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Is there currently such a thing as international conservatism?

With the notable exceptions of the USA and Australia, centre right leaders are in the ascendancy at present. Cameron has become UK PM. And right-of-centre parties lead Canada, Germany, France and Italy.

Screen shot 2010-06-04 at 11.22.24Canada's Stephen Harper and Britain's David Cameron held their first meeting yesterday as Prime Ministers of their respective nations. According to the Downing Street website, Mr Cameron described Mr Harper as “an old friend” who was a “great source of support and advice”.

The trouble-making Globe and Mail, however, listed the differences between the two men:

  • Cameron supports a 'Robin Hood' tax on banks. Harper does not.
  • Cameron opposes further fiscal stimulus. Harper supports it.
  • Cameron criticised Israel over the flotilla incident. Harper backed Israel.

The newspaper could and should have listed shared policies such as a commitment to free trade, support for the traditional family, commitment to Afghanistan and democratic reform of the Upper House but it's hard to disagree with the thrust of its conclusion about global conservatism - if there is such a thing:

"While voters across the Western world may have chosen parties on the right (except, notably, the United States), this conservative bloc is far less united, influential or self-aware than the one that ruled the world in the 1980s and early 1990s – or, for that matter, than the centre-left social-democratic bloc that ruled much of the West during the late 1990s and the first half of the last decade."

Current opinion polling in Canada (eg here and here) has Harper ahead of the Balkanised left-wing opposition parties but not by enough to win a majority.


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