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Monday, August 8, 2022

Conservative identity crisis DiePresse.com

They are burned out, unimaginative and overwhelmed by a diffuse political debate. Why many centre-right parties in Europe need to reinvent themselves. From Anna Gabriel, Klaus Knittelfelder, Thomas Prior, Rainer Nowak and our correspondents Peter Stäuber, Christian Gonsa and Christoph Zotter.

Vienna. Trust is dwindling – and with it power: Europe’s moderate conservatism is mired in a deep identity crisis. It is a process that has unfolded in recent years, culminating now, in times of war, energy shortages and inflation, as calls for a protective state grow louder, with the party family of the European People’s Party (EPP) only six of the 27 heads of state and government in the EU puts. Even among them there are shaky candidates like Austria’s chancellor, Karl Nehammer, who is fighting against miserable poll numbers and a dismantling in his own party. In Germany, on the other hand, the Union parties, which have been burned out of power, have to reinvent themselves as strong opposition parties Rally National (RN) took over right-of-centre dominance from Marine Le Pen. Only in parts of Eastern Europe are the conservatives still strong. There is no one-size-fits-all explanation for this development – and yet several interrelated factors have favored the fall of the traditional parties.

wear and tear of power

Europe’s major conservative, Christian-Democratic parties such as the Partido Popular (PP) in Spain, the CDU/CSU in Germany and the Républicains in France make a worn-out impression today. “There is a lack of creative drive,” analyzes Thomas Biebricher, political scientist at the Copenhagen Business School, in an interview with the “Presse”. “The parties no longer have an identity.” On the one hand, this is due to internal obstacles, such as the pale, profileless PP boss Alberto Núñez Feijóo. CDU man Friedrich Merz, on the other hand, is in the process of uniting a disoriented, exhausted party behind him. In Germany and Austria, decades of participation in the government have led to a real erosion of power in the Union parties and in the ÖVP. In addition, many core issues no longer correspond to the spirit of the times: young people do not believe in traditional values ​​such as those anchored in the guidelines of the centre-right parties. But above all, the future issue of the climate crisis is becoming a growing problem for the conservatives: their tendentially liberal economic attitude thwarts the general desire for a progressively controlled climate policy.

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