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French Republican President Resigns – The Political Overton Window Has Shifted Too Far

That’s the President of the French Republic Party who has resigned, not the President of the French Republic – unfortunately for anyone who monitors Macron’s performance. What was once considered a natural party of government had truly appalling results in the euro-elections and so fall on his sword he does. As the Tories had truly terrible results here and no on did self-immolate their careers. Pity really.

But the interesting thing here is why? What is is about this centre right which means their support is bleeding off over into what is today called “the far right”? A slightly controversial but useful for all that diagnosis here. The political Overton Window has shifted too far left of the cultural one.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] The leader of France’s main conservative opposition party, The Republicans, resigned on Sunday a week after their humiliating rout in the European elections. In a dramatic announcement on French television, Laurent Wauquiez said: “I have decided to step back. I have decided to withdraw from the presidency of The Republicans. I do not want to be an obstacle. I think the Right has to be rebuild itself.” [/perfectpullquote]

OK, that’s the resignation:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Once seen as the natural party of government, The Republicans won only 8.5 per cent of the vote in the European elections, an even worse defeat than that suffered by the UK Conservative Party.[/perfectpullquote]

It’s more general than just the French suffering this. Much more so – Italy saw much the same, the AfD in Germany, and on.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Across Europe, the centre-Right has lost support as voters have drifted towards fringe parties.[/perfectpullquote]

So, why?

Well, it’s a common enough com[plaint here in the UK that the Tories – in office that is – aren’t in fact conservatives any more. Let’s keep raising that minimum wage, increase the tax burden, do lots and lots of that multiculti enrichment stuff. Whether people should or not isn’t the point.

It’s that this is the generally agreed establishment view of where politics should be done. This is where the Overton Window is, that glimpse into possible policies for a potential world. People who suggest policies that aren’t within this limited range – say, radically lower taxes, a smaller state, pull said state entirely out of the diversity business, leave the EU, stop the micromanagement nonsense over sugar taxes, etc etc, etc, are derided as far right. The insistence is that such policies are outside that Overton Window, are beyond the pale of civilised discourse. Which is what the Overton Window means, that grouping of civilised to talk about possible policies.

So, what’s happened? That centre right is aping the fashionable concerns of the metropolitans. That is, the centre right is really just a different flavour of the centre left. A different group of people sure, with a slightly different emphasis maybe, but the same general worldview and set of policies. Again, that’s what Overton Window rather means. People advocating policies outside of this set aren’t electable.

But then that’s the problem. The Overton Window as seen by the electorate includes many things not thought civilised to discuss by those metropolitans. Which is why people advocating things outside the metro-Overton keep getting elected. Because the nonmetro-Overton includes many things. Which used to be called centre right in fact, even conservative. But which are now called far right.

It’s not that the tastes or opinions of the population have changed at all. It’s that the centre right now espouses policies which 20, 30 years ago would have been called centre left, even straight out culturally left. Meaning that the large share of the population which still accords to those old verities – as that population sees it – aren’t voting for that no longer centre right.

Consider near any current fashionable issue but as an example gay marriage. Out here there are those who think it appalling, of course. The vast majority wondering a bit what the fuss is all about. So, love is love and? Within politics someone who mutters that perhaps a baker shouldn’t be forced to make a gay marriage cake is derided as an extremist homophobe. Out here there’s a great deal of and why should he be so forced? There’re plenty of other bakers who’d like the business aren’t there?

That is, it’s not that the people have swung far right it’s that the centre right has moved left. Meaning that they no longer do represent the views and interests of what was their voting base. Those same views and interests are now being picked up by those who do so represent. And they get the tag “far right” because it is the political establishment’s Overton Window which has shifted, not that of the population.

There’s an easy test of this too. Leave aside the true nutters, National Action and the like. Restrict ourselves to people who actually did win seats at the euros. Care to identify any policy at all in Italy, France or UK which 30 years ago would have been called “far right”? Maybe try again with 50 years ago?

Is it the population’s views that have changed or those of that failing centre right? What do we think, 20, maybe 30% of the population have changed their basic cultural view? Or the few hundred professional politicians have succumbed to metropolitan groupthink?

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Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston
4 years ago

There’s also the opposite of: moving to the centre ground. If “one side” of politics moves to the extremes, the natural opposition will move to the opposite extreme. Look at NornIrn where the political discourse moved away from the sectarian centre where they talked to each other to both extremes where they refuse to acknowlegde each other’s existance. When Corbyn is one “side” of the policial discourse, the other “side” isn’t going to be Soft Toryism. With Remainers moving from: muddle on in the EU to: smash the bigotted Leavers! the natural opposition will move from: dismantle our way out… Read more »

4 years ago

This does appear to be the case in Oz. Tony Abbott’s views would have been considered quite leftist 30 or 40 years ago. Indeed he would have made a good Labor candidate. However he was booted out by the Liberals as ‘far right’. Malcolm Turnbull’s policies always seemed to be ‘The Libs aren’t leftist enough’. Now the election’s over the media seem to be arguing that it’s all the fault of the putrid proles wanting jobs in the coal mines instead of worrying about global warming——-oops climate change. For me, of course, I did notice that all the things I… Read more »

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