The middle -

The middle


Doug Saunders considers the decline of centrist parties in the Western world.

The big-tent parties functioned, during their glory years in the postwar decades, as the paternal overlords of protected, closed national economies, engaging in brokerage politics whereby the fruits of growth could be spread out among clients and beneficiaries on the left and right. The big political parties were like family heirlooms, their loyalties kept for life and passed on between generations – badges of personal identity, like Ford and Chevy, Coke and Pepsi, Apple and Microsoft. Membership had its benefits.

But then, in the 2000s, there was what Bruno Cautrès, a political scientist at Paris’s Institute of Political Studies who analyzed dozens of elections, calls a “generational rupture”: Suddenly, he says, voters no longer see parties as badges of loyalty or symbols of lifelong personal identity, but as consumer products, as tools that can be used to address specific concerns.


The middle

  1. Totally agree….and it’s not just centrist parties that are disappearing all over the world….each ‘new’ party left-right-up-down gets a shot….and then gets disposed of as well.

    It happened here first with the PC party….and now Reform is gone…and then the Libs got hit….and probably the NDP and Con parties won’t survive another election cycle either.

    We are sort of breaking into PR whether it’s formal or not, as people search for something different, something that works for the country…every country.

    I will also add that Doug Saunders seems to have the best handle on global affairs of any writer I’ve seen in years. I’ll read anything by him….and am just about to start his new book.

    • Just because you’re precious Liberals have become irrelevant, doesn’t mean that the same fate awaits every other party. The CPC have gained seats and votes in four elections straight. There is no evidence WHATSOEVER that they won’t survive another election cycle, except for the delusional voices in your head.

      Seek help Emily, you need it.

      • See, this is how I can tell your’re a Con. It’s the chip on your shoulder.

        Now pay attention to the topic here….which is about center-left and center-right and large tent parties disappearing all over the world.

        It happened to the PCs here…2 back to back majorities….reduced to 2 people, and now Reform has gone….and the Libs have been hit as well.

        The NDP is a one-election wonder, and the Cons are fighting internally again….so yes, it will happen to them again too.

        PS I’m not a Liberal, and I’m not interested in your ‘chip’

        • I think you’re the one who needs to pay attention. The CPC *is* a large-tent party. What you fail to understand is that the PC’s didn’t disappear, they simply re-branded as today’s CPC. Still a Big Blue Tent! The US Democrats are a Big Tent party. They’re not disappearing all over the world, rabid Liberals like you just like to believe so because you’ve been kicked out of the tent.

          Again, the NDP have been gaining seats in every election since pretty much forever. So calling them a one-election wonder is pretty much like calling the Beatles a one-hit wonder. You can say it all you want, but it just makes you an idiot.

          But by all means, keep propagandizing for your precious Liberals. You might be the last one.

          • Yeeeessss, and large-tent parties are disappearing.

            The PCs went down to 2 MPs….and then got absorbed by Reform, which also disappeared. The Con party of today is like neither of them.

            Yes, the parties are disappearing all over the world

            Did you even READ the opening article here???

          • So what you’re saying is that the CPC is disappearing, after the largest election win over a decade? Even though all possible related metrics say otherwise? Fine, you can live in your Liberal lala-land.

          • Like I said, read the opening article here.

      • Rational observation, emotional response. You’re a bit of a mess right now old boy. Didn’t you win the election?

        • What emotional response? I simply pointed out that her argument was flawed. And I didn’t win any election!

          Or are you suggesting that because the Liberals got their a$$e$ handed to them, that everybody can just spew Liberal B$ all over the place without being questioned? Whatever.

          • Like OMG dude. Like, chill. OMG. 


    • Emily – you missed the BQ!

      • I did indeed….on top of the world one minute, toast the next. LOL

  2. I get the sense that this is one of those articles written to fit a narrative.  He may well have a good point, in that people are looking for far too many personalization options for any one party to fill to any majority of people–“as consumer products, as tools that can be used to address specific concerns.”

    But then he mixes it up with ‘evidence’ of a generational shift during the 2000’s, yet admits that really mostly means after 2008, after a specific event.  And, most striking, he admits that people haven’t become more politically extreme, which is well borne out by the fact that the more ‘extreme’ parties immediately moved toward the centre.

    It isn’t ‘centrist’ parties, in other words, it is ‘big-tent’ parties.  They no longer work in our customized world and that means our electoral system no longer works, either.  At least that’s my opinion.

    • As I’ve said before.. we’ve become too self-important to understand that compromise is a good thing.  This past election goes to show that. We’ve lost the idea of I get some of what I want, you get some of what you want, and are heedlessly heading down the path of “All or nothing!”

      The unfortunate part is that, given how different people all are, eventually we all wind up with nothing.

  3. This isn’t really a new phenomenon.  For many decades, politically-active people have chosen more and more not to join broad-based political parties and instead choose to join single-issue non-governmental organizations.

    I cannot remember where I read this, and I cannot remember the exact statistics or timeframe, but I once read a neat little anecdote that tried to illustrate the phenomenon:
    In the past (I think it was pre-1970), the membership of the UK Conservative Party was really big, and the membership in the UK Birdwatching Society was really low.  Later on (in the 1980s, I think), the numbers had reversed.  The birdwatching society has almost exactly the same number of members that the Conservative Party had in the past, and the Conservative Party had the same numbers at the birdwatchers had previously.  This phenomenon wasn’t limited to conservatives, but the anecdote used the Conservative Party’s numbers for the anecdote.

    • If you happen to be in Oakville tomorrow night, could I interest you in a discussion at their town hall on this very subject?  7:30 p.m.

  4. I think it’s not so much a phenomenon of the middle evaporating, as people realizing that those who previously claimed to represent the middle were actually slipping further and further to the left. They also claimed to be equal brokers to the left and the right, but most younger people in Canada today realize that the endless list of entitlements these so called “centrist” governments have provided over the decades are unsustainable.

    • Please…no commercials.

      • What, exactly, are you accusing me of advertising?

        • LOL the usual Con propaganda….

          • Um, sure. Please don’t reply to my comments anymore. I’ve got more important things to do than waste my time with people who’ve got nothing to add.

          • Hey….if you stop running Con ads on totally unsuitable threads, I won’t have to respond to them.

          • I have an opinion, it might differ from yours. If you have a problem with it, you might want to try to addressing the substance of what my point was.

            You’re simply proving my point correct by showing your inability to rebut it.

            Also, if you feel an overpowering compulsion to “respond” in this fashion to ideas you don’t agree with, you should probably seek out psychiatric help.

          • Spare me the pop psychology and pay attention to the actual topic.

          • Still nothing to actually say, eh? How about you try to FIND the topic!

          • I actually read it, which is obviously more than you did.

    • Most young people today aren’t familiar with the Liberals of several decades ago.  At best, they know Chretien’s Liberals on.  More likely, Martin’s

      And those were the governments that managed to balance the budgets.

      Your talking about an “endless list of entitlements” from the Liberals in the face of the EA!P is not only hypocritical, but demonstrates that you’re still trapped in the 70s. Younger people in Canada today weren’t even born then.

      So, once you’ve caught up to the idea that the 20th century has been over now for more than a decade, you might have something to say that coincides with reality.

  5. “Suddenly”?

    jeez pleaze

    We’ve been getting trained to this attitude for three generations now.