves in a stable, durable and 'natural' manner. The disappearance of the centre, as Fraga maintained, would facilitate the growth of a single party on the right and this, in turn, would lead to the British model of alternation in

government (Fraga Iribarne, 1981 and 1983). None of these assumptions subsequently developed in the manner expected. The electorate did not shift to the right, nor was the centre willing to become part of a conservative coalition. AP-PDP were also unsuccessful in uniting

anti-socialist opinion between 1982 and 1986. The numerous local and regional elections confirmed the conservatives' inability to achieve their objectives. Their momentum was neutralized by the continuing

success of PSOE, the distance between AP and the centre, and their own electoral ceiling which remained between 25 per cent and 30 per cent of the voteVery few changes took place in the conservative coalition prior to the 1986 general election: it became known as the 'Popular Coalition' (hereafter AP-CP), due to the presence of a new 'party', the Liberal Party (PL), which in reality did not exist, but was created at the prompting of AP. The new Popular Coalition thus united AP with the PDP and PL, parties which had no known electoral support and which were expected to perform the impossible task of 'centralizing' the coalition's conservatism. No attempt was made to revitalize the

Alianza Popular in Spain


ideological and intellectual framework of Spanish conservatism, as had been achieved elsewhere in Europe. The policy of AP-CP in opposition was essentially negative, normally only criticizing the government in catastrophic terms. Yet the reforms opposed had the consistent support of a majority of the electorate. It is, therefore, not surprising that according to many surveys taken at the time, two thirds of the Spanish electorate believed that AP-CP contributed little or

nothing to the solution of the country's problems. A majority also considered AP-CP to be too extreme a coalition and consequently ill-suited to govern (Montero, 1988). The finishing touch was AP-CP's position of 'acute abstention' with regard to the referendum on whether Spain should remain in NATO. This was such a confused, contradictory and opportunist posture that its European conservative allies found themselves unable to endorse it, AP-CP's intermediate leaders could not unanimously follow it, and its own voters did not obey it (Equip de Sociologia Electoral, 1986). The conservatives' strategic assumptions had not been realized by the June 1986 general election. The parties of the centre and right continued to compete for the non-socialist electorate. The electoral outcome for the two blocs remained uncertain. For the right the most important campaign issue involved preventing PSOE from obtaining an overall majority again. AP-CP's electoral campaign was ill suited to the election, its ideological emphasis did not address the concerns of the electorate. At first the party stressed its moderation, but this was soon replaced by the now familiar description of the situation and apocalyptic visions of the future in the case of a socialist victory. The majority ofits candidates were markedly conservative and undermined any attempt at moderation. Under this pressure the emphasis during the campaign moved further to the right. AP-CP had promised prior to the election to abolish the law on abortion, however this commit-

ment was not included in its manifesto. The important legislative reforms carried out by the socialist government in such essential areas as education and the economy, were included. Radical condemnation of the socialist government proved to be a substitute for conservative policy formation. Some of the more prominent proposals included the deface of liberty, security and equal opportunity, and also the proscription otlHerri Batasuna (the political wing of ETA) and a vague promise to put an end to terrorism within six months, all within the usual conservative concept of a 'strong state'. Economic neoliberalism was evident in its commitment to reduce inflation and public spending and to privatize public services. And its promise to promote Spain's full integration into NATO was difficult

n a


reconcile with its

absentionist position in the previous referendum. The election results weIE major disappointment for AP-CP.


The Transformation

of Contemporary


Despite an increase in the electorate, the coalition received 300,000 fewer votes and lost one seat. PSOE retained its absolute parliamentary majority, but AP-CP continued to lag far behind by three million

votes, which meant a difference of 18 per cent. The Popular Coalition was also manifestly incapable of winning the whole electoral sphere to the right of PSOE. As in 1982, the centre parties won about three million votes. AP-CP were unable to penetrate this sector of the electorate, proving again that their strategy for a 'natural majority' had little appeal outside the right (Del Castillo and Sami, 1986, Payne , 1986, Robinson, 1986). The evidence suggests a strong element of continuity in AP-CP's support base, but a failure to increase its overall attractiveness to other, and more numerous, sectors of the electorate. The 1986 election confirmed in short the failure of AP~CP's strategy to dominate the non-socialist electorate. The election result had serious consequences for the coalition. Electoral stagnation contrasted badly with the inflated hopes and predictions of the leadership. The coalition itself collapsed with the defection of PDP and PL. This further reduced AP's parliamentary representation and eroded its claim to be the alternative to the socialist government. This was compounded by serious internal crises for AP. The party came close to bankruptcy as a result of debts contracted during the previous campaign. A number of secondary leaders resigned, while one section of the party, including four deputies, was expelled. And, above all, the faction fighting and continuous rnanoeuvring to replace Fraga as AP's leader led to his resignation in December 1986. AP's crises clearly illustrate some of the so-called traditional vices of the Spanish Right. The importance of personality factors in internal conflicts and the excessive dependence on a charismatic leader have had a deleterious effect on the party. The party itself lacks autonomy in formulating policy because of its close links with interest groups. These groups interfere with the internal policy process, and the party is seen as an agent of particular interest groups . This 'structural incapacity of the right' is reflected in Fraga's resignation and is characterized by, inter alia, excessive emphasis on personality, intrigue, and lack of discipline.

Fraga's resignation provided AP with the opportunity to advance in

a new direction. The succession was accompanied by personality clashes which prevented the process of ideological renewal from being activated. At the extraordinary congress held in February 1987, Antonio Hernandez Mancha was elected as AP's new president. a young populist senator whose only political experience involved presiding over the party in Andalusia. AP which, with 200,000

declared members, calls itself the First Spanish Party, began a new uncertain journey. It is doubtful whether the changes undertaken after

Alianza Popular in Spain


the post-electoral crises will be sufficient in themselves to achieve the reconstruction of the Right, it is even improbable that the changes are those necessary to personify that New Right. The political and

electoral events of the next few years, which the conservative leaders obstinately refer to as proof of their intentions, will enable us to verify either the effective realization of those assumptions or their failure. The only certainty is that after ten years of democratic party

competition, the political articulation of the Right continues to be an unresolved problem. The last part of this chapter briefly analyses, from the limited focus of AP, some of the factors relating to this problem. The Weakness of the Spanish Right: a Selective Analysis

The weakness of the Spanish Right, and particularly AP, can be attributed to a number of historical, contingent and structural factors. Taken together, these factors, which include the close association with the former dictatorship, the failure to respond to the democratized political culture which emerged after the dictatorship and the fragmentation of the Right itself, has marginalized the Right during the first decade of democracy. This weakness is not a new phenomenon, it has strong roots in Spain's political history. It is sufficient to recall the slow development of a mass party organization on the right, its marked propensity for exceptional political solutions, and the active partici-

pation of its main leaders in the institutionalization and consolidation of the Franco dictatorship. Francoism has been interpreted, to a large extent, as a reflection of the structural, democratic weakness of the Spanish Right (Maravall, 1984). The end of the dictatorship and the

first democratic election in l97'7 found the Right ill-prepared for the transition. The dictatorship had made political organization unnecessary, and the conservative forces found it difficult to confront the

new party competition. The failure of UCD to become the main expression of the centreright reinforced conservative difficulties. whip A P replaced UCD as as

the main political force on the Right its success remained limited. The dilemma for AP is that while it claims ideological affinity with the European New Right, its electoral base, its structure, and its policies owe more to traditional forms of right-wing mobilization than to the modernized forms of conservatism now widespread in Northern Europe. AP is further hampered by its limited electoral appeal, which in comparison with its European conservative counterparts prevents it from becoming a catch-all party. The continuing divisions on the Right prevented AP from presenting

itself as the only alternative to PSOE. The result of this can be seen in a comparative context. AP is one of those conservative parties with a low

154 The Transformation of Contemporary ConservoNsm

level of electoral support even though the party system does not exhibit a high level of fragmentation (Von Bey me, 1985). The intensity of the electorate's negative sentiments also hampers its capacity to form coalitions with other parties which AP continues to consider 'allies' (Linz, l986a). Finally AP's image and ideological evolution, which

according to the party itself makes it part of the New Right, does not correspond with the prevalent neoconservative tendencies in other European countries, examples of which can be found elsewhere in this book. One of the main weaknesses of Spanish conservatism has been AP's inability to develop strategies similar to other catch-all parties in Europe and which have wide appeal. In contrast to the relative success enjoyed by UCD in this respect between 1977 and 1979 (and naturally, PSOE since 1977), public support for AP has been limited by a generally negative perception of the party. Unlike many neoconservative parties elsewhere, AP has been unable to generate an appeal to

the majority of the electorate. The limited nature of AP's appeal has prevented it from developing as a catch-all party. On most issues, AP's policy is at variance with that of the electorate and the electorate itself gives priority to issues or sentiments on which AP scores badly. Thus, only 30 per cent of the electorate in 1982 believed AP was a party which 'defended the workers'. This perception has considerable implications for AP, because Spanish political culture is characterized by a diffuse anti-capitalism. This sentiment is not limited to the Left, nor is it incompatible with moderate and even conservative attitudes. However, it does obstruct the generation of a neoconservative programme along Northern European lines (Linz l 984a and 1984b, GOmez»Reino, 1985). Logically, this difficulty increases when dealing with a party which is scarcely characterized by its 'modernity'. Only 6 per cent of the electorate considered AP a 'modern' party (30 per cent

in PSOE's case). In 1982, the majority of those interviewed in a nationwide poll believed that AP-PDP voters were fundamentally

middle-aged living in urban centres, 'rich people' who belonged to the 'middle class', and those of high occupational status. In short, they were politically 'right wing' (LOpez Pinter and Justel, 1982). It is as interesting to note that these perceptions, especially of conservative voters' high social status, have not changed substantially since then

despite the efforts undertaken by AP leaders to counter them (CIS, 1984). The Social Profile of the Conservative Electorate Various surveys have systematized the evolution of the principal sociodemographic factors within the conservative electorate since

Alianza Popular in Spain


1977. It is clear from these that AP's electoral growth has brought the

distribution otlits voters closer to that found in the general population. Despite this, AP is still far from winning support from different sections of the population, which undermines its attempts to become a catch-all party to the same extent as PSOE (Puhle, 1986). The relative rejuvenation of the conservative electorate has not changed its lack of appeal among the younger sections of Spanish society, consequently reinforcing its dependency on older sectors of the electorate (in 1986, for instance, two-thirds of AP voters were over forty-six). AP also continues to attract disproportionate support from those who have

formal education or who have acquired university education. This contrasts sharply with the less advanced educational achievements of

the majority of the electorate. Although A P has increased its representation in most sectors of the population, it continues to draw its support mainly from the middle and upper classes. In 1982, AP-PDP effectively replaced UCD by attracting the votes of those situated at the apex of the professional pyramid. In contrast, while two-thirds of the workers voted PSOE, a scant 9 per cent voted AP-PDP, four times less than the UCD figure for 1979. This distribution did not appreciably change in 1986, 20 per cent of the upper classes and only 8 per cent of the workers voted AP-CP (however, 33 per cent of the former and 53 per cent of the latter voted PSOE). The conservative voters' status (and consequently income) levels are thus highly disproportionate to those of the general

population. The party's electorate is drawn from a relatively narrow class stratum. Furthermore, in 1986 some two~tbirds of AP supporters considered themselves to be middle or upper class, the importance of this is directly proportional to the greater relationship of subjective

class identification with political preferences. In most European countries religion has become a residual element

for mobilizing conservative support. In Spain, however, it is not surprising to find a basic continuity in the mainly religious composition of conservative voters. But the level of religious identification with political behavior creates difficulties for AP when the society generally is becoming secularized. Those who vote for AP are probably the least secularized section of the electorate, among whom there is a

close relationship of religious identification and political partisanship . For example, AP voters have much more conservative views than the Italian Christian Democrats or CVCI] the MSI (Italian neofascists) on the incompatibility of Catholicism and socialism or communism (Guidorossi, 1984). AP's important overrepresentation in this area combines with its

failure to change itself into a catch-all party. This failure in turn contrasts with PSOE's success in this field. In 1986, 24 per cent of


The Transformation

of Contemporary Conservatism

'practising Catholics' and 34 per cent of those who said they attended mass on Sunday or even more days of the week voted for the Popular Coalition, however, 35 per cent and 25 per cent respectively voted PSOE. In contrast, the size of the AP vote in mainly secularized areas remained insignificant, while PSOE attained higher levels here yet again (Montero, 19860, Linz, l 986b). It seems that some conservative leaders repeatedly confuse the reality that their party is supported overwhelmingly by Catholics with the desire that an overwhelming majority of Catholics must necessarily vote for their party. The consequences for AP remain quite serious. Conservatism has tradi-

tionally been able to rely on Catholics for support, however with growing secularization this linkage has weakened. Social change has

deprived AP of this electoral base and PSOE, with its moderate socialism, has successfully attracted a high proportion of Catholics.

AP's Image and Ideological Position AP's ideological position, which is unrepresentative of the electorate, has also contributed to its weakness. The Right generally, and AP in particular, has had to operate in a democratic environment which was hostile to its associations with the former dictatorship. Thus, during the transition to democracy, conservatism was associated with the authoritarian past, further restricting the possible appeal of the Right. In addition, the historical conjuncture of the Spanish transition deprived the Right of certain positions and themes which favoured the

Right in other European democracies (Linz, 1986a). The absence of a revolutionary Left and the weakness of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) meant that the anti~cornmunist banner could not be used to mobilize the electorate. Increasing secularization deprived the Right of yet another traditional base for mobilization, to the extent of allowing

PSOE to attract the votes of many practising Catholics, as we have seen. The Europeanism and subtle anti-Americanism of the major parties made it difficult for the Right to take advantage of the NATO and European options, as their European counterparts have done. Thus it occurred that the historical conjuncture in Spain proved to be far less opportune than has been the case for conservative parties elsewhere in Europe. Both AP and UCD had shared these problems. But AP was faced with more specific difficulties, at first the electorate considered it to be a neofascist party and once this characteristic was overcome most voters believed it remained a right-wing formation. Thus, during the transition AP at first seemed to lack democratic credibility, and then was placed in an ideological setting not

representative of the electorate as a whole. The re-establishment of democracy in Spain, as in many other

Alianza Popular in Spain


European countries, also helped to discredit those leaders and objectives, as well as ideological labels, which had played important roles in the authoritarian past. The process through which everything associated with this anti-democratic past lost its legitimacy was especially severe in the Spanish case. The dictatorship's lengthy duration, its hyper-conservative if not reactionary nature, the high profile of the conservative political elite and its leading role on the victorious side in the civil war facilitated the comparison between

Francoism and the Right, between conservatism and authoritarianism. Numerous studies have, in different ways, demonstrated the strength of this identification in the new democratic era which could only adversely affect the management capabilities of the parties branded in this manner, either by others or by themselves, as right-wing or conservative (Jimenez Blanco et al., 1977, Sami and Montero, 1986). A survey carried out in 1984 found that the term 'Right' was taken to imply incompatibility with the democratic system and was identified with class favouritistn. Almost half of those interviewed with an opinion on the subject emphasized the Left's 'deface of all classes' interest', while half stressed the Right's 'defence of upper class privileges', one-quarter defined the Left with terms like 'progressiveness', 'freedom', and 'idealism', while half characterized the Right in terms like 'authoritarianism', 'conservatism', 'order', and 'religiosity' (CIS, 1984). This confirms the general phenomenon which attributes political superiority to the term 'Left' when combined with the historically negative content associated with the term 'Right' (Laponce , l98l).

The two major Spanish conservative parties have had to confront the cultural remnants of the previous dictatorship. UCD was successful in breaking its associations with Francoisrn, and it was finally able to do this by emphasizing its centrism and by taking part both in

government and in the adoption ofreformistpolicies. AP, on the other hand, moved in the opposite direction, becoming increasingly representative of the rightist and authoritarian sectors of Spanish politics. The electorate in general and conservative voters both agreed on this point, the latter proudly acknowledging an authoritarian past they considered to be positive (Linz et al., 1981). Despite changes in AP's electoral fortunes, these perceptions have

not dramatically changed. AP voters continue to evaluate the dictatorship positively, to regard Franco favourably, and to generally identify with the term 'Francoisrn' (Montero, l986b and 1988). It is, therefore, not surprising that in 1985 large sections of the electorate continued to consider AP an 'authoritarian party much more than a 'democratic'

one, as 'old-fashioned' rather than 'modern'. These negative perceptions have been frequently reinforced by public statements by AP


The Transformation

of Contemporary


supporters against the legitimacy of the democratic system and on the

state of the autonomies: their attitudes regarding these issues have never been as positive as those of the general electorate or the other national parties. To quote a significant finding, only one half of AP voters in 1985 were of the opinion that 'democracy is preferable to any other form of government' while one quarter said that 'in certain circumstances, an authoritarian regime, a dictatorship, could be preferable to a democratic system'. These perceptions clearly restrict AP's appeal to an electorate which is moderate and centrist. Although the association between authoritarianism and conservatism has diluted over time, AP's continuing weakness is a result of the excessively conservative nature of its policies, which characterizes it as a fundamentally right-wing party and consequently ensures its marked estrangement from the main body of the electorate. There are also, possibly, some voters for whom AP's increasing loyalty to democracy has not changed their opinion that it continues to be an unacceptable voting option because of its conservatism.

Since 1979 the electorate's view of AP's position on the Left-Right ideological continuum has not changed very much, it is viewed as a right-wing, and even an extreme right-wing, party. In 1979 AP was placed in the centre by21 per cent of centrist voters and 14 per cent of the whole electorate, by 1982 this was reduced to 5 per cent and 4 per cent respectively. In contrast, the amount that placed it on the Right, and to a lesser extent on the extreme Right, has increased: by 1986, 53 per cent of the electorate placed AP on the extreme Right while 42

per cent placed it on the Right. These opinions clearly continue to restrict any AP strategy which attempts to compete for majority support from the electorate. Despite its electoral increase, AP's

subsequent options appear quite limited in that particular contest in view of perceptions that it is moving increasingly towards the Right, and that two-thirds of PSOE voters, almost half of CDS voters, and a

little more than half the electorate place AP on the most extreme points of the ideological scale, As is to be expected, these data are strongly related to the ideological

situation of AP's leaders and of the conservative voters themselves, In 1984, 47 per cent of the electorate placed Fraga Iribarne on the Right, and 45 per cent on the extreme Right. Fraga's average position on a

ten-point ideological scale was 8.3. Regarding the ideal ogical position conservative voters place themselves in, it is interesting to observe their progressive move to the Right, which parallels, to a certain extent, growing perceptions of the party's conservatism. The massive influx of

ex-UCD voters in 1982 considerably increased the percentage of AP supporters placing themselves on the Right (45 per cent in 1979 and 61

Alianza Popular in Spain


per cent in 1982). And between 1982 and 1986 there was a shift in self-placement from the Right to the extreme Right. If we allow the voters' self-placement on a Left-Right continuum the status as an indicator of their political identities (Sami and Montero, 1986) it is clear that AP's voters have become more conservative. The distance between AP and the other political parties has widened, as has the gap between it and the electorate (CIS, 1982 and 1986). The Spaniards' continuing ideological moderation during the first democratic decade demonstrated that, contrary to conservative analysis, AP's increase was not due to a movement by the electorate toward the Right, but rather to changes carried out in the party system format. On the other hand the persistent ideological distance between AP and the

electorate itself (aggravated even more by the former's shift to the Right) impeded its expansion into the moderate sectors, contrary to conservative predictions. AP could in this way hegemonize the ideological sections of the Right and extreme Right, in which only a minority of the electorate was situated, but was continually unable to attract centrist voters. It is possible that AP may have now weakened the perception which linked it to Francoism, and has been able to present itself as representative of a democratic Right. It also succeeded in winning democratic legitimacy in the party system despite the authoritarian images that still accompanied it. However, it remains more likely that AP's image remains excessively conservative, a perception which continues to alienate it from the voting preferences of the majority. AP's future remains limited by the weakness of the party's electoral appeal and by its failure to appear a credible alternative to PSOE.

Many of the negative influences have mistakenly been exclusively associated with the leadership of Fraga, the importance his identification with such a strongly presidential party, and his own

personality. Despite the well-known intensity of the relationship between Fraga and his conservative electorate, the rejection by the rest of the population and even parties as close as CDS, is evident. This rejection is extremely strong, half of those expressing hostility to Fraga concentrate their rating on the lowest levels of a ten-point sympathy scale. Fraga's leadership combined an extremely high level of awareness of him among the electorate with the greatest levels of

hostility. These levels did not appreciably diminish even when AP changed from an almost marginal parliamentary group into the principal opposition party, and which are not that different from those obtained by the leader of the small Communist Party. AP's rejection was not only a consequence of the effect of its main leader up to 1986, the party itself did not elicit a substantially different response. Almost two-thirds of the electorate expressed hostility to the


The Transformation

of Con iernporary Conservatism

party when it captured 6 per cent of the vote, was subordinate to UCD in the conservative field, and trying desperately to lessen its identification with the dictatorship. But these sentiments had not changed even when AP became the second largest party with 26 per cent of the vote and the main opposition to the Socialist Government.


