Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Conservatism is a

property rights, rule of law, aristocracy, and monarchy.[5] Conservatives tend to favour institutions and practices that enhance social order and historical continuity.[6]

Edmund Burke, an 18th-century Anglo-Irish statesman who opposed the French Revolution but supported the American Revolution, is credited as one of the forefathers of conservative thought in the 1790s along with Savoyard statesman Joseph de Maistre.[7] The first established use of the term in a political context originated in 1818 with François-René de Chateaubriand during the period of Bourbon Restoration that sought to roll back the policies of the French Revolution and establish social order.[8]

Conservatism has varied considerably as it has adapted itself to existing traditions and national cultures.[9] Thus, conservatives from different parts of the world, each upholding their respective traditions, may disagree on a wide range of issues.[10] Historically associated with right-wing politics, the term has been used to describe a wide range of views. Conservatism may be either libertarian or authoritarian,[11] populist or elitist,[12] progressive or reactionary,[13] moderate or extreme.[14]

Beliefs and principles

Some political scientists, such as Samuel P. Huntington, have seen conservatism as situational. Under this definition, conservatives are seen as defending the established institutions of their time.[15] According to Quintin Hogg, the chairman of the British Conservative Party in 1959: "Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself."[16] Conservatism is often used as a generic term to describe a "right-wing viewpoint occupying the political spectrum between [classical] liberalism and fascism".[1]

Not all conservatives consider a free society an important part of conservative philosophy, some having a more sceptical view of human nature. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica:

Edmund Burke, often called the father of conservative philosophy, shocked his contemporaries by insisting with brutal frankness that 'illusions' and 'prejudices' are socially necessary. He believed that most human beings are innately depraved, steeped in original sin, and unable to better themselves with their feeble reason. Better, he said, to rely on the 'latent wisdom' of prejudice, which accumulates slowly through the years, than to 'put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason.' Among such prejudices are those that favour an established church and a landed aristocracy; members of the latter, according to Burke, are the 'great oaks' and 'proper chieftains' of society, provided that they temper their rule with a spirit of timely reform and remain within the constitutional framework.'[17][excessive quote]


Despite the lack of a universal definition, certain themes can be recognised as common across conservative thought. According to Michael Oakeshott:

To be conservative […] is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.[18]

Such traditionalism may be a reflection of trust in time-tested methods of social organisation, giving 'votes to the dead'.[19] Traditions may also be steeped in a sense of identity.[19]


In contrast to the tradition-based definition of conservatism, some left-wing political theorists like Corey Robin define conservatism primarily in terms of a general defence of social and economic inequality.[20] From this perspective, conservatism is less an attempt to uphold old institutions and more "a meditation on—and theoretical rendition of—the felt experience of having power, seeing it threatened, and trying to win it back".[21] On another occasion, Robin argues for a more complex relation:

Conservatism is a defense of established hierarchies, but it is also fearful of those established hierarchies. It sees in their assuredness of power the source of corruption, decadence and decline. Ruling regimes require some kind of irritant, a grain of sand in the oyster, to reactivate their latent powers, to exercise their atrophied muscles, to make their pearls.[22]

In Conservatism: A Rediscovery (2022), political philosopher Yoram Hazony argues that, in a traditional conservative community, members have importance and influence to the degree they are honoured within the social hierarchy, which includes factors such as age, experience, and wisdom.[23] Conservatives often glorify hierarchies, as demonstrated in an aphorism by conservative philosopher Nicolás Gómez Dávila: "Hierarchies are celestial. In hell all are equal."[24] The word hierarchy has religious roots and translates to 'rule of a high priest.'[25]


Conservatism has been called a "philosophy of human imperfection" by Noël O'Sullivan, reflecting among its adherents a negative view of human nature and pessimism of the potential to improve it through 'utopian' schemes.[26] The "intellectual godfather of the realist right", Thomas Hobbes, argued that the state of nature for humans was "poor, nasty, brutish, and short", requiring centralised authority.[27]


Authority is a core tenet of conservatism.[28][29][30] More specifically, conservatives tend to believe in traditional authority. This form of authority, according to Max Weber, is "resting on an established belief in the sanctity of immemorial traditions and the legitimacy of those exercising authority under them".[31][32] Alexandre Kojève distinguishes between two different forms of traditional authority:

  • The Authority of the Father—represented by actual fathers as well as conceptual fathers such as priests and monarchs.
  • The Authority of the Master—represented by aristocrats and military commanders.[33]

