column | Not voters, but political parties are becoming more radical

column |  Not voters, but political parties are becoming more radical

There will be elections in France again soon and we will know that too. Jean-Luc Melenchon of the left-wing Nupes bloc incites his supporters with slogans such as “Macron has no mandate!” and “against half-measures!” He claims to herald revolution, while the left-wing bloc also has many reasonable things on the agenda that were until recently on the agenda of the moderate Social Democrats of which Mélenchon was formerly a member: better care, better education, better public transportation, a higher minimum wage. More environment.

Also on the right you see nothing but polarization. There is no (yet) a valid block. But if you think about the leader of the centre-right Republicans, Christian Jacob, using terms like „Chaos for sure” And “miserable failure“Shouting against everything and everyone, you would think that he would soon be able to agree with the radical right wing Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour about such a right-wing bloc.

Are voters becoming more radical? Is the political center shrinking? Two political scientists at the University of Bern, Klaus Armingon and Sarah Engler, investigated this in Switzerland in 2015. The bottom line: political parties are polarized, but society is not. Many citizens remain in the middle. In short, polarization has become a political strategy. It turns out that many Swiss are not allergic to it. Only voters of the radical right SVP and SPD do this. The first vice president is campaigning hard against Muslims, foreigners, the European Union and the (new!) The Socialist Party rages against the wealthy, multinational corporations and capitalism. This message has a special resonance with its supporters. In 1995, 13 percent of vice-presidential voters were on the far right, compared to 28 percent in 2015. In the Socialist Socialist Party, 9 percent were from the far left. Twenty years later, it was 28 percent. Both parties drive political polarization by drawing their supporters away from the center.

Polarization has become a political strategy.

The SVP, the country’s largest party, has won 25 to 30 percent in national elections for twenty years. It will never happen again. It constantly starts polls with radical questions. SP is often the only one who is vehemently opposed to it. Voters from the political milieu rarely identify themselves in it. They lose interest in that boxing match. Participation in referendums is often less than 50 percent. Thus, agitated minorities voted to ban minarets, burqas, and immigration quotas. Swiss coalition governments no longer reach consensus on anything – relations with the EU, neutrality, Covid, they are divided on everything.

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The new chaos around Northern Ireland also shows how far politics has become a strategic issue. from opinion polls. From the hype, from knowing if your supporters are “getting” something or not – then adjust your strategy accordingly. The Conservatives want to consolidate their power on a collision course against the European Union. Politics is less and more about ideas or principles. Party leaders mainly measure the mood of voters. Unlike in the past, they rarely object to this and hardly try to convince the voter. Political leaders are no longer leaders, but followers.

“If there is nothing,” Hannah Arendt told students in Chicago in 1963. general spirit It takes more general opinion That’s about.” In a collection of essays that Arendt wrote between 1953 and 1975, Thinking without a railingHow did you explain to them what? general spirit (community sense) is: we all know ourselves as responsible citizens and then make a decision ourselves, and then we discuss it. In this way, we are slowly working toward a policy that best serves the public interest. Arendt praises Thomas Jefferson, who considered society the highest good but distrusted public opinion. Jefferson was impartial. He believed that it was pointless to group his opinions on all kinds of topics with one party: “As if I can’t think for myself.”

Unfortunately, that is exactly the problem for many politicians these days: that they no longer think for themselves. Dangerous >> adjective.

Caroline de Gruetter He writes weekly about politics and Europe.

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