AP's difficult position is further reflected in what might be called the 'negative party preference', that is, the extent to which certain political parties are excluded from consideration by the electorate (Sami, 1981, Sami and Shabad, 1986). In 1985 more than 50 per cent of the electorate believed AP was not an acceptable electoral alternative, a figure which had increased since 1982. This significantly illustrates the high levels of general rejection due to its excessive. conservatism and lack of democratic credentials among other reasons. These findings encapsu~ late the weaknesses of the Spanish Right, the lack of a public image

necessary to become that 'natural majority' sought after so mistakenly for so long, the lack of credibility which impeded the achievement of a right-wing government alternative which it insistently, as well as

erratically, defended. Schumann was correct in his observation (at least as applied to Spain) quoted at the beginning of this chapter that conservative parties 'resist but do not win'. In contrast to UCD, AP has succeeded in fighting on during the first democratic decade, even if this was due to processes of leadership and structural crises, of strategic and electoral defeat. But its triumph has not yet come about, or, if the party's evolution can be considered as such, it is far from AP's

own objectives. And it does not appear likely that this situation of fighting on without winning will radically change in the near future. The transformation of Spanish conservative parties along the neo-

conservative road, which their European counterparts seem to have adopted, has yet to be realized.

Author's note The author would like to thank M. Caciagli, R. Gunther, J.-J, Linz, H.-J. Puhle, G. Sami and J.M. Valles, who effected valuable critiques of previous versions of this work. The Centro de Investigaciones S-ociolOgicas has always

kindly and efficiently provided me with information, for which I thank Julian Santamaria, Rosa Conde and Pilaf Alcobendas.

Alianza Popular in Spain


Editor's note

Unless otherwise noted all data reported in this chapter have been collected by DATA, S.A., or by the Centro de Investigaciones SociolOgicas (CIS). The 1979 DATA poll was undertaken by R. Gunther, G. Sami, and G. Shabad of the Ohio State University, whom the author thanks for permission to consult and use the results. The 1982 DATA poll was carried out by those mentioned above in addition to J.J. Linz, H.-J. Puhle, P. del Castillo, and the author (of. Linz and Montero, 1986). The CIS data are based on a number of polls carried out from 1982 to July 1986. For a more extensive analysis see the Spanish version of this paper, obtainable from the author.

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Caciagli, M. (1986) Eleecfanes y Paradox en la Transfcian Espanola. Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones SociolOgicas/Siglo XXI. Centro do Investigaciones SociolOgieas (CIS) (1982) 'La EvoluciOr: del Voto: 1979-82', Revista Espa.rz"ala de In vestigac iones Sacfalégicas, 28: 305-2]


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162 The Transformation

of Contemporary


I-Iunneus, C. (1985) La UniOn de Centro Democrétfco y Zo TronsiciOn a Io Dernocracfo en EspaNa. Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones SociolOgicas/Siglo XXI. Jimenez Blanco, J., _T.M. Garcia Ferrando,E. LOpez Aranguren and M. Beltran Villalva (1977) La Concfencfo Regional en EspaNa. Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones SociolOgicas.

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Democracies. New Haven: Yale University, mimeograph.

Linz, JJ. (1984b) 'La Sociedad EspaNola. Presente, Pasadoy Futuro', pp. 5?-95 in JJ. Linz-(ed.), Espana: Un Presenre porn el fuzuro. Lo Sociedad. Madrid: Institute de

Estudios EconOrnicos. Linz, J.J_ (l986a) 'Consideraciones Finales', pp. 645-62 in Linz and Montero, 1986. Linz, JJ. (1986b) 'ReligiOn y Political, pp. 201-56 in Linz and Montero, 1986. Linz, JJ., M. GOmez-Reino, F.A. Orizo and D. Vila (1981) Inform SocZofOgfco sombre el Cambia Politfco en EspaNa, 1'97j'»8I. Madrid: Euroamérica.

Linz, J.J. and J.R. Montero (eds) (1986) Crisis y Cambia: Eiectores y Parridos en la E.span"'a de Zos A505 Ochenta. Madrid: Centro de Estudios Constitucionales. LOpez Nieto, L. (1985) Alfanza Popular. AproxftnacfOn az'E3Iudio Cfentoqco-Poiftfco de un Porrfdo Conservator. PhD dissertation. Madrid: Universidad Complutense. LOpez Pintor, R. (1982) La OpiniOn Ptiblica Espoiiofa def Franqufmo a la Democracy.

Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones SociolOgicas. LOpez Pintor, R. (1985) 'Francoist Reformers in Democratic Spain: The Popular Alliance and the Democratic Coalition', pp. 188-205 in H.R. Penniman and E.M. Mural-LeOn (eds), Spain at the Potts, 1977, I979, and f982. A Study of the Narfonar' Elections. Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute.

LOpez Pintor, R. and M. Justel (1982) 'Iniciando el Anélisis de las Elecciones Generales de 1982 (Inforrne de un Sondeo Poste1ectora1)', Revista EspaNola de Investigaciones SodofOgNcas, 20: 155-68.

Maravall, J.M. (1984) La Poffzica de in Trans1'c1'6n. Madrid: Taurus. Maravall, .I.M. and J. Santamar1a (1985) 'Crisis del Franquismo, TransiciOn Politica y ConsolidaciOn do la Dcinocraeia en Espafia', Sister, 68-69: 79-129.

Martinez, R.E. (1984) Business Hires in Democratic Spain. PhD dissertation. new Haven: Yale University.

Montero, .1.R. (1984) 'Niveles, Fluctuaciones y Tendencias del Abstencionismo

Electoral en EspaNa y Europa', Revista EspaNola de Investigaciones Sociokigicas, 28: 223-42, Montero, J.R. (19863) 'La Vuelta a las Ulnas: ParticipaciOn, MovilizaciOn y AbsteneiOrf, pp. 71-124 in Linz and Montero, 1986. Montero, _T.R. (198613) 'El Sub-Triurlfo de la Derecha: Los Apoyos Electorales de

AP-PDP', pp. 344-432 in Linz and Montero, 1986. Montero, J.R. (I986c) 'Iglesia, SecularizaciOn y Comportamiento Politico en Espal'ia', Revista Espafiofa de Im'esffgac.ione5 So ciolégicos, 34: 131-59. Montero, J.R. (1988) 'Alianza Popular, CoaliciOn Democratica y CoaliciOn Popular

(l9'}'6-86): La EvoluciOri de la Derecha EspaNola en la Primers Década Democratioa',

Alianza Popular in Spain


in J. Santamaria (ed.), Los Partidos Politicos Espariofes. Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones SociolOgicas. Payne, S.G. (1986) 'The Parliamentary Elections of lure 1986', pp. 246-55 in S.G. Payne (ed), The Politics of Dernocratic Spain. Chicago: The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. Porras, A. (1985) Geograffa Efecmrai de Andalusia. Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones Sociolégicas/Siglo XXI . Puhle, H.-J. (1986) 'El PSOE: Un Partido Dominante y Heterogéneo', pp. 289-344 in

Linz and Montero, 1986. Robinson, R. (1986) 'From Change to Continuity: The 1986 Spanish Election', West European Politics, 10: 121-4. Sami, G. (1981) 'Partiti S Atteggiamenti di Massa in Spagna e Italia', Rfviista Italians i f Scfenza Politics, 11: 235-219. Sarii, G. (1986) 'Los Desplazamientos del Electorado: Anatomia del Can bio', pp. 1-26 in Linz and Montero, 1996. Sani, G. and J. R. Montero (1986) 'El Espectro Poiiticot lzquerda, Derecha y Centro', pp, 155-200 in Linz and Montero, 1986. Sani, G. and G. Shabad (1986) ';Adversaries o Cornpetidores? La PoiarizaciOn del Electorado', pp. 587-624 in Linz and Montero, 1986. Schumann, G. (1974) Konservatismus. Cologne: Kiepenheuer and Witsch. Von Bey me, K. (1985) Poilf.tico}Portie5 in Western Democracies. New York: St Martin's Press.

9 The United States: Conservative Politics in a Liberal Society Brian Garvin

Liberal democratic political culture has undergone a profound challenge since the mid-1960s. After two decades of peace, prosperity, and stability the democratic polity was faced with considerable uncertainty. At the beginning of the 1960s there was a strong sense of confidence in the system, economic growth accelerated, affluence combined with full employment to create the conditions for class compromise and a broad political consensus on policy issues. These trends reinforced the view that an 'end of ideology' was in sight, if not actually accomplished (Bell, 1961). However, the events of the 1960s shattered this promise. The policy consensus which had prevailed since 1945 collapsed and an increased polarization became evident by the early 19705. Throughout liberal democratic societies a new divisiveness was evident on the Left and the Right. This was compounded by the reassertion of ideology, although the emphasis was different from that of the 19205 and 1930s. The United States bore the brunt of these changes. The war in Vietnam, the civil rights movement, and the emergence of feminism radicalized the political debate and contributed to the dealignment of the main political parties. Samuel Beer (19'78:5) concluded that 'In the early 1960s the New Deal finally came to an end' and asked 'What, if anything, has taken its place?' The answer at that time was not clear, nor was it if asked about the successor to the social democratic welfare states in Western Europe. Experiments in social democracy and Keynesianism

continued, while corporatist intermediation received considerable

attention. Beer believed that an 'equilibrium without purpose' had emerged which reflected a balance of social forces (1978:4-4). This chapter will suggest that both the New Deal and the 'equilibrium without purpose' has been replaced by a self-confident conservatism (or neoconservatism) with a clear sense of purpose. American

conservatism has, over twenty years, been welded into a relatively homogeneous ideological force with the aim of reshaping the political

The United States: Conservative Politics in a Liberal Society


culture. No longer can American conservatism be characterized as the 'thankless persuasion', the preserve of a small intellectual elite (Rossiter, 1962), nor as a defensive normative structure internalized by the 'more backward and frightened elements of the population, including the classes that are socially and psychologically depressed' (McCloskey, 1958: 37-8). Ronald Reagan's election victories have made conservatism respectable. Yet, it is only twenty years since a senior politician, Barry

Goldwater, used the term 'conservative' to describe his political ideology and for which he was ridiculed, often by members of his own party. Reagan's conservatism is unambiguous and marks a decisive break with the dominant liberal ideology in the US. Prior to Reagan, it was difficult to locate a coherent and systematic conservative programme which received widespread political support (Lowi, 1979). The policies promoted by the Reagan administration have been consistently conservative, even when they have not been successfully implemented. This is in sharp contrast to previous Republican presidents who, whatever their ideological preferences, were constrained by the prevailing liberal environment from implementing them

(Reichley, 1981, Peele, 1984). Reagan's success has also to be related to changes in the Republican Party, in popular culture, in values and in society at large. The mobilization of a conservative majority was not inevitable, but reflected firstly a successful reformulation of Republican ideology over a thirty-year period and secondly the close relationship between this ideology and some of the needs of a section of the American electorate. This success further presupposed the failure of other alternatives.

Three broad sequences can be identified. The first includes the impact of the New Deal on the Republican Party and on American society. Although not uniformly so, the New Deal era provided a hostile environment for traditional conservative politics and led to

attempts to reformulate Republican ideology to take account of these changes. The second begins with the erosion of the New Deal consensus during the 1960s and includes Nixon's attempts to stabilize a Republican-conservative presidential majority. This can be charac-

terized as a period of experiment for conservatism in the face of first crisis and subsequent trauma as a consequence of Watergate. The third sequence begins with a clear redefinition of conservatism from the mid-1970s and leads to the building of Reagan's presidential majority. This period can be characterized in terms of conservative dominance within the Republican Party and increased influence within the society.


The Transformation

of Contemporary


The Impact of the New Deal on the Republican Party

The dilemma faced by conservatives in the US has been starkly posed by Horowitz (1977:136): All ideologies face dilemmas in America, but none more so than conservatism because it singularly makes a claim to political relevance, yet has no real claim or relevance. It must accept the framework set by a cosmopolitan liberalism, while steering clear of the ultra-nationalism of atavistic reaction.

As the main expression of 'conservatism' in American politics during the twentieth century, the Republican Party shared in this dilemma. In a strict sense the Republican Party in 1945 could not be considered a conservative party. Both the Democrats and the Republicans had influential conservative sections in their parties, but this did not amount to the imposition of a coherent set of conservative values on either party. There might be revolts by McCarthyites or Southern whites against their respective party leaderships, but throughout this period liberalism prevailed in both parties. The main differences centred on economic policy and on the approach to the New Deal. The Republican Party took an individualistic stand on economic policy criticizing the collectivist nature of the New Deal institutions. To draw a British analogy, an old and a new liberalism can be identified, each of which placed a different emphasis on certain aspects of policy. The Republican Party embodied a number of conservative traits within its ideology, but the party was not yet a conservative movement. Nevertheless, of the two main parties the Republicans were the more conservative on most issues. McCarthyism drew much of its support from one section of the Republican Party, although it was also opposed by another (Robin, 1979). It is in this limited sense that the Republicans can be characterized as conservative, it is the moral

conservatism of small-town America and the anti-statist economic conservatism of some sections of the bourgeoisie. Despite this, the

Republican Party attempted to modify its policy in response to the decisive changes introduced by the New Deal. This recognized that no political party could survive at the national level if it continued to question the validity of the New Deal institutions. The opportunity to promote Republican values (if not conservative ones) increased as the liberal climate became more attenuated during the early 1950s. American conservatism, as represented by the Republican Party, can be generally compared with that of Britain during the same period: both expressions were seriously qualified by a political culture largely defined by their opponents (Girvin, l987b).

The Republican Party came to power at the presidential level in 1952. Eisenhower was a popular candidate and the party's election

The United States: Conservative Politics in G Liberal Soefety


platform gave clear expression to Republican ideology. However, if this programme had been the basis of a legislative programme during Eisenhower's administration, it is unlikely that he would have been returned to office in 1956. At this level the Republican leadership opted for a share of power rather than for the reiteration of ideology. This does not mean that Eisenhower was a liberal, but that he had to function within a liberal environment. I n this he was a true conservative, suspicious of the New Deal changes, but accepting and administering them. Furthermore, during the conflict over McCarthyism within the Republican Party, Eisenhower insisted on distancing himself from the extremists. In spelling out his opposition to them, he also articulated a modification of conservatism which appeared to be an attempt to establish a new political ground for Republicanism. This new approach would be 'pro-gressive' and would challenge the traditional right within the party (Ambrose, 1984: 220-1). The elections of 1952 and 1956 appeared to confirm Eisenhower's view that there was a presidential majority for a moderate or progressive Republican candidate. Republican strength at Presidential elections was to be found in the South which was becoming essentially two party, among the suburban middle class and lower-middle class in northern cities and from sections of the working class. In 1956 some 50 per cent of the manual working class voted Republican. The 1956 platform reflected Eisenhower's 'cons ervative new dealisln', a willingness to maintain what had been achieved by the New Deal but not to develop them much further. Concepts such as 'progressive moderates' and 'dynamic conservativism' were utilized to describe this pheno-

menon. Although never fully accepted by the party, the Eisenhower doctrine was a serious attempt by conservatives to adopt a policy which was electorally attractive, addressed real concerns, but retained some ideological objectives and values (Larson, 1956). Eisenhower believed that he had received a mandate in 1952 to reduce public debt, to control public expenditure, and to curb inflation (Eisenhower, 1963:33-4). As President, Eisenhower certainly continued to emphasize his commitment to these economic goals, yet he was unable to implement them. The political environment during the 1950s was not conducive to such an exercise -- the tacit commitment to full employment contained in the 1946 Employment Act seriously

constrained any deflationary policy. Eisenhower's fiscal policy remained conservative, but he was unwilling to countenance a return to the policies of the late 1920s which the electorate believed had contributed to the Depression. Thus, while his administration was prepared to abandon economic orthodoxy to prevent a serious

recession, it was not prepared to move beyond a passive approach to policy making. In other areas Eisenhower's policies cannot be


The Transformation

of Contemporary


described as conservative: his foreign policy was transatlanticist, trade policy was internationalist, while he was a moderate on civil rights (Ambrose, 1984). Two factors can be identified at work. Hibbs (1977) has suggested that on economic issues there are strong ideological variables which reflect the Right or Left nature of liberal democratic political parties. All else being equal, a leftist party will reduce unemployment at the cost of increasing inflation, while a right-wing party will curb inflation at the cost of rising unemployment. In terms of public policy, the Democrats and Republicans followed this pattern. Yet all else was not entirely equal. Though the Republicans were ideologically committed to an anti-inflationary policy, a large section of the electorate refused to accept the consequences of this- The Depression of the 1930s remained a potent memory for most American voters during the 1950s, a memory which reinforced the attractiveness of policies which provided full employment and rising living standards. This in turn put pressure on any government to maintain demand at levels which would

ensure these outcomes (Madsen, 1981). Virtually all conservative parties in liberal democracies had pursued anti-inflationary policies prior to the Second World War. While this priority remained during the 1950s, its political efficacy was constricted

by the commitment to growth and full employment (Girvin, l987b). Conservative incumbency in the United States during the 1950s may have been somewhat constricted by New Deal assumptions, but this did not mean that the Republicans altered their overall emphasis. In comparative terms, the unemployment rate in the United States

between 1952 and 1960 was higher than the average for Western Europe, while the inflation rate was lower. On economic issues Eisenhower's policies tended to be pre-Keynesian and in the context

conservative. Despite this there was a basic constraint facing the Republicans: Presidential success took place within a context defined by the Democrats rather than the Republicans. Although Eisenhower was not prepared to advocate an expansion of the New Deal programmes, neither was he willing to dismantle them. Recognizing the fragile nature of his Presidential coalition, he was confronted with the dilemma of administering government policies which his party was uneasy about. The response to the recessions of 1954 and 1958 demonstrates the limits imposed by ideology. Because action would

require additional public expenditure, Eisenhower was unwilling to introduce counter-cyclical policies. On both occasions, the electoral consequences were severe, with the Republicans losing significant

support at mid-term elections. After 1958 Eisenhower faced a Congress dominated by the Democrats, and one increasingly committed to

The United States." Conservative Politics in a Liberal Society


government intervention and activism (Ambrose, 1984: 158-9, 460, Sundquist, 1968). Richard Nixon appreciated this more than Eisenhower and attempted to develop policies more appropriate to the

circumstances. The Failure of Reformed Republicanism The Eisenhower administration faced a dilemma encountered by conservative parties elsewhere at this time: f i t became 'too progressive' it would lose its traditional conservative base, while if it adopted a coherent conservative programme it could easily alienate moderate or centrist voters upon whom electoral success depended. In the US these difficulties were compounded by a long-term trend towards liberalism rather than conservatism. On economic issues, race, and welfare, an increasing section of the American electorate accepted what was essentially the Democratic view of policy (Page and Shapiro, 1982). Although economic issues lost some of their saliency in an era of prosperity, this is not as clearcut as at first it might seem. Reflecting this, foreign policy (and later civil rights) proved to be the issues of most concern to the public. However, economic issues regained their

saliency when, as in 1954 and 1958, recessions threatened growth (Nic et al., 1979:99, Gallup, 1972). Throughout this period, most Americans believed that while a recession might occur, it would not be as severe as that of the 1930s. This did not imply that the electorate was insensitive to the issue. Indeed, as voting patterns demonstrated,the Republicans paid a heavy price in the 1954 and 1958 elections for allowing the spectre of

unemployment to emerge. The electorate operated on the assumption that there might be short-term downturns, but that government should

and could control the economy to prevent any return to the 19305. In 1958 a majority believed that the government should take action to reduce the levels of unemployment. To a large extent the Republicans

continued to be perceived as the party of depression, while the Democrats were seen as the party of prosperity by a wide margin (42

per cent to 31 per cent). Eisenhower had asserted in 1956 that 'the Republican Party is the party of the future'. This however did not reflect the reality of the 1950s. Despite Eisenhower's success in 1956 the Republicans were operating in an environment increasingly influenced by ideas alien to

conservativism. Eisenhower may have toyed with the idea of creating a new moderate party of the centre, but his instincts and those of his party reflected the cautious conservatism of traditional Republicanism.

To be the party of the future the Republicans would have had to maintain control over the presidency, make further inroads into


of Contemporary

The Transformation


democratic dominance at congressional level, and set a new policy agenda. In reality, it was the Democrats rather than the Republicans who achieved this by 1960. Kennedy's narrow victory over Nixon underestimates the extent to which the Democrats had achieved political hegemony by this date. Table 9-1 shows that there was considerable support for the policies being promoted by the Democrats. When, in response to this, Eisenhower reasserted traditional Republican policy, the electorate rejected this alternative. Table 9.1

Public approval


proposed .legislation fnvofving state





% 56 76 63 41

Full employment

Federal aid to schools Civil rights School integration

(28) (19)b (18) (42)

58 (23) 65 (25) 62 (18)

41 (38)

a Figures in brackets refer to percentage opposed to item. h


Source: Sundquist, $968:442-50.

