January 14, 2008

The Balance of Power 2007

There is nothing particularly wrong with Policy Exchange's latest report on the balance of power between the left and the right across the OECD in 2007- however there are real questions about how much you can infer anything from it. Policy Exchange argues that the majority of the OECD is under the control of the centre right- a fair piece of analysis- though one has to add that were the United States to have gone Democratic in 2004 the majority of the OECD would be controlled by the centre left and don't forget how close the 2004 election was. In truth the US is evenly balanced between left and right. Furthermore there are real questions about whether this means anything- for instance a large number of citizens of the OECD live in Turkey where the big issue in the recent election was about secularism in Islam, an issue which few of the voters who will vote in November in the US will be concerned with. Local issues are often more important than people give them credit for: in South Korea for example relations with the North are very important. Governments like Aznar's in Spain often lose power thanks to miscalculations or like John Major's in the UK thanks in part to sleaze. Furthermore left and right mean different things in different places: many British conservatives would back the Democrats in the States and have always been hostile to Irish nationalism, many US Republicans would not have backed Erdogan in Turkey, and so on. Furthermore all this discussion doesn't reflect the other battle- that of ideas- between the left and the right. Leftwing governments as in New Zealand in the eighties can be very rightwing in practise- and no British Tory needs too much reminding of how leftwing conservative governments can be after listening to an old tape of Harold Macmillan!

Policy Exchange have provided a useful parlour game- I'm not sure its more than that!