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What are they?
Conservatism is about keeping things the way they are (or were), as well as a strong support of individual responsibility. As an ideology, it is based heavily on traditional values often associated with heritage and religion. Due to conservatism’s devotion to heritage and past, it is usually very proud of the country, resulting in conservative parties being very patriotic or nationalist. That sets conservative parties right of center most of the time.
Conservatives generally favor deregulated markets and regulated social issues. As with liberals, they are very pro-business and free market oriented. On social issues, however, conservatives generally oppose progressive legislation. This is primarily due to the adherence to traditional values. Due to the dedication to economics, conservatives usually get along well with liberals, so long as there is no division along the lines of social issues.
Unfortunately, due to the conservative parties being the associated with patriotism, they sometimes work together with right-wing populist or even extremist parties or their constituents (particularly on issues involving crime or immigration).
Conservative parties follow a strong pro-business agenda. This means they usually favor privatization, smaller government, and oppose labor unions. The interest in business will occasionally put them at odds with environmentalists.
On social issues, conservatives generally view progressive agendas with suspicion. Particularly the issues of abortion, gay rights, marriage, and family are influenced by cultural and religious values. As the more patriotic parties, conservative parties are also usually the most pro-military. Conservatism is also usually generally in favor of punishment as deterrence over rehabilitation and for strong police forces. This also results in a more favorable view of surveillance of the civilian population. The dedication to the own country also pits the conservatives against immigration, particularly illegal immigration.
All of this results in conservatives favoring a strong government, and as a result, conservative governments are more likely to make use of threats of force and force against foreign threats. Patriotism is also an inhibiting factor in conflicts with other countries, as the constituency favors leaders capable of coming out of the conflict as the winner.
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What are they?
Nationalism is all about the homeland. Most issues are focused on how they affect the home country, culture, and the indigenous (or majority) population. They are similar to conservative parties and share many common values. However, their dedication to the nation is usually greater than to a set of traditional values and that places them firmly right on the political spectrum.
Nationalists value the homeland above all else, which creates a common ground with conservative parties. The difference between conservative parties and nationalist parties is sometimes blurred, particularly because nationalists often share traditional values with conservatives where cultural heritage is concerned. Depending on how extreme the party’s policies are, nationalists are either shunned or cooperate with other right-wing or center-right parties.
Nationalists value their nation, culture, and heritage above all else. This may include their religious traditions. It is not uncommon for this to take on racist forms, with nationalist parties openly rejecting other cultures, religions, or immigrants.
In foreign policy, nationalists make difficult partners, as strength and (over)confidence are valued traits in dealing with other countries. That the own country is correct by grace of being that country is another hindrance in resolving bilateral or international conflicts or disagreements.
What are they?
Theocracies are rule by a particular religion. Their religious laws form the foundations of the legal system for the theocrats. The commitment to religion means that theocrats are very similar to conservatives (in fact, another name for theocratic parties can be ultra-conservative) which places them firmly on the right of the political spectrum.
Theocrats use their religion as a basis for all policies. This makes conservatives and occasionally nationalists their primary political allies, when they aren’t competing for voters. Left-wing parties, specifically those skeptical of religion, rarely cooperate with theocrats.
Traditional values as written in their scripture form the foundation of theocrat values. Usually, this means an ultra-conservative policy regarding families, the roles of men and women, abortion, gay rights, and ending a separation of church and state. It is not unlikely for the theocratic parties to urge using their scripture for common law. Theocrats often show disdain if not loathing for other denominations, and sometimes even sub-groups of their own denomination. Other times they lobby together with other theocrats of other denominations to further their policies. Since religion and far-left ideologies have strong differences, theocrats are often economically right by default.
In international politics, theocrats behave very dogmatically, sometimes basing their foreign policy on scripture from several thousand years ago or advocating the sometimes violent spread of their own denomination.
What are they?
Liberalism is all about freedom, hence the name (liberal – free, such as in Liberal Arts – Free Arts). Most of the positions liberals take on issues will be based around individual liberty. This makes liberalism a very centrist ideology, as greater freedom on a social level is traditionally left-wing, while greater freedom on an economic level is more right-wing.
The devotion to individual liberty sets liberals at odds with parties that advocate more restriction on social or economic issues. However, since most other ideologies favor less regulation in the other set of issues, this also creates some common ground with most parties. A liberal party’s stance on cooperating with left-wing or right-wing parties will generally depend on the political climate, particularly which issues (economic or social) are more important to those concerned.
Liberal parties are generally free-market oriented. Hence, they usually have a very pro-business slant to their policies. Their values include deregulation (i.e. “smaller government”) over bureaucracy, privatization over state-run enterprises, and opposition to labor unions.
On a social scale, liberal parties tend to be progressive, meaning they don’t ascribe to “traditional values” that they adhere to. This makes them more favorable towards legal abortions, gay rights, and civil liberties. Liberals are usually opposed to surveillance, national identification, and other forms of security measures that infringe the right of privacy.