In policy terms by the end of the 1950s the Republican leadership was much further to the right on virtually all issues than the Democrats, but also further to the right of their own followers, while Democrats

were very close to their own followers and to rank and file Republicans Table 9.2

Voters' confidence in parties' handling

of important

problems, /959 (percentages) Democrats

No difference


31 14

28 46

29 25

12 15


35 35


19 22

40 50

27 20

31 69

45 20



More confidence in: Republicans


Keeping peace, foreign policy Unemployment Integration, racial disputes, civil rights National deface Ecomonie problems (prices, taxes, etc.)

Space, Sputnik, Missiles Education Farm problems Nuclear testing Labour Union

s 26 21 12 5 23


7 9 12 9 19





All others





All problems






Source: AIPO, 31 March 1959. Cited in Sundquist, 1968:464.

The United States: Conservative Poetics in a Liberal Society


(Sundquist, 1968: 455). Table 9.2 confirms Democratic dominance on virtually every issue. Only on foreign policy did the Republicans possess an advantage, and even here the advantage was slight. On domestic issues the Democrats had gained the ascendancy by 1959. Finally, for the 1950s only one group (northern upper-middle-class white Protestants) were unquestionably Republican, all other subgroups were to a greater or lesser extent Democrat- This was 3.

reflection of the continuing relevance of the New Deal coalition and the stability' of party preference (Nic et al., 1979: 216-17, Wattenberg, 1986). The attempt to formulate a moderate Republicanism, particularly by Nixon, went unrealized by 1960. Eisenhower was an important stabilizing force for the party while in office, his electoral support remained tenuous, however, and did not automatically adhere to other Republican candidates (Ambrose, 1987). The Liberal Hour Between 1960 and 1966 the Kennedy and Johnson administrations asserted liberal dominance over the policy agenda: on economic matters Keynesianism dominated, on social issues liberalism, on foreign policy internationalist assumptions- The Republican Party retained little support throughout these years. In 1964 the party opposed Johnson with an explicitly right-wing programme and candidate. Barry Goldwater had criticized the Eisenhower administration for its compromise with the New Deal, arguing that the party should promote a. clear conservative ideological choice for voters. This was provided in the 1964 party platform: in effect the Republicans sought to reverse the liberalizing trends of the late 1950s and early 1960s, particularly on race. This approach seriously divided the party ,

a division which was exacerbated by Nelson Rockefeller's open criticism of Goldwater and by Goldwater's view that 'extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice'. More significantly, for the 1964 election , is the evidence that the Great Society programme was extremely Table 9.3 Pub he response to Johnson legislation

_ __


- -

% ...





Voting rights for Negroes Cutting excise tax



Federal aid to education



College scholarships Medical care for aged

89 82

II 18

Anti~pove1 programme



Source: Harris Poll for Washington Poor,9 January 1966. Cited in Sundquist, 1968:496.


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

popular among the electorate. Table 9.3 isolates some of the main items of the Kennedy Johnson programmes and the public perception of them at the end of 1965. In every case Johnson won overwhelming approval. By the mid-1960s traditional Republican conservatism retained very little appeal in the face of the self-confident liberalism of the Johnson administration. Moreover, liberalism at the federal level was reinforced by rapid social change, one of the consequences of which was greater

support for liberal policy-making (Gallup, 1972, Issel, 1985). Republicanism appeared to have lost its way by 1965, conservative policies were discredited, and the party seriously divided on fundamental issues. Yet, the 1964 election marked the last effective stand of the New Deal coalition. This coalition began to fragment, initiating a decade of political change (dealignment), and was accompanied by economic and social changes of considerable significance (Issel, 1985). Barry Goldwater's support in 1964 reflected one feature of this. He carried only six states: Arizona was to be expected, but the other five were in the deep South and this was the first occasion in the twentieth century that such a bloc had moved to the Republicans (although Louisiana had gone for Eisenhower in 1956). If the Goldwater vote in

1964 is compared to Nixon's in 1960, each candidate carried five states in the South. However, not one of Nixon's states was in the deep South, while all of Goldwater's were. By 1964, the South had become increasingly alienated from the Democratic Party and its presidents and was prepared to break on the race issue. This issue provided another strand, alongside economic conservatism, in the Republicans' attempt to evolve a new ideology. Goldwater provided the focus for mobilization by the white South against the Democratic Party (Lamis, 1984:l9).

At first this was expressed in negative terms. As can be seen in Table 9.4, there was a rapid decline in the approval rating for the President's policies. Table 9.4

Percentage approving Presidents handling

of selected

issues October 1965

September 1966




The war on poverty

60 60

49 43 41

Labour-management problems Taxes





War in Vietnam Keeping economy healthy

Civil rights

Source: Sundquist, 1968:497.

The United States: Conservative Polfrzbs in a Liberal Society


National priorities also changed. In 1964 the main issues of concern

were poverty, social welfare, civil rights, and general foreign policy. By 1968 the main items were Vietnam (43.3 per cent) and protest and disorder (18.7 per cent) (Abramowitz, 1980: 192). Furthermore, by 1966 there was considerable disquiet among Democratic voters outside the South concerning racial integration (concern with the consequences rather than the objective). Race, the Vietnam War, urban crime and violence, and inflation undermined the class solidarity evident within the Democratic coalition since the 1930s. None of the issues were easily amenable to the conventional Democratic approach , in the short term, at least, the Republicans were able to gain advantage from Democratic disarray.

The Crisis of Liberalism While it was not inevitable that the Republicans would harness this discontent, the Nixon strategy in 1968 was based on an appeal to sections of American society alienated by the changes since 1960. Phillips (1970) suggested that there was an 'emerging Republican majority' which if courted could be turned into a real and consistent majority for the party. This involved jettisoning the liberal Republican wing and seeking votes in the South and West, and among the white ethnic electorate in Northern urban areas. Nixon attracted about a quarter of Johnson's 1964 voters, while at the same time seeing the defection from the Republican Party of affluent, well-educated, suburban and northern Republican voters. Nixon's 'silent majority' was one outcome of the process which moved the weight of Republican strength away from its traditional Midwest-northern axis towards the

South, the West, and the Pacific. Though not a conservative in the ideological sense, Nixon's strategy presupposed continuing Goldwater's appeal, but expanding the electoral base outside the deep South. It also involved attracting diverse constituencies by responding to their fears. A further trend which offered a window of opportunity for Republicans was the emergence of new issues and the ideological hardness on the Left and Right. The ideological horizon during the Eisenhower era was not clearcut. By the late 1960s both Left and Right had hardened their ideological positions. This was being accompanied by a significant growth in political consistency: those who are liberal or conservative tend to be so on a wide range of issues. Whereas the centre (that is, moderates) predominated during the 1950s, it is possible to detect a shift away from the centre to both the Left and Right as a result of the changes during the 1960s. However, the most significant gains

were made by the Right (Nie et al., 1979: 143). The political parties also reflected these changes: by 1972 the Democrats are generally more

174 The Transformation

of Contemporary Conservatism

liberal than they had been in 1960 and the Republicans more conservative. Thus, by the end of the 1960s a transition had taken place: both the Democrats and the Republicans had ceased to be catch-all parties. oh now concentrated On building an electorate committed to a set of ideological cues which it was believed could mobilize an effective electoral coalition:


A generalized liberabconservative ideology would seem to imply a consistent set of beliefs in the areas of race, welfare, economics , and foreign

policy, as well as consistency between these areas and attitudes towards civil liberties. Our data indicate that this consistency did not exist in 1956. It had come into being by 1968 and has persisted to 1973. (Nie et al., 19?9: 133)

The 1968 election demonstrated that the appeal of liberalism was limited to economic issues and to some social issues. On the issues with the most pronounced saliency in 1968, the Republicans were perceived positively. This election also demonstrated that class polarization, which had been central to the success of the New Deal coalition, had weakened. Economic policy continued to be a factor determining differences between the working class and other sections of the electorate: that is, the working class were more liberal on this issue than were white-collar workers or the middle class- However, on most other issues, in particular the constellation of issues relating to nationalism, civil rights, and law and order, the working class were far more conservative than other sections of the electorate. The attractiveness of George Wallace for white northern working-class voters was closely associated with his populism on economic issues and his conservatism on social issues (Glenn, 1973).

For the Democrats, 1968 and 1972 opened up the possibility of decline: its Southern white political base had been seriously disrupted, its hold over the white working class had been shattered by Wallace

and the Republicans, its policies tended to alienate rather than attract its traditional supporters. Moreover, demographic, economic, and

social changes tended to move against those areas where the Democrats had been prominent, to areas where the Republican appeal was strong and increasing. Both the Democrats and the Republicans changed

their character. The Democrats embraced the philosophy of the New Left/new politics movement: anti-war, environmentalism


feminism. By integrating the 'counter culture' into the mainstream of Democratic politics, the support base for the party was further narrowed. The electoral debacle of 1972 demonstrated the limits of such an appeal and its dangers. The Republicans at first fared better, t.hey were well poised in 1968

and 1972 to mobilize the majority disaffected by the turmoil of the 19603. Nixon's 'silent majority' involved an attempt to form a right-

The United States: Conservative Politics in a Liberal Society


wing coalition out of the diverse forces disaffected with these changes: Southern whites, northern white ethnics, the business community and the Christian conservatives in both the north and the west. This was remarkably successful electorally. Even before Watergate, however, it was clear that Nixon had not built up a policy agenda to counter that of the Democrats. Nixon's attraction was essentially negative, resting on dissatisfaction with the changes in US society. Although the Nixon administration possessed a stronger sense of conservative ideology

than his Republican predecessors, this was rarely transformed into actual policy implementation. 'Nixon had constructed a successful electoral coalition but without uniting voters around any affirmative

ideology or programme' (Ginsberg and Shefter, 1985: 19). The Nixon administration remained essentially liberal on economic, foreign, and social policy. Even though Nixon may not have been temperamentally a liberal, political pressure and the strength of continuity prevented him from breaking decisively with liberal policies. Moreover, as Nixon himself noted, his first cabinet contained 'a group less conservative than Eisenhower's cabinet, in fact somewhat to the left of my own centrist position' (quoted in Reichley, 1981: 77). If Nixon's administration is contrasted with those of Kennedy and Johnson, its ideological pole is to the right. An evaluation ofits policy output in terms of domestic policy, economic policy, and foreign policy would conclude that a centrist position would be a more appropriate description. Nixon was unable to build an ideological alternative to the New Deal or Great Society programmes because, despite his conservative leanings, he was enmeshed in its structure. What he could successfully oppose was the attempt to extend the social liberalism of the counter culture (Reichley, 1981). It is questionable whether Nixon could have reformulated a new conservatism for the 19705 - one which would have given the Republicans the advantage over the Democrats. At best, Nixon can be seen as a transitional figure between the general consensus of the period 1945 to 1964, and the more

ideologically structured politics of the l 970s and 1980s (Phillips, 1983: 50). The Nixon administration balanced precariously between the new and the old. Kissinger's foreign policy challenged most conservative certainties, while domestic and international economic policy proved unattractive to the right generally. Despite the promise of a conservative revival, the administration continued to implement the New Deal. The Formation of a Conservative Constituency

Nixon's failure to create a cohesive right-wing alternative accelerated the pressure within the Republican Party to devise such a strategy.


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

Subsequent to his resignation, a new assertive conservatism emerged both within the Republican Party itself and within the society generally. By the mid- 1970s it is possible to identify significant changes in the political culture which redirected political behaviour throughout the state. The dealignrnent of significant sections of the electorate provided the opportunity for the Republicans to mobilize new support. Growing independent voting patterns in the South and among the young complemented this process, these voters (often former Democrats) rarely joined the Republicans, but tended to vote for that party. While there has not been a realignment similar to that which occurred during the 1930s, there is greater flexibility and volatility in voting behaviour. This has allowed the Republicans to challenge the Democrats in virtually every region, although with varying degrees of success. Change in the political culture is not simply about electoral behaviour, such behaviour presupposes sets of assumptions to which an individual elector can respond with the feeling that the policy implicitly reinforces the perception of political reality (Girvin, 1987c). During the 1970s a new and coherent conservative ideology emerged which challenged American liberalism and set the agenda for the Reagan administration. At first, this ideology was conceived as a reaction to liberal excesses between 1960 and 1970. But it was not reactionary, it sought both to challenge liberalism and to provide a conservative policy framework which would be superior to the alternative. A number of trends can be detected. At first traditional concerns were dominant: race and communism. The twin challenges of racial integration and military defeat in South-East Asia mobilized conservative opinion in deface of certain values. However, for the most part conservatives were forced, often reluctantly, to acknowledge the moral

superiority of racial equality, but criticized the use of government agencies to disrupt settled communities (bussing, etc.). In deface, the shift was from active prosecution of the war in Vietnam to advocacy of a strong deface capacity. These issues were supplemented by a more general concern that the counter culture, and its influence after

Watergate, was creating disorder and destroying traditional values. The Right countered the growth of feminism, gay liberation, and environmentalism by mobilizing lower status opinion against what it identified as unrepresentative and/or upper status minorities. This was reinforced by widespread disquiet among many sections of society that the moral changes of the 1960s and 1970s had gone too far and that the consequences of these changes were increasingly negative (Warren,

1976). Furthermore, the apparent failure of liberal economic policies alienated many sections of the society. Consequently, government

The United States: Conservative Politics in a Liberal Society


intervention and regulation 'became increasingly unpopular. The economic crisis which began in 1974 provided a further effective field for mobilization. When the oil crisis was accompanied by inflation, stagflation and increased taxation, the Right was well-placed to offer an alternative policy package. That it was the Right rather than the Left which benefited from the post- I 974 crisis is not without historical

precedent. However these years are a period of opportunity in which alternative policies vied for electoral support. The Right therefore concentrated on three central themes during the second half of the 1970s, each of which chaff ended liberal hegemony.

In response to economic crisis the Republicans (and others) criticized the levels of public spending and the degree of government regulation of the economy. As a direct response to this and to the environmentalisrn of the 'new politics', the Right reasserted the primacy of industrial growth based on strict market criteria. Monetarism, supplyside economics, and liberal individualism were all used to challenge government intervention. The Right reflected the concern of the business community that Federal restrictions were preventing them from maximizing profits, investment, and employment. New Right economics glamourized the entrepreneur as hero and nostalgically recalled the economic policies of Calvin Coolidge (Gilder, 1982; Phillips, 1983). Although not clear cut, the main division between Carter and Ford during the 1976 election concerned very different approaches to economic policy: whereas Ford emphasized the dangers of inflation, taxation, and deficits, Carter's main concern was with unemployment. Ford may not have fully embraced New Right economics in 1976, but he established a baseline for Republicans to identify with.

The second area of mobilization centred on deface policy and foreign affairs. Military defeat, the failure of detente, and the perceived weakening of American geopolitical power led to demands for increases in deface expenditure, and a more aggressive stance against the Soviet Union (Girvin, 1987a). Carter's commitment to ratifying the

Panama Canal treaties offered a focus for counter-mobilization, as did Soviet treatment of Jews, and later events in Afghanistan, Africa and Poland. In contrast to the liberal view, the Right asserted that the United States was weakening and that liberal foreign policy presumed this. Their alternative involved building American power and reasserting its hegemony in every sphere, but particularly in the

military area. The saliency of social issues provided another focus for conservative

mobilization. The growth of secularism and the liberalism of the major

religious denominations alienated many traditional Christians. As at other times in American history, the disaffected seceded to join or form


The Transformation

of Contemporary


new churches, usually fundamentalist or evangelical. In addition, the fundamentalist churches expanded rapidly and they took on an overt political stance to challenge the influence of liberal politics on such questions as abortion, homosexuality, school prayer and pornography.

Their objective was to reclaim the traditional American values of the family, moral certitude, and Christianity from the liberal elites in politics, the judiciary, and in the federal government. After 1976, an increasing percentage of fundamentalists and evangelicals moved towards the Republican Party (Liebman and Wutnow, 1983, Peele, 1984). Moreover, these concerns were shared by many who identified neither with the Republican Party or fundamentalism, but who believed that liberal politics no longer addressed their needs. While these sections of the electorate may not have been conservatives, they could be attracted by a conservative message. These trends were accompanied by a further movement to the right on the part of the

Republican Party, and the emergence of Ronald Reagan as the leading exponent of a coherent conservative programme (Cannon, 1982). These were the mobilizing issues for the Right. Yet it was possible that the conservative view would have limited appeal and would not be transformed into an electorally significant coalition. What occurred between 1976 and 1980 was that the conservatives attracted a wide constituency for its policies. Two interrelated factors provided the trigger for Republican success in 1980. The first was the failure of

Carter's attempt to revive the New Deal: although Carter was conservative on some issues, he was in favour of most liberal policies.

Preferences also changed during the Carter administration, whereas during the 1950s, rising unemployment seriously affected the incur bent, the main issue from 1975 onwards was inflation. When this is coupled with the so-called tax revolt associated with Proposition 13, it

led to generalized opposition to big government, and particularly its cost to the individual. Furthermore, as Ladd and Lipset (1980: 7-8) have noted, many lower income groups blamed government intervention for the inflationary spiral. Fear of inflation during the 19705 proved to be a potent rallying point for those who sought to reverse the

advances of federal regulation and political liberalism. This was further facilitated by a dramatic increase in the amount of tax deducted

from the average wage earner (Barry, 1985: 137, Ladd, l985a: 8). Inflation was also probably the key to Reagan's success in 1980 and again in 1984. Whereas presidential candidates with radical policies had been rejected by the electorate in 1964 and 1972, this did not prove to be the case with Reagan who defeated Carter on a programme which was consistently conservative across the main policy areas: the economy, deface, and social policy. Most assessments of the 1980 election agree that Reagan did not receive an unambiguous mandate

The United States: Conservative Politics in a Liberal Society


for a radical conservative strategy. The upsurge in the Right's support base in 1980 has to be contrasted with the long-term evolution of opinion. Davis (198011149) has suggested that the long-term pattern in public opinion is liberal, but that within this process it is possible to identify conservative tendencies. These tendencies may be short-term, but their significance might be underrated. A distinction should be made between social liberalism and governmental or economic liberalism. The commitment to the former has increased over time: a. significant proportion of the population affirm support for according rights to individuals in areas such as personal morality, equal opportunity, personal autonomy and toleration. In contrast, during the 19705 there was a reaction against governmental liberalism which involved treating certain groups (blacks, women, homosexuals) preferably as groups and not as individuals. Associated with this was a reaction against the consequences of the libera1~indL1ced intervention in the economy (Ladd and Lipset, 1980; Davis, 1980, Page and

Shapiro, 1982). In the areas of economic and foreign policy, public opinion had moved to the Right during the 1970s. The economy was the major concern, but there was detectable disquiet by 1978 that the United States was spending too little on deface. Furthermore, with the social dimension, it is possible to detect two strains of opinion: increased liberalism on individual rights, but strong authoritarianism in areas concerned with drugs, law and order, and welfare. Thus, by the late 1970s diverse constituencies within the US were ready to reject liberalism, though not necessarily to embrace conservatism as an ideology (Goodman, Jr, 1983; Page and Shapiro, 1982: 27-30). It was this opportunity, however, which laid the basis for Reagan's challenge to Carter.

Carter's views were those of a moderate Democrat and essentially the 1980 election pitted two candidates with clear and contrasting ideological approaches to policy questions. Carter had, between 1976 and 1980, worked within the institutions established by the New Deal, while cautious, his approach still reflected liberal tenets. For most of his presidency, Carter's main concern had been with unemployment rather than with inflation. Yet it was inflation which had become the central issue for a significant section of the electorate: by 1980 unemployment stood at 7 per cent while inflation had risen rapidly to 12,6 per cent. While these factors alone did not undermine the Carter presidency, the policy instruments available to his administration proved inadequate to meet the dual challenge of inflation and unemployment (Woolcock, 1984). In the first place, Carter did not

wish to see unemployment rise, but there was a danger that government policies actually increased the inflationary spiral. Secondly, stagflation


The Transformation

of Contemporary


was a new phenomenon which the available policies were not designed to combat. Thirdly, the government was constrained at one level by the hostility among the electorate to the expansion of government intervention, and by the electorate's belief that the economy was the main issue of concern and that inflation was the most salient aspect of economic issues (Abramson et al., 1982: l2l-5).

Democratic confusion on economic issues was compounded by foreign policy difficulties, and by ambiguous signals from its electoral base on some social issues. In this context, it was relatively easy for a Republican to challenge the President. Reagan's win in 1980, however, reflected more than a swing in the electoral pendulum. There is a general consensus that the election involved a rejection of Carter rather than an endorsement of Reagan, and more particularly an endorsement of his conservative policies (Abramson et al., 1982, Markus, 1982: 560, Polsby, 1982: 53). Yet the evidence is not as

clearcut as this. As in roost elections, retrospective voting had a crucial impact on the outcome. Carter's record was evaluated negatively by a majority of the electorate, thus ensuring Reagan's victory. Despite the long-term strength of Democratic identifiers, the Republicans in 1980 were able to capture the Presidency and the Senate.