Robert Nisbet acknowledges that the decline of traditional authority in the modern world is partly linked with the retreat of old institutions such as guild, order, parish, and family—institutions that formerly acted as intermediaries between the state and the individual.[34][35] Hannah Arendt claims that the modern world suffers an existential crisis with a "dramatic breakdown of all traditional authorities," which are needed for the continuity of an established civilisation.[36][37]


Reactionism is a tradition in

mass culture and secularism, although different groups of reactionaries may choose different traditional values to revive.[6][40]

Some political scientists, such as Corey Robin, treat the words reactionary and conservative as synonyms.[41] Others, such as Mark Lilla, argue that reactionism and conservatism are distinct worldviews.[42] Francis Wilson defines conservatism as "a philosophy of social evolution, in which certain lasting values are defended within the framework of the tension of political conflict".[43]

Some reactionaries favour a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society, which that person believes possessed positive characteristics absent from contemporary society. An early example of a powerful reactionary movement was German Romanticism, which centred around concepts of organicism, medievalism, and traditionalism against the forces of rationalism, secularism, and individualism that were unleashed in the French Revolution.[44]

In political discourse, being a reactionary is generally regarded as negative; Peter King observed that it is "an unsought-for label, used as a torment rather than a badge of honor".[45] Despite this, the descriptor has been adopted by writers such as the Italian esoteric traditionalist Julius Evola,[46] the Austrian monarchist Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn,[47] the Colombian political theologian Nicolás Gómez Dávila, and the American historian John Lukacs.[48]

Intellectual history


In Great Britain, the

Restoration period (1660–1688) was a form of proto-conservatism that supported a hierarchical society with a monarch who ruled by divine right. However, Tories differ from most later, more moderate, mainstream conservatives in that they opposed the idea of popular sovereignty and rejected the authority of parliament and freedom of religion. Robert Filmer's royalist treatise Patriarcha (published in 1680 but written before the English Civil War
of 1642–1651) became accepted as the statement of their doctrine.

However, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 damaged this principle by establishing a constitutional government in England, leading to the hegemony of the Tory-opposed Whig ideology. Faced with defeat, the Tories reformed their movement. They adopted more moderate conservative positions, such as holding that sovereignty was vested in the three estates of Crown, Lords, and Commons rather than solely in the Crown.[49] Richard Hooker, Marquess of Halifax, and David Hume were proto-conservatives of the period. Halifax promoted pragmatism in government whilst Hume argued against political rationalism and utopianism.[8][50]

Philosophical founders

Edmund Burke has been widely regarded as the philosophical founder of modern conservatism.[51][52] He served as the private secretary to the Marquis of Rockingham and as official pamphleteer to the Rockingham branch of the Whig party.[53] Together with the Tories, they were the conservatives in the late 18th century United Kingdom.[54]

Edmund Burke (1729–1797)

Burke's views were a mixture of conservatism and republicanism. He supported the

religious toleration.[57] Burke ultimately justified the social order on the basis of tradition: tradition represented the wisdom of the species, and he valued community and social harmony over social reforms.[58]

Joseph de Maistre (1753–1821)

Another form of conservatism developed in France in parallel to conservatism in Britain. It was influenced by Counter-Enlightenment works by philosophers such as Joseph de Maistre and Louis de Bonald. Many continental conservatives do not support separation of church and state, with most supporting state cooperation with the Catholic Church, such as had existed in France before the Revolution. Conservatives were also early to embrace nationalism, which was previously associated with liberalism and the Revolution in France.[59] Another early French conservative, François-René de Chateaubriand, espoused a romantic opposition to modernity, contrasting its emptiness with the 'full heart' of traditional faith and loyalty.[60] Elsewhere on the continent, German thinkers Justus Möser and Friedrich von Gentz criticised the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen that came of the Revolution. Opposition was also expressed by German idealists such as Adam Müller and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the latter inspiring both leftist and rightist followers.[61]

Both Burke and Maistre were critical of democracy in general, though their reasons differed. Maistre was pessimistic about humans being able to follow rules, while Burke was sceptical about humans' innate ability to make rules. For Maistre, rules had a divine origin, while Burke believed they arose from custom. The lack of custom for Burke, and the lack of divine guidance for Maistre, meant that people would act in terrible ways. Both also believed that liberty of the wrong kind led to bewilderment and political breakdown. Their ideas would together flow into a stream of anti-rationalist, romantic conservatism, but would still stay separate. Whereas Burke was more open to argumentation and disagreement, Maistre wanted faith and authority, leading to a more illiberal strain of thought.[62]

Ideological variants

Liberal conservatism

Ulf Kristersson, leader of the liberal-conservative Moderate Party and incumbent Prime Minister of Sweden

Liberal conservatism is a variant of conservatism that is strongly influenced by

industrial revolution,[65][66] the conservative ideology in many countries adopted economic liberalism, especially in countries where liberal economic ideas have been the norm such as the United States.[67]

Fiscal conservatism

Pennsylvania Avenue
, Washington, D.C.