Since they are quite pro-business, they are often at odds with advocates of environmentalism.
Overall, liberals are dedicated to the concept of individual liberty coupled with individual responsibility, meaning that people should be free to do what they want and that the state shouldn’t stick up for their mistakes.
What are they?
Populist parties or movements, unlike traditional parties, generally focus on very few issues. They dedicate a lot of their attention to these, though. Populists usually exploit fears or the prevalence of a certain topic in the political landscape proposing a particularly popular or radical solution to the problem.
Populists come from all sides of the spectrum, even the center.
Populist movements generally exploit an issue that larger parties have not dedicated enough attention to. This results in them having a massive increase in gross percentage of votes, while having a small portion of the overall percentage. However, this can make them kingmakers in most parliamentary systems. Depending on the results and platforms, populists will generally work together with more mainstream parties of their side of the political spectrum, pushing their personal issues while allowing the mainstream party more leeway where the rest is concerned. However, sometimes populists are shunned by traditional parties.
Since populists generally exploit a strong concern among the populace, they usually only have on main value that each individual party focuses on. Common right-wing issues include family values, crime, or immigration. Right-wing populists can often be accused of fishing for votes in the constituency of nationalist parties. Left-wing issues often involve fears of unemployment or other cutbacks on the welfare state. They are particularly successful when such problems are prevalent and mainstream left parties are seen as their cause. Left-wing populists may receive votes from communist or socialist parties, or may even be such parties attempting a comeback.
Social Democrat Parties
What are they?
Social Democracy is concerned with the welfare state, while lacking socialism’s or communism’s totalitarian sheen. For a social democrat, the state exists to serve the people, and most of his or her values focus on the relationship between the two. This sets social democracy left of center.
The distinction between traditional socialists and the social democrats is primarily that social democrats are dedicated to democracy as a form of government and do not question the validity of a free market. This still leaves a lot in common with other left-wing parties on an economic scale, while putting them at odds with liberals and conservatives. Social democrats tend to be the “working man’s party” and focus more on the rights of workers as opposed to businesses.
However, since most social democrat parties are in direct opposition to conservatives, they tend to pick up social issues that contradict those of conservatives to gain voters. This makes them more compatible with liberals on a social level.
Unfortunately, many social democrat parties stem from communist and socialist parties of the past and such party rhetoric is still in high favor with the party base. However, left-wing parties usually cooperate even less with others of their kind than with center and center-right parties, especially on a national level.
Social democrats are very much in favor of “the working man.” This means that they generally support policies that may be detrimental to big businesses: Labor unions, minimum wages, and protection from being fired are core values of social democrats. In compliance with the commitment to the welfare-state, social democrats also tend to favor universal healthcare, comprehensive welfare, and state-run social security.
Internationalism is a strong factor in social democrat and these governments tend to get along well with other like-minded governments.
What are they?
Socialism is centered on a concept of an integrated society. It spurns inequality, particularly of wealth. This dedication to social values and opposition to free-market economics puts socialism on the left of the political spectrum.
The deep opposition to capitalism makes cooperation with conservative or liberal parties nigh impossible. Even social democrats are hard-pressed to cooperate with socialists, since the two are divided by their position on economics. The usual lack of cooperation between left-wing parties makes socialist coalitions unlikely as well.
Socialists value equality of classes and seek fair treatment of all members of society. This puts them at odds with the wealthy and/or large businesses, which have much to lose under a socialist government. Socialists favor state and collective owned businesses and utilities, since these are close to the ideal of all property owned by the people.
Unlike in national politics, socialist parties tend to work very well together with others of their kind in international politics, due to the strong internationalism. Relations to nations with strong liberal economic systems are strained.
What are they?
Greens are environmentalists. The environment is the primary focus for members of this ideology. Traditionally, most environmentalists are leftists, so green parties tend to be situated on the left of the political spectrum.
Greens usually favor pacifism in addition to environmental protection. This usually puts them at odds with right-wing parties, while the pro-environmental stance clashes with liberal pro-business values. However, since environmentalism can have a strong hold in populations, greens can pair off with almost any moderate party from either side of the spectrum. However, sometimes larger mainstream parties adopt green policies if these are popular enough, effectively competing for votes with the greens.
Greens are strongly in favor of environmental protection and pacifism. Furthermore, greens oppose infringements on privacy, and therefore oppose strong police forces and surveillance, and push for security of personal data. Since they are traditionally pacifist, greens tend to shun military solutions to conflicts. Greens are usually in favor of diversity and tend to be pro-immigration, pro-gay rights, and pro-multiculturalism. At odds with pro-business stances are the strong will to regulate businesses, particularly where pollution and hazardous materials are involved, as well as a strong opposition to genetically modified organisms and stem cell research.
One of the prime goals of green foreign policy is avoiding confrontations and global efforts in environmental protection. This usually means that green parties can get along with other governments that aren’t so pro-business that they become anti-environment or those that avoid military confrontations.