It might, therefore, be suggested that the Republicans simply took advantage of favourable conditions to place their candidate in the White House (Abramson et al., 1982: 5). lasso, then Reagan's mandate might be similar to that of Eisenhower in 1952 or 1956. The political environment, however, was different: issue saliency had been transformed. A majority of Americans in October 1980 disapproved of Carter's handling of his job as President. In the crucial area of economic policy, the Carter administration was perceived negatively on both inflation and unemployment, while this was reinforced by the belief that individuals were worse offunder a Democratic president. In

contrast to earlier phases, the Democrats were new no longer perceived as the party of prosperity, this view was accorded to the Republicans. Retrospection may account for some of the trend towards Reagan, but does not account fully for the collapse of public support for Democratic policies during the election campaign. In the sensitive areas of economic policy and foreign affairs, Carter's approval ratings slumped between February and October of election year (Markus, 1982: 550). On these issues, Reagan won the debate which allowed him to present an alternative to the Democrats. This can also be detected in the failure of the Democrats to attract core constituencies which had traditionally been the basis of their success. A majority of young

first-time voters no longer supported the Democrats (in 1964, 75 per cent had done so), neither did Southern whites (some two-thirds of

The United States: Conservative Politics in a Liberal Society


whom supported Reagan). However, even among traditional Democratic supporters in the north-east and among the white ethnic working class, Democratic dominance declined. Among the poor, union families, and Catholics, there was a perceptible decline in Democratic support. This in turn was supplemented by the Democratic failure to carry any but a small number of the main metropolitan areas in 1980 (Ladd, l985b: 14-15, Barnes and Weiner, 1985: 49-50, Polsby, 1982: 47). If long-term trends are considered, the Democrats have suffered a substantial erosion of their political base. Reagan's victory might be considered 'normal' while that of Carter in 1976 considered 'abnormal', in that the Democrats are finding it more difficult to win presidential elections (Phillips, 1983: 60). Reagan and the Conservatiye Opportunity

Despite this, Reagan did not receive a mandate for radical conservative change, but he did receive a mandate. There was a tension between the rejection of Carter and the acceptance of Reagan's policy framework . This Ifmiired mandate meant that the Reagan administration acquired considerable political leverage. The electorate gave Reagan an opportunity to carry into effect some, at least, of his election promises . On these issues, Republican ideology and public opinion coincided in 1980 and allowed the new administration to implement some core

elements during the first two years of the Reagan Presidency. The median voter in 1980 held inconsistent views on a wide range of issues: on some issues such as abortion, the electorate were considerably more liberal than Reagan, on others such as deface spending they were close to his position. But even on the two issues which divided the Republicans and Democrats on ideological grounds, government

spending and the trade-off between inflation and unemployment, the median voter offered contradictory signals. The trend was towards conservatism, but not decisively so (Abramson et al., 1982: l25-6). Despite this ambiguity, a new Republican coalition was forged in 1980, one which promised to shift the direction of policy to the right. After his election, Reagan was clear on this point. He confronted the main assumptions of New Deal liberalism. He challenged the commitment to expansionary economics, a commitment which justified Federal intervention and regulation. In its place he elaborated

a policy mix which included the often contradictory inputs from traditional individualist economics, supply side, and monetarism. In addition, while Reagan generally opposed government intervention, he was quite willing to accelerate deface spending. At the centre of

this economic strategy was the supply-side view that a reduction in taxation would generate further economic growth without reducing


The Transformation

of Contemporary


the resources available to government. More particularly, this was linked to a rejection of the upward trend in government spending. Unlike his predecessors from Roosevelt through Carter, Reagan actively attempted to reduce and limit the role of government in the

economy and society. Moreover, as part of this process, his administration attempted to move power back to the state level, the so-called New Federalism. Although Reagan's political appeal in 1980 unified all conservative strands, his administration was careful to concentrate on a narrow range of issues, basically, economic and foreign policy. The administration explicitly dodged the confrontation with social liberalism, recognizing that this could lose it support, although the fundamentalist Right has been disappointed by this inaction (Cannon, 1982: 318). This does not entail that the Reagan administration is opposed to the Right's social agenda, only that it realizes that it does not have the power to achieve its ends. While he has not always been

successful in his objectives, Reagan, unlike his predecessors, has refused to sanction new programmes which would involve extra expenditure (Schick, 1984, Peterson, 1985, Weaver, 1985). Between 1981 and 1984, Reagan fulfilled a number of his early promises. Congress implemented most of his economic and budgetary legislation while also agreeing to change the direction of foreign policy. Although the electoral momentum was maintained in November 1982, economic

policy began subsequently to encounter more coherent opposition. Between 1983 and 1984, there was a virtual stalemate between Congress and the administration, a stalemate which still remains unresolved. Despitethe recession of 1982, Reagan's economic policies continued to be favored by the electorate throughout 1983. Some 70 per cent believed that there would be an improvement in the economy during 1984, while 56 per cent believed that this would benefit them personally. In general, most believed that economic buoyancy would return, 57 per cent thought the Republican economic programme was already successful by 1983, while 71 per cent believed it would be successful in the near future. This optimism did not deflect public opinion from recognizing the nature of what Reaganomics was doing; 51 per cent believed the policies were fair while 49 per cent did not (data from Public Opinion, 7(1): 22-40).

This division has not been channeled into political hostility to Reagan. Indeed it would appear that the electorate are making choices about economic policy and trading benefits to themselves against losses to others. By 1984 most Americans believed that they were better off than they had been in 1980. The only groups who did not share in

this belief were blacks, the unemployed, and those on low incomes; as blacks and Hispanics are overwhelmingly concentrated in these


The United Srazes: Conservative Politics in a Liberal Society


groups, the political threat to the Republicans is further reduced. Additionally, while many Americans were concerned about the consequences of the administration's policies, this did not involve a return to liberalism. By the middle of 1984 inflation was down to 4 per cent, while unemployment was also declining. Most economic indicators were positive and, in the short term at least, Reaganomics appeared to work. This may also account for an increase in Republican

identifiers between 1980 and 1984, particularly among the young (Kiewiet and Rivers, 1985).

The 1984 election confirmed that American political culture had been modified, but not radically changed. The patterns at national and local level had become stronger and the trend towards the Republicans

at presidential level more secure than heretofore. Table 9.5 compares the support for Reagan and his Democratic opponents in 1980 and 1984, utilizing a wide range of variables. While the swing to the Republicans is not uniform, the trend is strong and apparently continuing. It is possible to compare Eisenhower's 1956 victory with that of

Reagan in 1984 (Wattenberg, 1986: 144). However, the nature of success was different in each case. Eisenhower received a personal endorsement from the electorate, but not a mandate for radical policy changes. Indeed, Eisenhower's electoral coalition was weak and had collapsed by 1960. This is not the case with Reagan, his mandate was far stronger than that of Eisenhower. Republican success in 1984 was a consequence of three factors: presidential control of the policy agenda, its partial implementation by 1984, and Republican unity in Congress. These factors were closely linked to the policy mix which the Reagan administration was careful to present. On economic and foreign policy, the President was able to acquire a broad conservative consensus with Congress, a consensus which shifted the policy framework effectively to the Right (Stockman, 1986, Le Loup, 1982). The implementation of the conservative agenda depended on Reagan attracting regular support from the 'Conservative Coalition'

within Congress. This Coalition, a voting alliance between Republicans and Southern Democrats, proved to be a linchpin of the administrate son's success during 1981 and 1982. In 1981 the Coalition actively supported a wide range of Reagan initiatives. Its success was the highest on record. Not only could the Reagan administration depend

on most Republicans and a majority of Southern Democrats in 198 I and 1982, it could also expect support from a significant minority of Democrats from the West and Midwest (Arieff, 1982: 51). The highpoint of the Coalition's influence occurred between 1981

and 1983, thereafter the balance shifted somewhat. Reagan experienced difficulties in processing his policies by this date, and the Republican


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

Table 9.5

Presidential vote, by group, /980 and /984 (percentages) Percentage of 1984



US total Men

Women Whites Blacks Hispanics Age 18-29

Age 30-44 Age 45-49 Age 60+ 0-11 years school High school graduate Some college l College graduate White Protestant Catholic Jewish Born-again white


Union household Non-union household Professional and managerial White-collar worker

Blue-collar worker Unemployed East Midwest South West Southern whites Republicans Independents Democrats Liberals Moderates Conservatives

IUU 47 53

Change Swing 1980 vote 1984 vote 1980-84 to Reagan Carter Reagan Mondale Rep. Dem. Rep,

41 3? 42


41 36 45 36 85 59 44 36 39 41

59 61 57 66 9 33 58 ss 60 63

34 90 65 41 42 39 36





51 55

43 35

60 60

39 38

+4 +9 +5

52 63

35 31

59 13


+7 +5

49 39

42 45



63 41 55




13 14

50 47 39 47


36 10

3 24 34 23 19 8 30 30

29 51 26 3 15 28

3 24 28 29 18 25.

35 26 38 1? 44 35

51 44 47 55 11 33 43 54 55 54

5I 52 53 61

86 55 26 25 48 72

33 33



+10 +11 -2 0

+15 +4 +5 +9

-3 +6,5

-2 +6.5 +5 -3.5 +6 -3 +9 -3 -1 +6 0 +2.5 -5 +7 -2 +3 -4 +6.5



55 32

26 44 66

+1 +10 -5 -1-7.5 +6 +2 +2 14 -7 +21

80 45 64

20 54 36

+17 -13 +15 +4 +5 -0.5 +9 +3 +3

62 59




40 46

51 42 40

31 52

68 47

61 63

38 36




26 29

28 7 35 73 70

54 81

44 34 35 9 30 67 60 42 23


+6 +1 *I-2.5



+5 +9 +6

+5 -1 0

-8 +17 +5 +5 +10 -2 +11 -8 +6 +6 +11 -7 +6 -2


0 +5 +3 -12.5 0 +6 +9.5 0 +9 +4

+5 +].5

0 +6 +4 +I()

-3 -3





+1 +7

+4 -5

Source: Schneider, $985: 231-2.

Party was finding it difficult to hold the Coalition together. The decline in the unity of the Coalition is in contrast to the enhanced unity among

Democrats. The Conservative Coalition appeared on fewer occasions in 1983 and was overall less successful than in 1981 or 1982. Republican

control of the Senate ensured that policies unacceptable to the President were defeated, even when the House supported them.

The United States: Conservative Polities in a Liberal Society


Southern Democrats moved closer to their northern counterparts on economic issues such as welfare spending, those elected in 1982 tended to be more moderate than their predecessors (Granat, 1983). Increased budget deficits gave the Democrats greater flexibility in supporting welfare. Furthermore, when the Republicans attempted to foster policy on social matters in 1982 and 1983, one consequence was divisions within Republican ranks and greater cohesion among

Democrats. Nor did Reagan's victory in 1984 enhance the Coalition In 1985, the President lost more votes in the House than he won, while in the Senate there was a slump in his success rate (Hook, 1986, Rapp 1986)

While there were certain limits to what an assertive conservative majority could achieve, particularly on social and moral issues, nevertheless by 1984 the trend evident in 1980 of a constituency open to some of Reagan's policies was confirmed. This was evident during the election campaign: Mondale's policies and his coalition-building appeared archaic in the new harsh environment of the 1980s (Nelson 1985). Throughout the campaign, most of the electorate believed that the economy remained the main issue: Reagan was credited with controlling inflation and reviving the economy, while the budget deficit was either not rated seriously or not thought to be his fault. On virtually every economic indicator and on foreign policy issues Reagan scored decisively over Mondale. On some issues (such as fairness, the poor, civil rights and the environment) Mondale had a clear lead, but the electorate, while not unconcerned about them, did

not find their salience central (Schneider, 1985: 216~l9, Public Opinion 7(l): 36-8).

Thus, while Reagan is often explained away as a popular individual, the evidence for the period 1980 and 1984 does not allow for this

interpretation. When his policies were not working as was the case in 1982 and 1983, his overall popularity also slumped. This occurred again in 1987, as a consequence of the 'Irangate' controversy. While in power, Reagan successfully implemented his programme and received a further endorsement in 1984. This election did not involve a realignment, but it demonstrated the persistence of a conservative policy agenda, one that continued to prove attractive to voters who

had not traditionally supported the Republicans. The Republican majority in 1984 may still be considered a 'brittle one (Ladd, 1985b). The long-term implications of this success are not clear. While Reagan has changed the policy agenda and mobilized electoral support for this change, he does not appear to have transformed the minority status of his party. Conservative dominance in the United States requires the fulfillment of a number of conditions' continuing control of the Presidency probably for another three


The TronsjOrmoOon of Contemporary Conservatism

elections, continuing control of the policy agenda and its partial implementation,

as well as successful penetration of the state

legislators. If these conditions were fulfilled, then it is probable that the Republicans would become the majority party (Lowi, 1984). There can be little doubt that the Republican Party is now essentially a. conservative party. Increasingly, divisions within the party concern the nature of conservatism rather than whether it should adopt a conservative or liberal approach to policy (Gurwitt, 1986: 802-7). In

1983 and 1984, over 90 per cent of Republicans in the House and the Senate voted on the conservative side on economic and foreign policy issues. On social issues support drops to roughly 75 per cent and 80 per cent respectively. This overwhelming conservativeness of Republicans disguises some regional differences: Republicans in the north-east tend to be more conservative than Democrats, but less so than the average

Republican elsewhere. In the South, Republicans tend to be the most partisan, even in what is a conservative environment (calculated from Barons and Ujifusa, 1985, and Congressional Quarterly Weekly

Report, various issues). The conservative nature of the Republican Party has also proved to

be attractive to a wider constituency than heretofore. On a number of important issues, such as the economy, foreign policy and some social

issues Americans have become less liberal over the past two decades. This has allowed them to challenge the Democrats at every political level. Although the Republicans had a shaky majority status in the Senate after 1980 (lost in 1986) and a minority position in the House, they have been eroding Democratic predominance since the mid19'70s. The gap between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate had been widening since 1956, but by 1980 the Republicans were able not only to narrow this gap but to reverse it. In the House of Repre-

sentatives, the Democrats had a 22 percentage-point lead over the Republicans in 1968, by 1984 it was down to 6 points (up again somewhat since 1986)- The majority of state legislatures remain under the control of the Democrats. But even this lead has been reduced: in 1976 the Democrats controlled 80 and the Republicans 18, by 1984 this had changed to 65 and 31. In 1976 the Democrats accounted for 68 per cent of all state legislators, while the Republicans accounted for 31 per

By 1984 this gap had also been narrowed and now stood at 59 and 41 per cent respectively (data calculated from Public Opinion, '/(6): 23-39) The most striking evidence for this change in Republican fortunes has occurred in the South. There the 'one party' monolith has broken down and in some states a two-party system has emerged. Even where this has not emerged, the Republicans have made serious inroads over cent,

a very short period of time. Before 1964 Republican success was

The United Staz'e5: Conserverive Politics in a Liberal Society


extremely limited: in 1948 the Republicans accounted for 2 per cent of state Senate delegates and 3 per cent of state House delegates, by 1974 this had grown to 10 per cent and 12 per cent respectively, by 1984 it had grown .to 18 per cent and 23.8 per cent (calculated from Bass and De Vries, 1976: 33-7, and Barons and Ujitlusa, 1985). In the past, party identification was closely correlated with voting behaviour, this is no longer the case. Despite strong Democratic identification in the South, over 70 per cent of Southern whites voted for Reagan in 1984. Moreover, in the South the move from Democratic identification to Independents reflects a more conditional approach to that Party. There is also a strong tendency for Southern whites to be more conservative than the average Democratic voter, a tendency reinforced by the similarity between Southern whites and Republicans on a wide range of issues (Public Opinion, 6(5): 33-8). Conclusion

Republican success has been based on a number of factors: a popular, if limited, policy agenda; increased electoral support both nationally and in the states, and the ability to command a majority of support in the House and Senate on crucial issues. Despite this success, Reagan has failed to transform the party system to the advantage of the Republicans. The Republican Party is currently ideologically, organizationally and financially stronger than at any time since 1945, but has yet to effectively replace the Democrats in the House or in the individual states. Although Reagan received almost 60 per cent of the popular vote in 1984 and carried 370 districts, Republican House candidates were only successful in 49 per cent of these districts (Cook, 1985). The 1986 mid-term elections have also demonstrated the limits

to further conservative achievements. The early implementation of economic and foreign policy left a vacuum in the conservative agenda which has yet to be filled. This is particularly true on social questions , including abortion, school prayer and bussing. While the centre of gravity has moved to the right on these and associated issues, they do not command majority support within Congress. This reflects a further difficulty for the Republican Party: they require a separate majority to implement economic, social, and foreign policy. It has

proved easier to acquire a majority for economic and foreign policy than for social issues. In effect, the social issue is the weakest link, to date the fundamentalist Right has been unable to mobilize more than their core constituency on these issues. Consequently, the Reagan administration has not been prepared to promote issues which it recognizes would cause it considerable difficulty. This in turn has created further difficulties for the Party. The Christian Right is well


The Transformation

of Contemporary


organized and committed to its principles. It has begun to challenge

the conservative elites within the party in order to place the social issue at the heart of a future Republican administration. The increased influence of the Christian Right within the party may prove divisive in the future given the moral certainty involved and the mutual suspicion between the two groups (Gurwitt, 1986). The 1986 elections also indicated that Republican control over the policy agenda had weakened to a certain degree. The budget deficit, trade policy, farming and social security contributed to Democratic

successes in a number of states. These are issues on which the Democrats tend to be closer to popular opinion than the Reagan administration. Democratic control of the House and Senate after

November 1986 does not mark the end of the 'Reagan Revolution'. The Republicans remain strong, even in the House, in policy terms they often retain the advantage. The political system is more genuinely two-party (or more accurately a one-and-three~quarter party system) in that an increasing proportion of elections are effectively competitive. As a result of ticket splitting, neither party can presume a long-term advantage. In November 1986, the Democrats lost eight governorships including

Texas and Florida. None of the Democratic Senate victories were landslides, a marginal shift of 50,000 votes in five states would have maintained Republican control of the Senate (Washington Post, 6 November 1986; Wall Street Journal, 6 November 1986). More significantly perhaps are the changes to be detected in the Democratic party, few democrats at the mid-term elections were prepared to be identified as liberals. Most emphasized the need for a strong deface capacity, fiscal control, and the reassertion of patriotisrn. This can also be detected in Democratic-controlled urban areas, such as New York

and San Francisco, where Democratic adminstrations are fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. On a number of issues therefore it is possible to conclude that the political climate has become much harsher; the effectiveness of the Republican agenda can be demonstrated by the willingness of Democrats to embrace its themes. Another reflection of conservative influence is the extent to which Reagan appointees increasingly dominate the judiciary. Once the cornerstone of the liberal establishment, the judges appointed by Reagan are young, ideologically motivated, and in favour of a more restricted use

of the law (Cohodas, 1985). There are some limits to what Reagan can achieve in this area. His nomination ofludge Bork was rejected by the Senate because of Bork's radical views on the Constitution. The subsequent nomination of Judge Ginsburg foundered due to his acknowledged use of marijuana. Despite these setbacks Judge Anthony Kennedy has now been ratified by the Senate without serious

The United States: Conservative PoIzltzlcs in a Liberal Society 189 opposition. Kennedy is considered to be a pragmatist, but one who reflects the growing conservative trend within the judiciary.

Moreover, although public opinion has never been unreservedly conservative, it has tended to reinforce, rather than obstruct, Reagan's programme. The Republicans may remain the minority party, but their influence during the 1980s has moved political opinion to the right on a number of important issues. Nor have Reagan's difficulties during 1987 undermined the Republicans' commitment to conservatism. Whoever is nominated by the party for the 1988 presidential election will be a conservative, although not in the same political mould as Reagan. The extent of the change can be seen in the Democratic Party's attempt to find a presidential candidate who will

reflect the interests of the party, but appear conservative enough for the electorate- The enduring impact of Reagan will probably be the extent to which he has been able to maintain conservative credibility throughout his period of office, a major achievement in a society which has reflected liberal norms for most of this century (Lowi, 1984).

References Abramowitz, Alan I. (1980) 'The United States: Political Culture under Stress', pp.

124-76 in G.A. Almond and S.A. Verba (eds), The Civil Culture Revisited, Boston:

Little, Brown. Abramson, P.R., H.J. Aldrick, and D.W. Raf de (1982) Change and Coo tin tiity in the

/980 Elections. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press. Ambrose, Stephen E. (1984) Eisenhower, the President. London: George Allen and

Unwire. Ambrose, Stephen E. (1987) Nixon: The Education


Politician, 1913-62. New York:

Simon and Schuster.

Arieff, Irwin B. (1982) 'Conservatives Hit New High in Showdown Vote Victories', Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, 40(2): 50-55. Barnes, James A. and John C. Weichcr (1985) 'Urban Blight: The Democrats' Eroding

Metropolitan Base', Public Opinion, 8(1): 49-51. Barons, Michael and Grant Ujifusa (1985) The Almanac Washington DC: National Journal.


American Politics.

Barry, Brian (1985) 'Does Democracy Cause Inflation? Political Ideas of some Economists', pp. 280-31? in L.N. Lindbert and C.S. Maier (cos) The Politics of Inflation and .Economic Stagnation, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

Bass, .lack and Walter DeVries (1976) The Transformation of Soothe;rn Politics, New York: Basic Books. Beer, Samuel H. (1978) 'In Search of a New Public Philosophy/',pp. 5-44 in A. King (ed.), The New American Political System. Washington DC: American Enterprise Institute. Bell, Daniel (1961) The End of faleoiogy. New York: Collier Books. Cannon, Lou (1932) Reagan. New York: G.P. Put rams


Cohodas, Nadine (1985) 'Conservatives Pressing to Reshape Judiciary', Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, 43(36): l'759-63.

190 The Transformation

of Contemporary


Congressional Quarterly Wee.-'cly Report (1982)40(2)2 January, (1983)41(2) 15 January, (1986) 44(2) 1 ] January. Cook, Rhodes (1985) 'Reagan Nurtures his Adopted Party to Strength', Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, 43(39): 1927-30. Davis, James A. (1980) 'Conservative Weather in a Liberalizing Climate', Soc£al Forces,

58(4): 1129-56. Duncan, Philip (1982) 'House Vote: Major Mid-term Setback for the Republicans',

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Gallup, George H, (1972) The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 1935-71(3 vols). New York:

Random House. Gilder, George (1982) Wealth and Poverty. London: Buchan and Enright. Ginsberg, Benjamin and Martin Shefter (1985) ' A Critical Realignment?', pp. 1-25 in

M. Nelson (ed.), The Elections

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Horowitz, Irving Louis (1977) Ideology and Utopia in Ike Unitea'.S'tale_v 1956-76. London: Oxford University Press. Huntington, Samuel P. (1981) American Politics: The Promise ofDi5/tarmony. Cambridge,

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Ladd, Everett

Ladd, Everett C. (l985b) 'On Mandates, Realignmertts, and the 1984 Presidential Electiou', Political Science Quarterly, 100(1): 1-25 . Ladd, Everett C. and Seymour M. Lipset (1980) 'Anatomy of a Decade', Public Opinion, 3(1): 2-9.

Lamis, Alexander P. (1984) The Two~Parry South. New York: Oxford University Press. Larson, Arthur (1956) A Republican Looks at his Pony. New York: Harper and Row.

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Madsen, Henrik J. (1981) °Partisanship and Macroeconomic Outcomes: a Reconsideration', pp. 269-82 in D_A. Hobbs and H. Fassbender (eds), Con rernporory Political Economy. Amsterdam: North-Holland.

Maier, Charles S. (1976) Recruiting Bourgeois Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Markus, Gregory B. (1982) 'Political Attitudes During an Election Year: a Report on the 1980 NES Panel Study', American Poiiricai Science Review, 76(3): 538-60. Nelson, Michael (ed.) (1985) The Elections of I984. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.

Nie, Norman H., Sydney Verlia and John R. Petrocik (1979) The Changing American Voter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Nisbet, Robert (1986) Conserwnism.'Dream andRea!ily. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Page, Benjamin I. and Robert Y. Shapiro (1982) 'Changes in Americans' Policy Preferences, 1935-79', Public Opinion Quarterly, 46(1): 24-42. Peele, Gillian (1984) Revival and Reaction. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Peterson, Paul E. (1985) 'The New Politics of Deficits', pp. 365-418 in J.E. Chubb and P.E. Peterson (eds), The New Direction in American Politics. Washington DC: Brookings Institution.

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192 The Transformation of Contemporary


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10 The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties David Broughton

The shift in emphasis in the analysis of Western European party systems in the 1970s away from relationships between sociostructural variables and voting appeared justified on the basis of the accumulated knowledge of the links involved. The moves towards using partisan ties as a major element in explanations of electoral behaviour proved to be valuable in an age of increased social mobility and greater educational opportunity. At the same time, rapid economic changes were taking place in the composition of the workforce throughout the continent.' In particular, attention was paid to how long-term ties to specific parties were developed and maintained (Budge, Crewe and Farlie, 1976) in the wake of the seminal work on the topic performed by the 'Michigan school' in the 1960s (Campbell, Converse, Miller and Stokes, 1960, 1966). One means of testing the 'ideological content' of party identification lay in the use of a left-right continuum or scale (liberal-conservative in

the United States) on which the voters were asked to place both themselves and the parties to see if the voters would place themselves

closest to the party they usually voted for. A close relationship between party identification and placements on a left-right scale demonstrated the value of the latter as a surrogate measure for the former in multiparty systems but the problem of deciding upon the explanatory capacity of such scales with regard to voting was more difficult to resolve.

The meaning of the scale was bound to differ between respondents and countries even where it could be shown that the ideas of left and right were accurate simplifying devices in a complex political world. There was also the additional problem that individual respondents might place themselves at given positions on the scale simply because

they had already stated that they identified with a party they perceived to be left, right or centrist. Measurement difficulties also existed how long should the scale be and should a centre location be offered? This latter question was


194 The TronsformoOon of Contemporary Conservofism based on a tendency for people with little interest or knowledge to

eschew the poles of the scale in favour of the centre, covering up in the process their ignorance of the meaning of the terms.2 Debates were also started on whether the left-right scale could be treated as a 'true' interval level measure and whether similar distances along the scale could be regarded as similar in terms of political content and impact. However, the major difficulty in using such a scale lay in the assumption of un-dimensionality, that every partisan conflict could be understood in terms of or reduced to a single scale on which salient issues and party positions could easily be located. The classic work by Downs (1957) defined the scale in terms of governmental intervention in the economy, but the degree of 'ideological content' used by voters was deemed to be very low by Converse (1964), adding weight to the need to use more than one summary dimension in order to paint the whole picture of partisan conflict (Stokes, 1966). The more recent research by Klingemann (1979) confirmed that little had changed since Converse's original work in the 1950s although there did appear to be a

greater use of ideological concepts in Britain and the United States. Additionally, the use of a single left-right continuum was clearly inappropriate in countries such as Belgium and Ireland where questions of national identity remained important cultural cues or in non-European countries where the forces of nationalism were entrenched. Issues such as abortion, immigration and sex equality were also very difficult to assimilate into one dimension. The mapping of multi-dimensional partisan spaces has been very important in recent research in a number of related fields, most notably coalition formation and maintenance (Pridham, 1986), manifesto commitments (Budge, Robertson and Hearl, 1987), changing electoral relationships between different parties (Van der Eijk and Niemoeller, 1983) and the perceptions of activists (Van Scliuur, $987)." We will clearly not be able to deal with such a vast range of topics in this chapter but it is important that we consider the independent value and impact of a left-right scale and its relationship to the sociostructural variables with which we are mainly concerned. Two possible approaches are to consider the degree to which social status indicators underlie the left-right scale and the extent to which different religious variables are correlated with positions on the scale. We would expect the latter in particular to be important in continental Europe given the close ties between Christian Democracy and the Catholic Church. This link has also been significant with regard to the social base in the electorate of many Christian Democratic parties. We will also examine the utility of these indicators for discriminating between conservative

party supporters and others in the respective party systems of each country.

The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties


This chapter consists of analyses of survey data (the Eurobarometer series sponsored by the EC Commission) collected in nine EC countries in 1977 and 1983. We intend to use the data to reassess the value of sociostructural variables for the analysis of conservative partisan choice in those countries in the light of the analytical developments outlined earlier in the chapter. The first question to be answered is how do we distinguish a conservative party from the rest? The Choice of Parties We will not make any distinction between conservative and Christian

Democratic parties since both types can reasonably be placed on the 'moderate right' of the political spectrum throughout Europe The difference in party labels is essentially rooted in the historical perception of conservatives as reactionaries or nationalists or both in

continental Europe? The differences today, however, between conser~ vatives and Christian Democrats are much more ones of emphasis than priorities, based on the need to maintain electoral bases and a broad party image against the constant challenge of other parties. Most conservative and Christian Democratic parties comfortably coexist and co-operate with one another in transnational organizations and in the European Parliament. It was also not difficult to identify the main conservative party in

each country, with the exception of France and Ireland. Even the moderate right in France is fragmented and factionalized, with a variety of republican and radical groups constantly jostling for

position. Since they were the biggest of these groups, we chose the RPR (Reassemblement pour la République) as the main and most enduring representatives of conservatism in France.

In Ireland, the problem was different. lt is never easy to place either of the principal parties on even a n approximate left - right scale, given the lack of consistently distinct socioeconomic policy differences

between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.6 In the end, we decided to include both parties in the analysis since this would allow us to compare and contrast within Ireland as well as between either fits major governing parties and their counterparts in other European countries. The Data Bases

We used Eurobarometer data for the analysis, initially hoping to be able to compare across time as well as countries using the same variable categories. The length of the Eurobarometer time-series data

(thirteen years in Britain and two surveys per year) now permits comparison across time although the main themes in each survey are


The Transformation

of Contemporary Coaservazism

different and some social background questions are not asked on each occasion. Even though we could not expect much change in the distribution between the categories of the independent variables, we still wanted to use two time-points spanning six years in order to be able to reach concl usions concerning the usefulness of such indicators in electoral analysis. We chose 1977 and 1983 as our two time-points. The former year had two surveys with the same categories for the variables we wanted to use, thus enabling us to always analyse a larger number of cases, whilst the latter year used different religious variables. We could therefore assess the utility of different indicators of religion and its influence in terms of partisan support for conservative parties." Rates of church attendance were employed as an objective measure of church attachment in 1977. In 1983, this question was dropped, being replaced by three subjective questions asking after the respondent's self-perception of his or her 'religiousness', the importance of God in their lives and whether they felt that religious influence affected their political preference. Given the considerable

number of social variables which are

included in every Eurobarometer survey, the first task in the analysis was to establish which variables displayed the greatest association with voting across the nine countries. The Choice of' Sociostructural Variables

We were keen not to impose any preconditions for selecting the main variables of interest and so we included most of the background variables at this initial stage. Fourteen variables were cross-tabulated against voting for each country in 1977 and eleven in 1983, with all the

major social influences such as sex, education, income, occupation, region, age, various religious variables and respondent self-placement on a left-right scale being employed. We looked at the respective Cramer's V statistics of association and

the statistical significance of each table's Chi-square distribution before deciding which variables were the most important for the subsequent detailed analysis. We took the 'top six' variables within each country on the basis of the above statistics and then chose the six indicators which were consistently the most important across the nine countries. There was a high degree of uniformity, with the respondent's selfplacement on a left-right scale finishing in the top six in each of the nine countries (in six countries, it was the variable with the largest association with voting).

The three religious variables in 1977 (denomination, rates of church attendance and perceptions of the importance of religion to the

The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties


respondent) were also clearly associated with partisan choice. All of

them were in the 'top six' in seven of the nine countries, with all three registering similar Cranmer's V associations with voting. The last two variables we chose were occupation of the head of the household and type of community of residence, although neither appeared to be as important as any of the religious variables or the left-right scale. Nevertheless, they were both in the top six variables most associated with voting in four of the nine countries, with 'type of community' noticeably important in Denmark and Belgium.

Sociostructural Variables and Conservative Partisan Preference in Nine EC Countries, 1977

Although conservative parties have always received greater support from particular social groups than others, they have usually tried to win and retain backing from broad segments of their electorates by portraying themselves as representing majority opinion and overall national interests. Whilst this kind of appeal has not found a sustained resonance amongst the unionized and more radical groups in the populace, it has regularly struck a chord with those favouring only modest, gradual reforms or the retention of the status quo. As a result, we might well expect that the distribution

of conservative party

support broken down by social group would only provide a poor means of differentiation, even given the probability of noticeably greater support from groups such as farmers, the self-employed and Catholics with close ties to the church. One simple way of testing this is to employ straightforward bivariate cross-tabulations of the appropriate variables by partisan choice. The links between the six most associated variables and conservative political preference i n nine countries in 1977 are set out in Tables

10.1-10.6. The percentages in the cells are the averaged support from each category for each party drawn from the two Eurobarotneter surveys of 1977. The number of cases in parentheses is the total number of respondents supporting each party drawn from both surveys. The

Cramer's V and Chi-square significance statistics are also given for comparative purposes.

lt should be remembered that the cell entries are the percentages of each social category supporting the conservative party in each country and not the percentage of conservative party support being supplied by each group. Consequently, the fact that the Danish Conservative Party (KF) received no Catholic support whatsoever (Table l0.l) is hardly significant in an almost entirely Protestant country. Similarly, the RPR

won 19.8 per cent of Catholic votes in 1977 in France but that merely indicates that denomination is not important in an overwhelmingly


The Tronsjbrmalion

of Contemporary


Catholic country. Both the republicans and socialists were able to win a substantial degree of Catholic backing (22.6 per cent and 33.5 per cent in 1977 respectively). Religious Variables and Conservative Partisan Preference, 1977 We dealt with the three religious variables first: religious denorni~ nation, the perceived importance of religion and rates of church attendance (Tables 10.1- l0. 3). It seems clear that in denominationally divided countries, the conservative parties are able to win support from both Catholics and Protestants- This is apparent in Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands, with support for

the British Conservative Party being almost totally unaffected in size on the basis of any kind of denominational tie or having no ties at all. The CDU-CSU and CDA received noticeably less support from people belonging to other denominations or none than from Catholics or Protestants. Since we cannot, by definition, expect a denominational divide in Catholic countries (France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and Ireland),

we had to employ other religious measures which could be expected to separate out different groups on the basis of religiosity. The subjective Table 10.1 Religious denomination by conservative poh'tica¢' preference,

1977 (percentages) France



Germany CDU/

Italy DC






Belgium CVP/ PSC

Lu . PSC











57.4 24.9


















(353) 20.2 64.2









































Cramer's V .256 Significance .000













.217 .018




(9) (29) 20.9 8.4 (2) (I)


30.4 12.7 (7) (3) .146


The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parries


perception of the importance of religion to the respondent and rates of church attendance should provide us with a more detailed picture of religion and conservative party voting in Catholic countries. It is clear from Table 10.2 that the subjective perception of the importance of religion does allow us to distinguish between Catholics in Italy and Luxembourg, less so in France, Belgium and Ireland. If we take the difference between those choosing religion as being of great importance and subtracting those who stated the opposite (religion

regarded as being of little importance), the differences in conservative party support are quickly apparent. Table 10.2

The importance

of religion

and conservative political

preference, 1977 (percentages) France RPR


Germany CDU/ CSU



Neth. CDA

Denmark KF

Belgium CVP/ PSC

Lux. PSC











57.5 27.3









(637) (304)









5 I .5 23.2





(2 14)












(156) (69) 48.9









14.8 (29)

Cramer's V .218 Significance .000

.059 .603







.259 .000

.311 .000

.355 .000

.112 .006

Great importance

Some importance




In France, the difference between the two groups is II .5 per cent, in Italy 47.6 per cent, Belgium 21.3 per cent, Luxembourg 56.8 per cent and in Ireland, it is either 8.6 per cent or 12.5 per cent (Fianna Fail or Fine Gael). In Britain, perceptions of the importance of religion do not impair Conservative Party support whilst in Denmark, a similar

picture emerges. Both the CDU-CSU and the CDA are capable of winning a very substantial degree of support from those who place great importance on religion but they are still able to win some backing from those who do not. When we turn to rates of church attendance (Table 10-3), we can get a clearer picture once more by subtracting the most religiously attached people (those attending church several times a week) from

those who never go to church in terms of conservativeparty support. This particular variable has a differential impact in four countries : the


The Transformation

Table 10.3

of Contemporary


Rates of church attendance by conservative political

preference, /977 (percentages)

France RPR


Germany CDU/



Neth. CDA




Several times

Belgium CVP/ PSC

Lux. PSC











57.8 30.8









(167) (88)













































(28) 74.0 5.9









Cramer's V





.200 _.000

.259 .000

.323 .000

.314 .000




.366 .000

a week

Once a week



A few times a year or less




Federal Republic of Germany (a difference of53.1 per cent), Italy (62.6 per cent), the Netherlands (58.6 per cent) and Luxembourg (72.3 per cent), noticeably less in the rest, especially Britain and France. Occupation of the Head of the Household and Type of

Community and Conservative Partisan Preference, 1977 Having considered the relationship between the three religious

variables and voting, we now want to look at the other three variables : the occupation of the head of the household, type of community and respondent self-placement on a left-right scale. It is often difficult to succinctly present data on the relationship between occupation and voting since the former is usually made up of a number of discrete categories which are bound to display at least

differences of degree across countries. Even with the six categories set out in Table 10.4, it is not particularly easy to summarize the main findings. However, on the basis of previous research,9 we would expect most conservative parties to win substantial support from farmers and fishermen, owners/proprietors and directors whilst their weakest 'support group is likely to be manual workers. The intermediate' groups of professionals and white-collar employees tend to be more

(18) (2) .086


The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties


fickle and volatile, perhaps attracted to liberal or socialist parties on particular occasions. These assumptions are largely borne out by the results contained in Table 10.4, although we need to enter a number of caveats concerning specific countries. The appeal of the Danish KF is noticeably less concentrated in the farmers and fishermen group than the other parties, probably as a result of the backing garnered by specifically agrarian parties such as Venstre. The K F also has the smallest attraction for manual workers of any of the parties included here. Their main support comes from the group of directors, with most of the other parties winning between one-quarter and one-third of the support of that group. The roost noticeable exception to this concerns the French RPR whose support is not dramatically different as we move down the categories of the occupation variable. A similar conclusion applies to the Belgian Social Christian parties and Fianna Fail.

Table 10.4 Occupation of zhe head of the household by conserwxtfve political preference, 1977 (percentages) France UK Germany Italy Neth. Denmark Belgium Lux.

Farmers/ fishermen

Owners/ proprietors





Ireland FF FG














54.6 39.4









(202) (150)







24, l










57.5 26.4 (68) (30)



















35.3 (23)

(19) Professionals











White-collar employees


























(68) (36)



















.173 .000

.181 .000

.212 .001











.195 .000

(43) (24) 52.4 27.8




Cramer's V Significance


The Transformation

of Contemporary


The strength of the British Conservative Party clearly lies within the white-collar and non-manual groups whilst the CDU-CSU, the DC and the CDA are all less successful than their British counterparts amongst the groups of professionals, owners/proprietors and whitecollar employees. When we turn to the type of community variable, in most of the nine countries, the appeal of conservative parties is not widely divergent whether we consider the political preferences of those living in rural areas or villages, small or medium-sized towns or big towns and cities . Although most of the parties fare worse in the urban areas than in smaller communities, the differences involved are not substantial. Indeed they are hardly noticeable at all for the RPR, the British Conservatives, the Danish KF and Fianna Fail. The fact that the highest Cramer's V statistic applies to Denmark is probably an indication of differential support according to type of community for

the other parties in the system rather than the KF. For Belgium, this conclusion would apply most probably to the socialist parties. Table 10.5 Type of community by conservative political preference, 1977 (percept rages) France UK Germany Italy Neth. Denmark KF D C CDA RPR CON CDU/ CSU

Belgium CVP/ PSC






















30.5 (442)



















23.9 (137)

Big town


















.074 .315




2296 .000

.289 .000



. 19'1' .000

53.3 18.6 (250) (87) ,139



Rural areal



Small/ medium-sized


Cramer's V Significance


The Left-Right Scale and Conservative Partisan Preference, 1977 For the last variable in this section (the left-right scale), we collapsed the original ten categories into five, ranging from left to right, with

code three denoting the mid-point of the scale. This was the variable which consistently displayed the strongest association with voting on

The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties


Table 10.6 Respondent self-piacemem on a left-night poffrffcal scale by conservative poiirical preference, 1977 (percentages) France RPR Left



Germany CDU/ CSU

Italy DC

Neth. CDA



Belgium CVP/ PSC

Lux. PSC

Ireland FF FG




34.9 10.4





Denmark KF

























17.6 (54)


42. 1



34. 1













25.1 (314) (142)



























(I 18) 54.6









26.9 (156)

.400- .360 .000 .000

.402 .000

.496 .000

.283 .000

.382 .000

.248 .000



(5) 2







Cramer's V Significance




the basis of the Cramer's V statistic and Table 10.6 indicates why this occurred. Of those who placed themselves on the far left (code 1), very few in any country chose the respective conservative party as their political preference. The fact that 15.9 per cent chose the CDU-CSU in the

Federal Republic of Germany reflects an ideological ambivalence within the Christian Democrats which is often apparent and which is characterized by a pragmatic approach to policy implementation in office. Once again, the use of a left-right scale in Ireland appears to have less discriminatory capacity than elsewhere. Fully 34.9 per cent of

those respondents who placed themselves on the far left of the scale chose Fianna F811 as their political preference. As expected, the number of peo supporting the E spective conservative parties increases as we move from far left to far right, with a monotonic increase in party support apparent in Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Luxembourg. In France, the RPR's greatest support comes from the moderate

rather than the far right whilst the DC in Italy is clearly supported by the vast majority (80.5 per cent) of people who regard themselves as

(61) .215 .000


The Tronsformazion of Contemporary Conservatism

'centrists'. This figure is far above that of any other party considered in this paper, an indication of the Christian Democrats being regarded as a 'centre' party whose performance in office is a more important factor

in determining feelings towards it than its ideological stance on salient issues. It should also be noted that the largest Cramer's V statistic was produced in the Italian case, suggesting that respondent self-placement on a left-right scale is very significant for party preference within the Italian party system as a whole. It is also interesting to note that the British Conservatives and the German CDU-CSU receive the greatest support of all the parties from those people who place themselves on the far right of the ideological scale. In the case of Germany, the Christian Democrats have evolved into a governing party clearly aiming to preserve the status quo in general whilst sanctioning gradual reforms as necessary. They were also successful in the 1950s in incorporating much of the extreme right support previously given to small parties in the early years of the Federal Republic without being drawn into a sustained drift to the right of the ideological spectrum. The British Conservatives use similar tactics to draw on the same groups in the electorate, having established and maintained themselves as the only credible national alternative on the right of the party system. Having set out the voting associations between the roost important

sociostructural variables in the nine countries, we now want to employ a more powerful multivariate analytical technique which will allow us to test the ability of some of these indicators to differentiate between conservative party supporters and those of other parties in each national system in turn. Discriminating Between Conservatiye and Other Parties in Nine EC Countries, 1977

Discriminant analysis is a technique which attempts to differentiate between two or more separate groups (in this case party supporters) on the basis of presumed differences on a number of independent variables measured at interval level." We can analyse the most important variables for achieving the greatest degree of separation between different party supporters and we can also see how successful we are in correctly classifying known party supporters." Since the independent variables had to be measured at interval level, we were forced to omit such variables as occupation, type of community and region but we were still left with eight variables using the first of the 1977 surveys. The results of this analysis are set out in Table 10.7. The table contains the standardized canonical coeffi cents between

the first function and the main parties in each country. We excluded

The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties Table 10.7


Diseriminant and classyieation analyses of major party voters in

nine EC Countries, Eurobaromerer 7, /977 Discriminant Analysis


canonical coefficients Left-nlght scale Church attendance Importance of religion Political party: involvement Age recoded Number of inhabitants Income Sex Education


























.222 .014


.036 .181



















.003 .207 .162

.170 .284 .072 .132



.159 .293



.076 .046 .172











48.3 50.6 SOC

65.0 65.2 LAB












57.0 SD



66.9 PvdA









.132 .033 .214






97.9 70.9 85. l Classification Analysis







39.6 56,4 49.8


Canonical correlation .773 Variance explaine d (%) 91.2


Conservative supporters

correct (%) Main parties Other main competitor

minor parties in order to retain a simple though not simplistic view of

the relationships involved, with the parties we included being listed in the appendix. The table also includes the correct classification rate for assigning conservative party voters and this figure is contrasted with that for all the included parties and for the main competitor to the

conservatives, usually a labour or socialist party. If the relationships we uncovered using bivariate cross-tabulations

displayed a considerable degree of uniformity across the nine countries , the discriminant analyses leave no doubt as to the most important of the chosen variables. Clearly, the left-right self-placement scale is the most highly correlated indicator in each party system, although it appears to be relatively less significant in the Netherlands and Ireland on the basis of the canonical coefficients derived from the first

function. In Britain, for example, no other variable provides any 'competition'


The Transformation

of Contemporary


for the left-right scale, with the next most correlated variable being

education (in years). This is probably a "surrogate" measure of socioeconomic status, taking the place of the occupational variable which could not be easily adapted for use. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, rates of church attendance are also noticeably correlated with the first function, whilst perceptions of the importance of religion are more important in Belgium. For France and Italy, the left-right scale is so dominant that none of the other variables appears significant, especially in Italy where the first function explained almost all the variance (97.9 per cent). In Denmark, age and income were mildly correlated with the first function whilst for Ireland, the leftright scale appeared to be less than overwhelming.

When we turn to the classification analyses set out at the bottom of Table 10.7, the 'worst' performance in correctly assigning conservative party voters occurred in Belgium, followed by Fianna Fail in Ireland and the RPR in France. A correct rate of 34.1 per cent for the Belgian Social Christian parties does seem very low, a reflection of the fluidity of the overall party system in early 1977 with the growing strength of

the regionalist parties. This assumption was reinforced by the fact that the classification procedure only managed to correctly assign 44.0 per

cent of all party voters, although it was more successful in identifying supporters of the Socialist parties (a 74.1 per cent success rate).12 The most successful classification for a conservative party concerned the Italian DC, followed by the Danish K F and the PSC in Luxembourg. As a consequence, the best overall classification rate was also achieved in Italy (78.9 per cent), followed by Luxembourg (72.9 per cent) and the Netherlands (66.1 per cent). In these three countries, it appears that the left~right scale and rates of church attendance are particularly significant for separating the different party supporters from one another, Of some interest was the success of the classification procedure in correctly identifying the supporters of the main competitor to the conservative party in each country. With the exception of Italy (the

Communist Party), this was a socialist, labour or social democratic party in each case. 1 Erance, Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands, there was little difference between the

correct classification rate for the conservative party and their main competitor whilst in Italy and Denmark, the classification rate was noticeably better for the conservative party. Given the dominance of the left-right scale in most of the countries , we decided to omit the scale and perform the discriminant analyses

again. This would provide a contrast to the above analyses as well as allow us to identify the relative weights of the other variables in the

The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties


absence of an indicator which 'swamped' their individual and potentially interesting effects. It would also permit us to compare the success of the classification procedure in terms of conservative parties, their main opponents and all the parties taken together. In addition, we will be able to consider the conclusions of Inglehart and Klingemann (1976) regarding the impact of the left-right scale and its relationship to other indicators of class and religiosity. The results of this second set of discriminant analyses are contained in Table 10.8. The importance of the church attendance variable is clear from the canonical coefficients in the table. In the absence of the left-right scale, it is the most significant of the indicators in the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. It is, however, of lesser importance in France and less important than other variables in Denmark and Belgium. In Ireland, it is hardly correlated at all and in Britain, it is not even included in the analysis. Only in Denmark are all the variables included on the basis of the Table 10.8

Dfscrirninant and classyicafion analyses

of rnajor party voters in

nine EC countries (left-righz scale omitted) Eurobaromerer 7, 1977 Discriminant Analysis Standardized canonical





















.358 .552


Church attendance


Importance of religion


. 176



.317 .535

.257 .337

.098 .192

-327 .383


Political party: involvement Age recoded Number of inhabitants


.150 .208


.076 .013 .237 .074














Income Sex



Education Canonical









.496 .294

.569 .003


.147 .191








61.3 88.7 78.8 Classification Analysis







Variance explained (%)





Conservative supporters





correct (%)

Main parties


44. l




44. 1




Other main








LA _g3


40.7 SD



63.3 COM






The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

discriminant criteria we stipulated, with two of the social status variables bearing the heaviest loadings (income and age). The 'class' variables also appear more significant in other countries as well in the absence of the left-right scale. We mentioned earlier with regard to Britain that the education variable was probably a 'surrogate' measure for socioeconomic status and the importance of that particular variable is strengthened considerably when we leave out the left-right scale (a coefficient of0.9-42, easily the highest loading of all in Britain). In Italy and the Netherlands, it is the 'importance of religion' variable which follows church attendance in terms of significance. In the Federal Republic of Germany, no other variable is capable of challenging the importance of rates of church attendance and the same conclusion applies to Luxembourg. In Ireland, education is important as is the number of inhabitants

variable (the only country where this is of particular significance) but it is also interesting to note that the level of involvement in a political party has its third largest loading in Ireland. This variable was also significant in Ireland when the left-right scale was included and such an indicator provides an indication of the importance of'party factors' as

significant influences on our ability to separate different party supporters. In all the other countries except Ireland, the party involvement variable was of no significance at all when the left-right

scale was included. It can be argued that the party involvement indicator is not a 'true'

interval level measurement as it is made up of four categories as follows: 'very involved', 'fairly involved', 'sympathizer only', 'no affinity'. However, we can at least get some idea of its importance relative to the other variables when the left-right scale is excluded. The

canonical correlation between the first function and the included parties is weaker in all nine countries when we omit rather than include the left~right scale. However, the difference between the two figures is noticeably less in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Ireland. This indicates the importance of religious variables in particular in the first three and suggests the significance of party and non-religious social background influences in Ireland. When we consider the ability of the variables to explain the variance of the first discriminant function, a number of interesting contrasts emerge with Table 10.7 when the left-right scale was included. Noticeably less of the variance is explained in France, Britain and Denmark whilst there is less than 10 per cent difference in Italy and Belgium. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the difference is only 3.6 per cent. In the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland, the results appear to show that we are able to explain more variance than when the left-right scale was included. However, we are still only including the

The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties


first discriminant function in the analyses and thus we must be careful

to avoid ascribing much signifi canoe to an artifact of analytical choice. In each of the three countries, even with the left-right scale excluded, a second function was capable of explaining between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of the remaining variance. Nevertheless, we would still expect that our ability to correctly classify conservative party supporters in the latter three countries would not be greatly diminished by excluding the left-right scale. The figure in the Netherlands represents an increase of 1.7 per cent, with a decline in Luxembourg of 4.3 per cent. In Ireland, 4.6 per cent less Fianna Fail supporters were correctly assigned whilst an increase of 5.5 per cent was achieved regarding Fine Gael sympathizers. In the

other countries, however, there are substantial discrepancies between the two rates of classification, most notably in Britain (-34.4 per cent) and Italy (-23.3 per cent), less so in France (-17.9 per cent) and Denmark (-13.2 per cent). Given the status of conservative parties as major competitors for votes in each of the nine countries, it was inevitable that the rate of successful classifications for all the main parties taken together would also decline in some. Once . again, Britain and Italy lead the way, followed by France, Denmark and Germany and then to a lesser extent by Belgium and Luxembourg. The rate of classification success

suffered very little in Ireland (-1 .0 per cent) whilst in the Netherlands, there was even less difference between the two figures (-0.7 per cent). When considering changes in the classification of supporters of the main opponents to the conservatives, an intriguing pattern is apparent. The steepest decline occurred with the Belgian socialist parties (-31.2 per cent), whilst a lesser but still noticeable decrease was apparent for many of the rest (the French socialists, the German SPD, the Italian

Communists, the Danish Social Democrats and the Luxembourg socialists). The discrepancy was less regarding the Dutch PvdA (-6.9 per cent) but the smallest decrease of all concerned the Irish Labour party (-1-2 per cent).

lnglehart and Klingemann (1976) found that, in general, social class indicators did not underlie any left-right continuum and that the variables they used (income, education and trade union membership) were only weakly correlated with the scale. They did find, however, that church attendance was an important correlate of the left-right scale in continental Europe. Our findings largely confirm those of Inglehart and Klingemann although our concentration upon social background variables means that we are not considering any explicitly ideological or attitudinal indicators with which we could try and test

their belief that the l e f t - right scale is made up of two main components

- one based on issues, the other on party loyalty and affective ties. We


The Transformation

of Contemporary


have, however, already suggested that 'party factors' may be influential since, when we removed the left-riht scale from the analysis, the variable tapping political party involvement loaded significantly in some countries. When the left-right scale was included, the involvement indicator was generally insignificant. We now want to move on to part two of the analysis when we examine the most important variables in data drawn from the two Eurobarometer surveys of 1983 (numbers 19 and 20). Whilst we will not be able to compare the results of the 1977 analysis in detail since the variables are not the same, we will at least be able to reassess our initial conclusions as to the role of the left-right scale in the party system of each country and its relationship with the other variables of significance.

Sociostructural Variables and Conservative Partisan Preference in Nine EC Countries, 1983 Although we could not achieve direct comparability with 1977 at our

second time-point due to the enforced use of different variables, we decided to proceed in the same manner as far as possible. On the basis of the Cramer's V and the Chi-square significance statistics, onc e again , the left-right scale (coded the same as in 1977) emerged as the most important variable of all. It was usually the variable most closely associated with voting. This was not, however, the case in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Although the three religious variables were different from those used in the 1977 surveys, each of them was sufficiently associated with voting in enough countries to be included. The religious self-description of the respondents was the most associated of the three, followed by perceptions of the importance of God in the respondent's life and perceptions of the impact of

religion on the respondent's political preference. Choosing other variables proved more problematic. None of the rest

finished in the 'top six' in more than four countries and they were different from the ones selected in 1977. In 1983, region of residence and age emerged as being closely linked with partisan preference. The occupation of the head of the household only finished amongst the top six most associated variables in two countries, type of community in three and education in one country. Given this inconsistent pattern, we decided to only cross-tabulate the left-right scale and the three religious variables by political preference in 1983. This allowed us to check upon the distributions along the ideological scale by conservative party support for a second

time, whilst simultaneously testing different religious variables in terms of their association with partisan choice.

The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties 21 I

The cross-tabulated relationships between these four variables and conservative political preference in nine countries in 1983 are set out in

Tables 10.9 to 10.12. For the questions dealing with the religious self-perception of the respondent and his or her position on a left-right scale, the cell percent tages are the averaged support from each category drawn from the two Eurobarometer polls of 1983. For the other two religious variables, the data is taken only from the first poll of 1983 since the questions were not asked in the second survey of that year. Religious Variables and Conservative Partisan Preference, 1983

As expected, conservative parties do not receive much support from people willing to describe themselves as convinced atheists, with the exception of the British Conservatives, but this could be a reflection of the utility of the question rather than a substantive finding. The presumption of some kind of religious tie (even a latent or indifferent one) is still strong in many European countries, with few people feeling convinced enough to state their atheism publicly. It is interesting to

note that the British Conservatives, the CDU~CSU, the Danish KF and both Irish parties attract substantial support from people describing themselves as not being religious. In contrast, the DC, the CDA and the CVP-PSC receive noticeably smaller backing from this group. The question asking after the importance otlGod to the respondents is generally formulated and therefore we could not base any detailed Table 10.9 Religious self-descrllp!ion of the respondent by conservative polincaf preference, /983 (percentages) Belgium France UK Germany Italy Neth. Denmark CVP/ KF D C CDA RPR CON CDU/

Lux. PSC

Ireland FF FG












religious person

58.1 30.8
















(567) (300) 37.7 32.8 (109)

Not a





religious person














convinced atheist

14.3 14.3









(2) (2)

.224 .000



















Cramer's V Significance


The Transformation

of Contemporary


interpretation on it alone since we have no way of knowing the background and context against which the respondent is making his or her judgment. As with the left-right scale, this was also originally a ten-point scale which we collapsed down to five categories for ease of interpretation. However, we can use such a variable to add to the analysis and as can be seen from Table 10.10, we are able to divide the conservative parties of the nine countries into two main groups. Firstly, those parties whose support varies little as we move from perceptions of God as being not at all important to the other end where God is deemed to be very important in the respondent's life. This includes the British Conservatives, the Danish KF, Fine Gael and to a lesser extent, the French

RPR. The second group of parties is made up of those who receive monotonically greater support as we move from one end of the scale to the other (not at all important to very important). This group is

comprised of the CDU~CSU, the DC, the CDA (ignoring the slight discrepancy at the 'not at all important' end of the scale in the Netherlands) and the Belgian Social Christian parties. Table 10.10 The importance of God in the respondent's Ilfe by conservative political preference, 1983 (percentages) France UK Germany Italy Neth. Denmark Belgium Lux. DC PSC CVP/ CDA KF RPR CON CDU/ PSC CSU

God not










Ireland FF FG 8.8


at all important







(3) (5) 43.3


















(29) (23)








50.7 36. I









(86) (53) 61.2 31.1 (206)























(5) 3











very important









Cramer's V























The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties


Those respondents who regarded God as being very important in their lives are clearly strongly attracted to the above parties, with the exception of the CVP-PSC where only31.6 per cent of the group chose them. In the other three countries, at least 50 per cent of the group supported the conservative party. We should note that the largest

Cramer's V statistic for this variable concerned Luxembourg, Ireland and Italy (in that order), suggesting that the party systems in those countries are affected by perceptions of the 'right' party to choose on the basis of individual beliefs in the importance of God to everyday

life. The third religious variable we used in 1983 was a straightforward dichotomy in which the respondents were asked whether they felt that their political preference was influenced by religious considerations (Table 10.l1). It is, of course, impossible to assume that such a subjective judgment would necessarily motivate the respondents towards voting for a 'religious' party but even so, with the exception of the British Conservatives and both Irish parties, there are noticeable differences in support for European conservative parties between those who believe that religion does influence their political preference and those who do not. The difference between the two percentages is greatest in Luxembourg (45.4per cent), the Netherlands (44.0 per cent) and Italy (40.7 per cent). The Cramer's V statistics for this variable are also higher than for any of the other religious variables in 1983, particularly in the Netherlands and Belgium, suggesting that, despite its wholly impressionistic and subjective nature, this variable does

indicate differences amongst the electors of those countries about the role of religious influence and the churches in politics.

Table 10. l 1

Religious influence on the respondem"s political

preference by conservative political preference, /983 (percentages)














Belgium CVP/

Lux. PSC

Ireland FF FG










57.6 33.9







(125) .











51.8 32.8 (226)

(56) No









.284 .000

.030 .852

.251 .000

.371 .000












Cramer's V Significance


The TransformoNon

of Contemporary


Table 10.12 Respondent self-placement on a left-right political scale by eonservatWe poffrfcaf preference, /983 (percentages) France UK Germany Italy Neth. Denmark RPR CON CDU/ DC CDA KF CSU Left


Belgium CVP/

Lux. PSC


21 I 40.3 (8)
























































54. 1



























.336 .000

.344 .000

.348 .000

.392 .000

.307 .000


.286 .000

.363 .000


( I5)






32.4 27.8 (58) (47) 52.0 34.6 (265) (175) 58.9

33.1 (185) (106) 72.4 21.0 (116) (32)

Cram¢:r's V Significance


The Left-Right Scale and Conservative Partisan

Preference, 1983 We now want to return to our left-right scale and to look at the results produced by the 1983 surveys. Once again, we collapsed the original ten-point scale into five categories running from left to right. Both the Irish parties stood out again as being different from the rest. They were both able to capture a noticeable degree of support from people who placed themselves on the far left of the scale, whilst the support for the other conservative parties from this particular group was minimal. Amongst those placing themselves on the 'moderate left', Fianna Fail and Fine Gael again won most support although the British Conservatives and the Italian DC also received some backing from this group. The DC were, as in 1977 , the party which received most support from centrist voters whilst the Danish KF, the Belgian CVP-PSC and the French RPR received the least. The domination of both the moderate and the far right by the

Conservatives in Britain and the Christian Democrats in the Federal



The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties


Republic of Germany is once again clear from the table, whilst the Italian DC and the two Belgian parties appear considerably less able to win the backing of those who place themselves clearly on the right of

the political spectrum. This is probably the result of partisan competition within each country's respective party system, involving in Italy, the extreme right splinter groups such as the MSI and in Belgium, the Volksunie and the PVV in particular. The largest Cramer's V statistics for the relationship between the left-right self-placement scale and political preference involved Italy,

Denmark and Luxembourg, although the link was relatively substantial in all of the countries, with the exception of Ireland. We can now move on to use discriminant and classification analyses

on the 1983 data to see whether these social variables are able to separate the main parties in each system and the extent to which they are able to correctly classify the conservative party supporters in each , those of the main political competitor and the parties overall. Table 10.13 Discrzlmz'nanaf and cfassijicarfon analyses of major parry voters in nine EC countries, Eurobarometer I9, /983 Discriminant Analysis

Standardized canonical coefficients










scale Political
























rel inf] Life: import of God














.190 .151





Variance explained (% ) 94.3







45.9 49.2 SOC


64.4 72.6 SPD

?4.5 57.6 83.3 60.2 COM PvdA

Sex Size of community Age recoded Canonical correlation


.114 .016















93.0 ';4_5 90.7 Classification Analysis


76. I





68.1 88.4 SD

47.2 56.5 SOC

61.0 72.5 LAB

55.8 34.7 49.5

Conservative supporters


correct (%) Main parties

Other main competitor



61.3 LAB


The Transformation

of Contemporary Conservatism

Discriminating Between Conservative and other Parties in Nine EC Countries, 1983

We replicated the earlier discriminant and classification analyses as far possible. We were able to use seven variables this time and we employed the same entry criterion as in part one. Table 10.13 contains the results of these analyses.


Some variables were omitted from the final equation in each country and the overwhelming importance of the left-right scale amongst the variables was confirmed. On the basis of the canonical correlations, the significance of the ideological scale appears to be least in Belgium

using data from the first survey of 1983 (Eurobarometer 19). Of slightly more importance in Belgium is the variable asking after perceptions of religious influence on political choice. Once more, the left-right scale was less correlated with the first discriminant function in Ireland than in any of the other seven remaining countries. Of the other included variables, the perceptions of religious influence on party pref fence were mildly correlated with the first function in the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, whilst years of education achieved a similarly modest correlation in Britain and the Netherlands. With the exception of the left-right scale, none of the other variables appeared even mildly significant in France and Denmark, with the 'uniqueness' of Ireland once again being indicated by the loadings on the main function of the size of community and age variables, the only country in which these two indicators were at all important. As in 1977, it seemed likely that subsequent functions would bear investigating in some countries, particularly the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg since the variance explained by the first discriminant function in each of these three countries was relatively low in

comparison to the other six. It was also noticeable that the overall canonical correlation between the first function and the groups was smaller in 1983 in France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Luxembourg and Ireland whilst it was larger compared to 1977 in the Netherlands and Denmark. When we look at the classification analyses also contained in Table

10.13, the 'worst' performance in correctly assigning known conservative voters occurred with Fine Gael, followed by the Belgian Social Christian parties and the French RPR. None of the classification rates were particularly impressive, with notable decreases in the successful classification rate occurring in Italy (a decrease of 26.4 per cent compared to 1977), Denmark (21.7 per cent) and Luxembourg (21.9 per cent). This could be a consequence of the inclusion of different

variables, with the 1983 indicators proving to be less useful as means of identifying conservative party voters.

The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties


In the Italian case, this problem affected all the main parties in the system since the overall classification rate dropped to 57.6 per cent (from 78.9 per cent), with the Communists only being assigned 60,2 per cent of their known supporters compared to 78.4 per cent in 1977. The success of the classification procedure in correctly identifying the supporters of the main competitor to the conservative party in each country also displayed differences across the nine countries. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Luxembourg, the technique proved considerably more capable of correctly identifying the voters of the SPD, PvdA, SD and the LSAP respectively than those of the CDU-CSU, the CDA, KF and the PSC. In France, Britain, Italy and to a lesser extent, Belgium, there was little difference between the two classification rates. In Ireland, the supporters of the Labour Party were identified to a similar degree as their Fianna F8il counterparts but considerably better than Fine Gael

sympathizers (a difference of 26.6 per cent). Since the left-right scale had turned out once more to be of overwhelming importance, we replicated the analyses used on the 1977 data of performing discriminant analyses whilst omitting the scale. We were forced to use a smaller number of variables than in 1977 but were still able to pinpoint the key indicators of importance. Once more, one religious variable (political preference influenced by religion) loaded much more strongly in seven countries than when the left-right scale was included. This particular variable was excluded from the analysis in Britain and Ireland for a second time. In Britain, the most important indicator was size of community followed by education, whilst in Irela it was In and Size of community. The differences between appropriate canonical


correlations of the two sets of analyses are substantial except in the

Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Ireland, countries where religious influence has permeated political life to such a degree that it is difficult to specify where one ends and the other startsBy removing the left-right scale from the analysis, we expected a substantial drop in our ability to account for party variance and our expectations were met in France with a decrease of 27.2 per cent, 21.2 per cent in Denmark and 13.0 per cent in Britain. We were once more able to clearly distinguish between countries when we came to look at the success rate of the classification procedure involving conservative party supporters. The removal of the left-right scale induces a steep decrease in the rate of success in France and Britain, followed at a distance by Italy and Denmark. The smallest decrease occurred in Ireland (-3.8 per cent in classifying Fianna Fail sympathizers). Despite the absence of the scale, we still managed to increase the success rate slightly in the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands,


The Transformation

of Contemporary


Table 10.14 Discriminant and classy cation analyses of major party voters in nine EC countries (left-right scale omitted), Eurobarometer f9, /983

Discriminant Analysis Standardized

canonical coefficients


Political preference:















.285 .266

.077 .101



.195 .286


rel inf] Life: import of God





.580 .186

.084 .046



Sex Size of community Age recoded Canonical correlation



.132 .040

,410 .024




84.2 80.7 69.6 Classification Analysis



.300 .186

- . »








Conservative supporters correct (%)





30.1 35.1 SOC

39.8 46.0 LAB

49.0 34.4

41.1 61.9 28.7 63.8 OOM PvdA


.389 .609










47.5 46.3 SD


51.3 44.4 LAB

52.0 34.9 47.0 57.6 LAB


Main parties Other main




42.1 SOC

Luxembourg and Ireland (Fine Gael supporters). The largest increase took place in Belgium (-l-6.0 per cent). When we took all the main parties into account, however, as in 1977,

the removal of the left-right scale meant that we were less capable of correctly classifying different party supporters. The decrease in the appropriate figure was most noticeable in Britain and Denmark, followed by Italy, France, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands. The smallest decrease occurred in Belgium although we only managed to correctly classify 47.2. per cent of party supporters there even when the left-right scale was included in the analysis. There are some stark contrasts to note when we look at the rates of classifying the supporters of the main opponents to the conservatives in each country. In 1983, the removal of the left-right scale from the analysis greatly weakens our ability to correctly assign the supporters of the German

SPD, the Italian Communists, the Luxembourg Socialists and most of all, the Danish Social Democrats. If we look back at Table 10.8, it is

The Soda! Bases of Western European Conservative Parzzes 219 true that the removal of the left-right scale did reduce our ability to assign voters of those parties correctly. Yet the scale of the discrepancies involved is far greater in 1983 than in 1977. For the Danish SD, the difference between the two figures in 1977 was -16.3 per cent, in 1983, it was a massive -42.1 per cent. It is here that our analysis most clearly indicates the need for the incorporation of additional ideological and attitudinal variables in order to increase our capacity to correctly assign known party supporters. Conclusion

We realize that the analyses contained in this chapter have essentially

set the scene for more detailed investigations of the social bases of particular conservative parties using other perspectives and data. That is an inevitable consequence of attempting to summarize developments and the most significant relationships between variables in nine countries at two time~points. Important points of detail are lost amidst the desire to draw broad and generally applicable conclusions but the easy availability of the Eurobarometer surveys for secondary analysis makes them an important element in the continuing development of comparative political research in Europe. In addition, we would make no claim that this particular analysis is comprehensive even though the amount of data processing performed to produce the tables was considerable. For assessing the impact of change over time, we need directly comparable indicators and variables and they were not available. As a result, we will have to rely on inference to some degree to reach even moderately firm conclusions.

However, the results of the discriminant analyses were clear enough for us to state that respondent self-placement on a left - right scale is the most powerful discriminatory social background variable in the party systems of the nine countries, although noticeably less so in Ireland- What does this conclusion actually tell us, though, about the direct importance of such a scale for voting? What we need to know, of course, is the framework of the respondents' thinking when they describe themselves as being left or right or somewhere in between and the extent to which the terms are understood and used by ordinary voters in determining electoral choice. Do these judgments focus essentially on topics such as socioeconomic and welfare policy or on more general party and leader images? The Eurobarometer surveys we used did not attempt to probe any deeper on this specific topic" but it is certainly striking the extent to which this scale is a powerful discriminatory variable in every

country despite clear differences in party system structures . However, it can certainly be argued that Left and Right are purely


The Transformation

of Contemporary


political labels given out by political parties which act as cues towards political objects. They do not reflect ideological concepts and are not cognitive in nature since they are party-based and party-related, reflecting a partisan space which is not independent of voting and which cannot therefore determine voting (Arian and Shamir, 1983).

For some of the more highly educated and politically involved people , there may be a degree of ideological content when the terms Left and Right are employed but for the mass of voters, they merely define the boundaries of the party space within which the voting choice is made. One area of further investigation to enable us to reach more detailed conclusions would certainly be party images and the way in which specific parties are perceived, particularly in terms of who they stand for and whose interests they are seen to represent. Many voters place emphasis on the group representation basis of politics such as the links between socialist or labour parties and the working class although group and class conflict are only rarely mentioned as being of major importance. We saw the significance of the group-party link earlier when we removed the left-right scale from the discriminant analyses. When we did so, the church attendance variable appeared highly significant in several countries whilst in others, variables such as education and age increased in importance. This suggests that some parties have deep social roots in their respective societies which are unlikely to change very quickly. The need to maintain a grip on 'party loyalists' will certainly be a key element in the fashioning of party images and emphases. How parties achieve and maintain these images is a matter we cannot even begin to consider here beyond making the point that much will depend on the political complexion of the overall party system in which each conservative party finds itself. The need to win wideranging support to fend off challenges from socialist parties and the

need to protect loyalist core voters from being attracted to liberal or splinter parties are two constant concerns for most conservative parties. It may be that a precise ideological profile is something that many conservative parties can do without if they have already established themselves in the electorate's perceptions as being competent and capable of running the nation's affairs. Whilst they clearly need to be able to state their policy differences with the other parties at election time, the regular emphasis on national rather than sectional interests and moderation rather than radical reform have stood many conservative parties in good electoral stead since 1945. This is clearly evidenced by their extended grip on national government office in many European countries. | The lack of a clearly defined ideological profile is also something

which conservative parties may be able to benefit from since they are not tied to long-term definitions or age-old concerns. Whilst they will

The Social Bases of Western European Conservative Parties


clearly be in a very strong position to set the agenda of discussion when in government, they will always be able to develop a broader image should the issue agenda move away from the 'old issues' which previously structured partisan disputes. If issues become more important to more people in the future than straightforward, long-term group loyalties, it may become increasingly difficult to relate such themes to traditional definitions of Left and Right although the actual impact of such changes will depend on the extent to which each issue becomes the subject of party conflict. As Franklin (1987) argues, a different dimension not linked to the usual

left-right concerns has been of increasing significance since 1979 in Britain, with 'particularistic' voting signalling a move away from the collectivist ideas of the post-war period. A similar movement has been detected in the United States, with the development of the New Right although the impact of this 'movement' has to be carefully examined (Miller and Shanks 1982, Miller 1987). Although conservative party appeals are certain to find greater and longer lasting support amongst some social groups than others, their

proven ability to garner votes on the basis of general appeals and careful image building suggests a constant ability to change the terms of the political agenda and debate in their favour and keep it that way. This has often been achieved without engendering an electoral backlash or coherent opposition from important socioeconomic groups instinctively unwilling to be led into the conservative-defined

version of the

political future. It is this capability to adapt 'and change that has underpinned the electoral success of many! conservative parties Europe, something which clearly limits the utility of sociostructural

variables alone in analysing their social base in the electorate. Without incorporating attitudinal indicators and both party and

policy images, a roundedpicture of conservative party success in Europe will remain elusive. The propensity and ability to change is not a claim that other parties can easily make and until they can, the highly organized forces of the moderate right will probably be able to control the basis and tone of most political arguments as well as to divide and rule. Notes 1. The growth of the 'new middle class' in many countries and the decline of the

self-employed and farming sectors led to an increase in the number of voters who did not receive unambiguous partisan cues on the basis of economic self-interest. The slower decline in the size of the working class has also reduced the natural constituency of many labour and socialist parties. The theory of'dealignment` is largely underpinned by these changes in the respective sizes of socioeconomic groups, especially the growth of at socially mobile, well-educated new middle class of white collar and public sector

employees at the expense of the more 'anchored', socialized and traditionally oriented groups.


The Transformation

of Contemporary


2. Lambert (1983) believed that 'right' could be interpreted as meaning 'correct' or 'proper'. He discovered using the Canadian National Election Studies that the number of people refusing to place themselves on the left-right scale increased when no inducement' to do so was offered. The 'inducements' included placing the left-right scale in the middle of other scale questions which used more familiar terms such as 'powerful/weak' and 'good/bad'. The use of the scale mid-point decreased and the parties were more dispersed along the scale when no 'inducements' were offered. As Lambert points out, social scientists also often use the mid-point ofa scale to denote 'no information' in order to preserve sample size. 3. The volume edited by Pridham (1986) is an attempt to use an inductive, multidimensional approach to the question of coalition formation in Europe. Budge, Robertson and Heall (1987) is the main work of the ECPR Manifesto Group which sets out party movements and issue spaces on salient dimensions in nineteen countries since 1945. Van der Eijk and Niemoeller (1983) is a detailed analysis of electoral change in the Netherlands with wider applications in terms of analytical techniques and measurement indicators. Van Schuur (1987) is an article on the sympathy scores for specific interest groups amongst party activists from fifty-eight political parties in eleven EC countries. Scarborough (1984) is an ambitious attempt at developing 'core belief profiles' to test the ideological content of the relationship between electors and parties. 4. Castles and Mair (1984) questioned 'expert` political scientists on the location of their country's parliamentary parties on a left-right scale. Three of the parties we have included in our analyses were placed in the 'centre' rather than on the 'moderate right': the Italian DC, the Flemish Social Christians (CVP) and the Dutch CDA although the

latter party was regarded as being either `centrist' or 'moderate right'. 5. Most works on modern conservative party politics make this point but they then proceed to ignore it (Layton-Henry, 1982, Irving, 1979). Whilst historically it is a useful distinction to make, any analysis would be greatly reduced in scope it` it were to be retained today. Comparisons over time are, of course, impossible since Christian

Democracy is a post-war phenomenon although its roots can be clearly traced back to earlier periods. 6. This is the traditional assumption concerning Irish politics made by Whyte (1974). More recent attempts to establish the existence of left-right differences in Ireland have been made by Mair (1986) along the lines that Ireland is not the sole exception to most of the 'rules` of West European politics.

T. The original investigators for the Eurobarometer surveys were Ronald Inglehart and Jacques-Rene Rabier. Neither the original investigators nor the ESRC Data Archive at the University of Essex which supplied the data bear any responsibility for the interpretations presented here. The author would like to thank Erie Roughley of the Data Archive for help i n preparing the data for analysis.

8. It is one of the more interesting questions of electoral analyses which concentrate upon sociostructural influence as to how religion continues to influence the voting preferences of so many people in an age assumed to be secular. Methodological problems, questions of validity and reliability and a lack of available data have produced possible rather than probable explanations, with broad assumptions and assertions

rather than detailed causal analyses being the norm. 9. This conclusion is based on virtually all the previous investigations in the field. Since there is such a degree of unanimity, any of the major works can be consulted for the relevant information. See, for example, Rose and Urwin (1969) and Rose (1974). 10. See DzScrfminant Analysis by William R. Klecka. Sage University Papers on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences, Series 07-019. Beverly Hills and

The Social Hoses of Western European Conservative Parties


London: Sage Publications, 1980. Another practical source is Chapter 23 also written by Becka in the SPSS Manual by Norman H. Nie, C. Hadlai Hull, Jean G. Jenkins, Karin Steinbrenncr and Dale H. Bent. New York: McGraw-Hill, Second Edition, 1975. A recent article using the technique on Greek data is Stavroula Tsokou, Mack C. Shelley and Betty A. Dobratz, 'Some Correlates of Partisan Preference in Greece, 1980: A Discriminant Analysis', European Journal of Po1iz'icc£ Research, 14 (4) 1986: 441-63. ll.The discriminant sub-programme extracts n - 1 functions (two functions for three groups for example) but it is often the case that the t"irst function is by far the most important in terms of the variance explained and the accompanying canonical correlation (the degree of relationship between the groups and the discriminant function). For that reason, we have only dealt with the first function to be derived but we can infer that a low variance explained percentage and a low correlation mean that the first function is not capturing the full complexity of a particular party system, with a second or even third function capable of adding to the overall picture. We used a stepwise inclusion procedure by which the final equation was arrived at by testing the ability of each variable in turn to add further discrimination to the variables already included. If they could not meet the specified tolerance and F-to-enter requirements, those variables were omitted. 12. It has to be remembered that the 'success' of the classification procedure depends on the number of parties that are included. The normal criterion for assessing 'success' is to contrast the percentage correctly assigned with a random distribution between the parties, i.e. 33.3 per cent for three parties and 25 per cent for four parties. We included five parties for the Belgian analyses and thus a random classification success rate would be 20 per cent. A success rate of34.l per cent for the CVP-PSC can clearly be contrasted with '14.l per cent for the Belgian Socialist parties. 13. The does not imply that the Eurobarometer data sets are inadequate for testing specific hypotheses. They do, for instance, contain data for the construction of indices of post~materialist values but as with any broadly based survey, they are forced to cover a lot of ground quickly by omitting detailed questioning on themes of interest to many researchers.

References Arian, Asher and Michal Shamir (1983), 'The Primarily Political Functions of the

Left-Right Continuum', Comparative Politics, 15(2):139-58. Budge, Ian, Ivor Crewe and Dennis Farlie (eds) (19?6) Party Idenryicotlon ano'Beyond.Representations of Voling and Parry Comp eriifon. London: John Wiley. Budge, Ian, David Robertson and Derek Heart (eds)(198'l) Ideology, Srrotegy ondParty Change. A Spatial Analysis ofPosi-WarElecllon Programmer fn Nineteen Democracies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Campbell, Angus, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller and Donald Stokes (1960) The American Voter. New York: John Wiley. Campbell, Angus, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller and Donald Stokes (1966) Elections and :he Political Order. New York: John Wiley. Castfes, Francis G. and Peter Mair (1984) 'Left-Right Political Scales: Some "Expert" Judgements', European Journal of PoIi1ieal Research, 12(1): 73-88. Converse, Philip E. (1964) 'The Nature of BeliefSysterns in Mass Publics', pp. 206-61 in David E. Apter (ed.) Ideology and Discontent. New York. Free Press. Downs, Anthony (1957) An Economic Theory ofDemocrocy. New York: Harper and Row.

Eijk, Cornelius Van der and Broer Niemoeller (1983) Electoral Change in the Netherlands. Empirical Results and Metfrods

of Meosureme.*:z. Amsterdam: CT


224 The Transformation

of Contemporary


Franklin, Mark (1987) 'The New Right and the Particularization of British Voting Choice since 1974', paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Political Studies Association, University of Aberdeen, April 1987. Inglehart, Ronald and Hans D. Klingemann (1976) 'Party Identification, Ideological Preference and the Left-Right Dimension Among Western Mass Publics', pp. 243-73 in Ian Budge, Ivor Crewe and Dennis Farlie (eds) Party Idenznficatfon and Beyond. London: John Wiley. Irving, R.E.M. (1979) The Christian Democratic Parties of Western Europe. London: George Allen and Unwire. Klingernann, Hans D. (1979) 'The Background of Ideological Conceptualization', pp. 255-78 in Samuel H. Barnes and Max Kaase (eds), Po1fttco!Aetion: Mass Participation in Five Western Democracies. London and Beverly Hills: Sage. Lambert, Ronald D. (1983) 'Question Design, Response Set and the Measurement of Left-Right Thinking in Survey Research', Canadian Journal of Political Science, 16

(1)= 135-44. Layton-Henry, Zig (ed.) (1982) Conservative Politics in Western Europe. London: Macmillan. Mair, Peter (1986) 'Locating Irish Political Parties on a Left-Right Dimension: An Empirical Inquiry', Poltricaf Studies, 34 (3): 456-65.

Miller, Warren E. and J. Merrill Shanks (1982) 'Policy Directions and Presidential Leadership: Alternative Interpretations of the 1980 Presidential Election',,Brirfsh Journal of Polftical Science, 12 (3): 299-356. Miller, Warren E. (1987) ' A New Context for Presidential Politics: The Reagan Legacy', Polftieal Behavior, 9 (2): 91-113. Pridham, Geoffrey (ed.) (1986) Coalitional Behaviour in Theory and Practice: An Inductive Model for Western Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rose, Richard and Derek Urwin (1969) 'Social Cohesion, Political Parties and Strains in

Regimes', Comparative Political Studies, 2 (I): 7-67. Rose, Richard (ed.) (1974) Electoral Behavior: A Comparative Handbook. New York:

Free Press.


Scarborough, Elinor (1984) Political Ideology and Voting: An Exploratory Study. Oxford:

Clarendon Press. Schuur, Wijbrandt H. van (1987) 'Constraint in European Party Activists' Sympathy Scores for Interest Groups. The Left-Right Dimension as Dominant Structuring Principle', European Journal of PoliticaZ Research, 15 (3): 347-62. Stokes, Donald E. (1966) 'Spatial Models of Party Competition', pp.l6l-79 in

Campbell, Converse, Miller and Stokes, Elections and the Political Order. New York;

John Wiley. Whyte, J.I-I. (1974) 'Ireland: Politics Without Social Bases', pp.619-51 in Richard Rose (ed.) Electoral Eehavior. New York: Free Press.

Appendix Main parties (abbreviations) thduded In the discriminant analyses. France: RPR, Communists, Socialists, PR, UDF. United Kingdom: Conservatives, Labour, Liberal, Lib/SDP (1983). Germany: CDU-CSU, SPD, PDP.

Italy: DC, PCI, PSI, PSDI.


Netherlands: CDA, PvdA, VVD

Denmark: Conservatives, Social Democrats, Vcnstre.

Belgium: CVP-PSC, PLP-PVV, PS-SP, Volksunie, PDF/RW. Luxembourg; CSV, LSAP, DP. Ireland: Fianna Fail, Pine Gael, Labour.


adversarial politics, 17-18 agrarian parties, 122-3, 127-8, 201 Algerian crisis, 39-40, 52

Callaghan government, 22 Calvinism, 28, 79, 89, 91, 92 capitalism, 23-4, 60-61, 64-6, 68, 71-2 Carter, Jimmy, 177, 1?8-9, 180-81 catch-all parties, 56, 153-4, 155

Alianza Popular, 145

Catholic parties

evolution, 146-»53 image, 154, 156-60 weaknesses, 153-4 Anti-Revolutionary Party, 78-9, 87, 91-2

Austria, 98-9, 101, 102, 105 Netherlands, 78-9, 89, 92 Spain, 155-6 CDA, 7, 79-81, 85-92, 94 Central Policy Review Staff, 26

anti-tax party, 122, 126, 135 Attlee government, 15 austerity policy, 45-6, 49, 51

Centre des Démocrates Sociaux, 43, 47

Australia, 4, 6 Austria, 5-6 neoconservatism, 108-17 Ovp (1945-70), 98-102

Centre National des Indépendants, 37-8

Adam Smith Institute, 28

Adenauer, Konrad, 59



transformation, r

Centre National Indépendant et Paysan,

38,39,40,43,52 Centre Party Netherlands, 93 Norway/Sweden, 123, 127-8, 130


Austrian school, 1? I authoritarian conservatism, 10, 63, 65-6,

72, IS?-8, 179


authority relations, 51

centre~periphery cleavage, 121-2, 142 Centre for Policy Studies, 17 Chaban-Delntas, Prime Minister, 42, 43 Chicago school, 17 Chirac, Jacques, T, 42-5, 48-9, 50-52 Christian Democrats, 7-8, 9

Barons, M., 186, 187

Germany, 58-63, 68, 70-71, 73

Barre, Raymond, 45-6, 49

Netherlands, 78-81, 85-92, 94-5

Beer, Samuel H., 3, 164

Norway/Sweden, 122, 124, 127-8,

Berglund, Stem, 126, 129 Bildt, Carl, 137, 140 bill of rights proposal, 18 Blum, Léon, 37

Bohr an, Gusta, 134-5, 137-8 Borke, Judge, 188 Boulangism, 47 'bourgeois bloc`, 58 Bow Group, 17 Britai_n 247


electoral uncertainty, I3~14, 30-33 ideological change, 13, 14-30 Brittan, Samuel, 17 Busek, E., 106

Butler, D.E., 21, 31, 32 'Butskellite' consensus, 15

140-41 Spain, 147 civil rights, 164, 168, 169-74 classification analysis, 204-10, 216-20 Club de l'Horlog,e, 46 collective identity, 67-8, 72 collectivism, 1, 3-4, 6, 15, 138 communism, 93, 94, 129

France, 37, 41, 50 Spain, 156, 159 community (types), 197, 202, 210, 217 Confederation of Entrepreneurial Organizations (CEOE), 149 consensus politics, 15-16

conservatism analytical concept, 55-8

226 The Transformation

of Contemporary


changes/growth, 1-11

Germany, 62-6, 68-9, 70

cultural, 84, 90, 94, 127

Netherlands, 82-6, 88, 90-91, 94-5 Norway/Sweden, 132-4, 136, 140,

reactionary, 91-2


reformist, 86-91

social bases (European), 193-22 I see also authoritarian conservatism,



conservatism, liberal conservatism, moral conservatism, technocratic conservatism, value conservatism,

conservative ideology

Austria, 104-6, 109-14 Britain, 13, 14-30

Germany, 55-65, Tl-3 Spain, 154, 156-60 consociationalism, 79, 95

Converse, P.E., 193, 194 Coolidge, Calvin, 177

corporatism, 3, 4, 5, 6, 16, 20, 100 council housing, 22, 25 Crewe, Ivor, 31, 193 cultural conservatism, 84, 90, 94, 12? cultural issues, 46, 52-3, 73, 83

Daalder, Hans, 78, 79, 85, 90 Davis, J.A,, 1?'8-9 dealignment, electoral, 30

D e b r , Michel, 41, 44

Spain, 151, 154 US, 166-77, 179-83, 187

education policies, 2T, 28, 83, 8i" education variables, 205, 207, 210, 216, 217 . egalitarianism, 61, 72, 131

Eisenhower, D.D., 166-71, 183 electoral uncertainty, 13-14, 30-32, 33 electorate class voting, see social class

community (type), 192, 202, 210, 217 left-rigbt scale, see left-right scale by occupation, 197, 200-202, 210 religion, see religious variables

employment, 69, 167 see also full employment, unemployment

Eurobarometer, 195-6, 205, 207, 216, 219 Europe, 122, 126, 141 see also social bases (European

parties) Evangelicals, 86, 92 exchange controls, 50-51

do Gaulle, Charles, 35, 37-41, 43-4,

48-9,52,53 Democratic Centre (France), 43 Democrats Netherlands, 79-81, 84, 93 Spain, 147, 149, 156-9 us, 166, 168-71, 172-5, 179-81,


family, 66, 69, 72, 140-41 protection (Austria), 99, 102, 112,

116 Farmers' Party, 93 Fascism, 2, 39, 46, 47, 59, 67, 123 FDP, 68, 70

deregulation, 48, 49, 50-51, 65, 82 Deutsche Konservative Parted, 58

Felling, A., 80, 84, 90 Fianna Fail, 10, 195, 199, 201-3, 206, 209, 217

De Volkskranl, 90, 93

Fine Gael, 195, 199, 212, 216

discriminant analysis, 204-10, 216-20 Douglas-Home, Sir Alec, 16 Downs, Anthony, 194 Dubiel, H., 55, 64 Dutch politics, see Netherlands

foreign policy (US), 168, 169-71, l?3, 125, ITT, 129-80, 182, 183, 187 Forsthoff, E., 59, 65

Eco-conservatism, 62-3, 112-13, 128 economic conservatism, 84, 90, 94, 100, 166, 172 economic policies, 6-7

Ford, Gerald, 177

Fourth Republic, 37-9 Fps, 99, 10'7, 108, 111, 114, 116-17 Fraga Iribarne, Manuel, 146-50, 152, 158-9 France, I, 6-7 do Gaulle, 35-6, 39-41, 52, 53

Austria, 99-100, 106-12, 116-17

Giscard d'Estaing, 43-6

Britain, 15-25 France, 39, 41-3, 45-6, 48-52

Le Pen, 46-50 Liberation and Fourth Republic, 37-9


Index 227 Pompidou, 41-2, 52 Right returned, 35, 50-52 Francoism, 8, 145-7S 153, 157, 159 free market economics, 15, 17, 69 Free Reformed Church, 91-2 Freyer, H., 59, 60 Friedman, Milton, 17, 20 Front National, 35-9, 46-8, 50, 53 full employment, 5, 6, 15, 22, 42, 10?-8, 121, 164, 167 Gallup, George, 169, 172 Gaullism, 35-6, 38-44, 48-9, 52 Geertsema, WJ., 86 gender voting, 32, 126 Germany, I , 7

analysis of conservatism, 55-8 CDU-State, 58-9 neoconservatism (anatomy), 64-8 neoconservatism (politics), 68-72 political renaissance, 60-64 technocratic conservatism, 59-60 Gilmour, Sir Ian, 29 Ginsburg, Judge, 188 Girvin, B., 166, 168, 176 Giscard d'Estaing, Valéry, 38, 40-46, 50 Goldwater, Barry, 165, 171, 172, 173


government intervention

Austria, 110 deregulation, 48, 49, 50-51, 65, 82

France, 45-6, 48-51 Germany, 62, 64-5, 68, 70 Netherlands, 82 I Norway/Sweden, 127-9, 131-2, 138, 142

US, 169, 170, 176-9, 181-2 government spending, 1, 5, 21-3, 25-6, 51, 82, 85, 110-11 Grande, E., 64, 68 Great Society programme, 171, 175 Green Parties Austria, 109-10, 115, 116

Germany, 63, 64, 70 Norway/Sweden, 125, 127, 128 Greiffenhagen, M., 57, 59, 61, 62, 102 Gunther, R., 146, 149, 150

Hawke, Bob, 6 Heath, Edward, 16, f7, 19, 29 Henri Batasuna, 151

Heseltine, Michael, 29 Hibbs, D.A_, 168 Horowitz, I.L., 166 housing, 22, 25 Howe, Sir Geoffrey, 23

Hoyles program, 140

ideology, see conservative ideology Independent Republicans, 36, 40, 42, 47 individualism, 3-4, 6-11, 138 industrial capitalism, see capitalism Industrial Relations Act (1971), 20 industrial society Germany, 59-60, 61, 62, 63-6 Norway/Sweden, 121, 127 inflation, 45 Britain, 17, 19-20 US, 167-8, 176-7, 179-83 information society, 64, 67, '72 Inglehart, R., 66, 206, 209 Institute of Economic Affairs, 1'7, 27-8 institutional restrictions, 70-71, 73 International Democratic Union, 113 Ireland, 10, 195, 199, 201-3, 206, 209, 216-17 '


Jay, Peter, 17 Johnson, Lyndon B., I7l~2, 173 Jonnergard, Gustaf, 127 l Joseph, Sir Keith, 17, 21, 24 Kavanagh, Dennis, 21, 26

Kennedy, Judge Anthony, 188 Kennedy, John, F., 170, 172 Keynesianism, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 14, 16, 17, 19 Kinnock, Neil, 33 Kissinger, Henry, 175 Klaus, J., 102 Klingemann, H.D,, 194, 206, 209 Kohl, Helmut, 61, 65, 66, 67, 68-9 Konecny, A.K., 112

Koole, R.A., 84, 85, 88, 90 Kreisky, Bruno, 103 Kuypcr, Abraham, 78, 87

Habermas, J., 63, 64, 67

Haidcr, J., 114 I-Iai lsham, Lord, 18 I-Iambro, CJ., 131

Hansson, Per-Albin, 130 Harris, Nigel, 88

labour movement, 4-5 Labour parties, 6, 126 Britain, 5, 15, 30-31, 33

Netherlands, 80-Sl, 82, 89, 93 Ladd, E.C., HS, 181, 185


The Transformation

of Contemporary


Lauber, Volkmar, 41, 45 Lawson, Nigel, 23 Layton-Henry, Z., 56, 145

muller, w.c., 98, 108, 109, I I I , U P multi-party system, 8, 9, 193

leadership (style/choice)

National Assembly (France), 40, 43, 45 National Enterprise Board, 22 National Health Service, 15, 24, 26-7, 28 National Socialism, 2, 37, 67, 101, 130 nationalism, 1, 10, 35, 69, 113, 127, 141 nationalization, 15, 21-2, 48, 49, 50 NATO, 86,94, 141, 151, 156

Austria, 100-103, 106-9, 116 Britain, 13~14, 16-22, 24, 28-9 France, 37-41, 43-9, 51-2 US, 165-2, 170-21, 173, 175 left-right scale, 193-4, 196, 202-4, 213-20 discriminant analysis, 205-10 Le Pen, .Jean-Marie, 39, 46-50 Levitas, Ruth, I I

Lewin, Leif, 129 liberal conservatism, 9-10 France, 35, 43, 49, 53 Netherlands, 82-6 Norway/Sweden, 137-42 liberal democracy, 3, 4 Liberal parties Britain, 3, 13 Spain, 150, 152 Sweden, 122, 127, 135, 141 liberalism, 2, 7, 9, 11, 164-5, 171-5 Liberation (France), 37, 39 Lind ran, Aroid, 130, 137 Lindstrom, Ulf, 126, 129

Linz, J.J., 145, 147, 154, 156, 157 Lipset, S.M., 178, 179 Lopez Pintor, R., 146, 149, 154 Lowi, T.J., 165, 185, 189 Lubbers, Rood, 95

McCarthyism, 166, 167 Mancha, Antonio Hernandez, 152 market economics, 6, 8-11, 15, 17, 69

'natural majority', 148-9, 150, 152, 160 Nazism, 2, 37, 67, 101, 130 neoconservatism Austria, 108-17

Germany (anatomy), 64-8 Germany (politics), 68-72 neoliberalism, 4-8, 15, 17, 19, 136-8, 142 Netherlands, 1, 7-8 CDA reformist conservatism, 86-9 I party system, 79-81, 93-4 reactionary conservatism, 91-2 VVD liberal conservatism, 82-6 New Deal, 164, 165, 166-8, 171, 172, 174 New Zealand, 6 Nic, N.H., 169, 171, 173-4 Niemoller, B., 90, 194 Nixon, Richard, 165, 169, 170, 171, 172,

173, 175 Norton, P., 28 Norway (and Sweden) 4, 5-6 conservatism concept, 127-9

conservatism decline, 129-30 liberal-conservatism, 137-42 political culture, 120-26 Right Wave, 126, 134-7 welfare state, 131-4

Marxism, 47

Nozick, Robert, 18

Medium Term Financial Strategy, 23 Michigan school, 193 mixed economy, 15-16, 49, 80, 94, 128 Mock, A., 108-9 Mondale, Walter, 185 monetarism, 19-20, 21, 29, 177 money supply, 19-20, 21, 23

Nyaardsvold cabinet, 130

Montero, ].R., 148, 149-50, 151, 156,

157, 159

Oakeshott, Michael, 14

OAS, 40



Occident (later Ordre Nouveau),


occupation (head of household), 197, 200-202, 210 oil crisis, 35, 45 GVP, see Austria

moral conservatism

Partido Socialista Obrcra Espagnol, 145-

Austria, 111-12, 113 Netherlands, 86-91, 92, 94 Norway/Sweden, 140-41

8,150-56,158-9 party loyalists, 220, 22 I

Spain, 148, 151

party system I

US, 166 Mouvement Republicain Populaire, 37, 43

Austria, 98-102, 108-9 Britain, l'7-18, 30-3]

Index 229 France, 3?-8, 40

see also Calvinism, Catholic parties;

Germany, 56, 58-9, 70-71, 73 images, 156-60, 220-21 multi, 8, 9, 193 Netherlands, 29-81, 93-4

Christian Democrats religious variables, 194, 196-200, 210-13, 217

discriminant analysis, 205-9

Norway/Sweden, 120-26 Spain, 146-53 US, 186-7, 188-9 Patten, Christopher, 22

Republican Party (US) conservative agenda, 175-89 liberalism and, 171-5 New Deal (impact), 165, 166-8 reformed (failure), 169-71 Resistance movement, 37, 39

PDM, 42 Peele, Gillian, 18, 32, 165, 178

People's Parties

Rockefeller, Nelson, 171 Rohrmoser, G., 67, 68, 69

Austrian, 103-17

Dutch, 79-86, 87-91, 93-5 Peters, J., 80, 84, 90

Saage, R., 60, 64 Salzburg Programme, 104-6, 113 Sami, G., 146, 149-50, 152, 157, 159-60 Sarlvik, B., 31 Schelsky, H., 59, 60 Schumann, G., 145, 160

Petersson, Olaf, 126

Phillips, K.P., 173, 175, 177, 181 Pinay, Antoine, 38

Plaid Cymru, 31 plebiscite, 40 Pliatsky, Leo, 22

Scottish National Party, 31

Political Reformed Party, 81, 91-2 Pompidou, Georges, 41-2, 52 Popular Coalition, 150-52, 156 Popular Democrats, 149-50, 152, 154-5 populism, 10 Poujade, Pierre, 38-9

Scruton, Roger, 14 SDP-Liberal Alliance, 5, 13-14, 31

Sejersted, Francis, 131-2, 133, 135

self-help groups, 66, 87 Selsdon Group, 17 share-ownership, 23, 24

prices, 16, 20, 85 Pridham G., 58, 59, 71, 194

Shore, Peter, 2 social-liberal policies, 61-4, 68

Prior, James, 21, 29

social bases (European parties), 9-10 community (type), 192, 202, 210, 217

privatization, 1, 22, 23-5, 27, 82, 85 profit-sharing schemes, 23

databases, 195-6 diseriminant/classification analysis,

Progress Party, 124, 135

204-10, 216-20 left-right scale, 193-4, 196, 202-4,

pronounced conservatism, 84

public sector borrowing, 21 Pym, Francis, 29

213-20 occupation (head of household),

197, 200-202, 210

Raab, J., 101 Radicaux, 36, 37, 38, 43 Rassernblemcnt du Peuple Francais, 37-

8, 40, 44 Reassemblement pour la République, 44-

religious variables, 194, 196-200,

205-13, 217 social class Austria, 100-101, 104-5

53, 195, 199, 201-3, 206, 212, 216 Reagan, Ronald, I, 8-9, 69, 94, 165, 178-89

Britain, 30-32 France, 40-42., 44, 48, 50, 53 Netherlands, 85

Reformed Political Association, Sl, 91-2 Reformed Political Federation, 81, 92, 94 * religion 9, 61, 67 ._ polarization, 78, '79, 84-5, 89-90

Norway/Sweden, 120-21, 126 Spain, 154-6, 157-9 US, 167, 171, 176, 180-87 see also working-class conservatism


protection of, 99,

Protestant parties, 80, 92

Norway/Sweden, 120-25, 130,


secularization, '78-9, 84, 9 1 2 5 ,

Social Democrats, 2-6, 11, 13 Germany, 55. 59, 62-3, 65, 70


132-7, 140, 142-3


230 The Transformation

of Contemporary

Social Market Economy, 67, 68 social policy Austria, 98-100, 108, 111-12, 116 France, 39, 43, 46-7, 49, 52-3 Germany, S6-8, 62, 64-6, 68-9, I

Netherlands, 83-6, 88-9 US, 176, 177-9, 187 social security, 26, 86, 87, 88, 89 socialism, 5, `7, 8, 10

France, 37, 41, 45, 46, 48-9, 51, 52 Norway/Sweden, 120, 129, 130, 135 Spain, 145-56, 158, 159, 160 Socioeconomic Council, 89 sociostructural variables, 193, 196-8, 210-11, 219-21 Spain, 4, 8 A P (evolution), 145, 146-53 A P (image/ideology), 145, 156-60

electorate (social profile), 154-6 Right (weakness), 153-4 SPO, 99, 101, 103, 105, 107-8, I l l , 114-17 State Earnings-Related Supplement, 26

Strau, FJ., 63


student protest, 61


Sundquist, J.L., 168, 170, 172 Sweden, see Norway (and Swedenj Syse, J.p., 140 . ..

.. . . . .. . .

. . . . ... ...

Taus, J., 106, 107, 108

taxation, 1, 5, 6, 65 Britain, 21, 23


'trustee thought', 127

Ujifusa, G., 186, IST unemployment, 5, 45, 142

benefit, 26, 85, 89 Britain, 16, 23, 26, 29 US, 163-9, 177-81, 183 Union of the Democratic Centre, 145-

50, 153-9 Union for French Democracy, 43-4,

4?-53 Union pour la Nouvelle République, 40-41 United States, 1, 2, 8-9 conservative agenda, 175-89 liberalism (development), 171-3 liberalism crisis, 173-5 New Deal (impact), 164, 165, 166-8 Republican Party, 165-71 universities, 28, 51-2

value conservatism, 8, 9, 11, 63 Van Someren Downer, Mrs, 83 Veljanovski, C., 14, 24, 25 Vichy regime, 38, 47 Vietnam War, 164, 172-3, 176 Von der Dunk, H., 78, 87 von Hayek, Friedrich, 17 Vranitzky, F., 114 VVD, 79-86, 87~9I, 94 wages, 16, 20, 85 Waldheim, Kurt, 111, 113 Wallace, George, 174 Watergate, 165, 176

France, 44, 45, 48-9, 50, 51

Weimar Republic, 56, 58

Norway/Sweden, 122, 126, 135, 137,

welfare society, 139

142 US, 176, 177, 178 technocratic conservatism, 2, 102, 134 Germany, 59-60, 61, 62, 73 Thatcher, Margaret, 4-5, 13-15, 18-24, 2?-9,31,33,94 trade unions, 5, 63, 115

Britain, 15, 17, 18, 20-21, 29 France, 40-41

Netherlands, 78, 86, 88, 89 Norway/Sweden, 120-21, 134 tripartism, 16, 20

welfare state, 1, 3, 4, 6 Britain, 15-16, 25-8 Germany, 63, 65, 66, 68 Netherlands, 80, 82, 86, 87, 89, 93 Norway/Sweden, 120, 121, 123, 128, 131-4,136,137-43

Willoch, Kare, 130, 134 Wilson, Harold, 15, 32 women, 32, 66, 83, 88, 92, 126 working-class conservatism, 95

Germany, 62, 63, 70 Norway/Sweden, 120, 121, 126,.129


The Transformation of Contemporary Conservatism

Wolfgang C. Miiller is a lecturer in political science at the University of Vienna. He has published on political parties, cabinets and policy making. He is co-editor (with Peter Gerlich and Edgar Grande) of

Sozialpartnerschafr in der Kruse. Leistungen und Grenzen das Neokorporatzl5rnu.y in O'5terreich (Wien,1985).

Gillian Peele is a Fellow and Tutor in Politics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She has published extensively on American and British politics. Her

publications include Revival and Reaction: The Right in Contemporary America (Oxford, 1984).