Fiscal conservatism is the economic philosophy of prudence in government spending and debt.[68] In Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), Edmund Burke argued that a government does not have the right to run up large debts and then throw the burden on the taxpayer:

[I]t is to the property of the citizen, and not to the demands of the creditor of the state, that the first and original faith of civil society is pledged. The claim of the citizen is prior in time, paramount in title, superior in equity. The fortunes of individuals, whether possessed by acquisition or by descent or in virtue of a participation in the goods of some community, were no part of the creditor's security, expressed or implied...[T]he public, whether represented by a monarch or by a senate, can pledge nothing but the public estate; and it can have no public estate except in what it derives from a just and proportioned imposition upon the citizens at large.

National conservatism

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the national-conservative party Brothers of Italy as well as the first female Prime Minister of Italy

National conservatism is a political term used primarily in Europe to describe a variant of conservatism which concentrates more on national interests than standard conservatism as well as upholding cultural and ethnic identity,[69] while not being outspokenly ultra-nationalist or supporting a far-right approach.[70] National conservatism is orientated towards upholding national sovereignty, which includes limited immigration and a strong national defence.[71] In Europe, national conservatives are usually eurosceptics.[72][73] Yoram Hazony has argued for national conservatism in his work The Virtue of Nationalism (2018).[74]

Traditionalist conservatism

Traditionalist conservatism, also known as classical conservatism, emphasises the need for the principles of

counter-revolutionary, defying the stigma that has attached to these terms since the Enlightenment. Having a hierarchical view of society, many traditionalist conservatives, including a few notable Americans such as Ralph Adams Cram,[76] William S. Lind,[77] and Charles A. Coulombe,[78] defend the monarchical
political structure as the most natural and beneficial social arrangement.

Cultural conservatism

Cultural conservatives support the preservation of a

cultural values, either of a nation or a shared culture that is not defined by national boundaries. The shared culture may be as divergent as Western culture or Chinese culture. In the United States, the term "cultural conservative" may imply a conservative position in the culture war. Cultural conservatives hold fast to traditional ways of thinking even in the face of monumental change, strongly believing in traditional values and traditional politics.[79]

Social conservatism

2012 March for Life in Paris, France

Social conservatives believe that society is built upon a fragile network of relationships which need to be upheld through duty, traditional values, and established institutions; and that the government has a role in encouraging or enforcing traditional values or practices. A social conservative wants to preserve traditional morality and social mores, often by opposing what they consider radical policies or social engineering.[80] Some social-conservative stances are the following:

Religious conservatism

Religious conservatism principally applies the teachings of particular religions to politics—sometimes by merely proclaiming the value of those teachings, at other times by having those teachings influence laws.[85] In most democracies, political conservatism seeks to uphold traditional family structures and social values. Religious conservatives typically oppose abortion, LGBT behaviour (or, in certain cases, identity), drug use,[86] and sexual activity outside of marriage. In some cases, conservative values are grounded in religious beliefs, and conservatives seek to increase the role of religion in public life.[87]

Christian democracy is a moderately conservative centre-right ideology inspired by Christian social teaching.[88] It originated as a reaction against the industrialisation and urbanisation associated with laissez-faire-capitalism.[89] In post-war Europe, Christian-democratic parties dominated politics in several nations, for example CDU and CSU in Germany, Democrazia Cristiana in Italy, and Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in Ireland.[90] Many post-war Europeans saw Christian democracy as a moderate alternative to the extremes of right-wing nationalism and left-wing communism.[91] Christian-democratic parties were especially popular among European women, who often voted for these parties to a large extent due to their pro-family policies.[92]

Paternalistic conservatism

Paternalistic conservatism is a strand in conservatism which reflects the belief that societies exist and develop organically and that members within them have obligations towards each other.

High Tories.[citation needed

In more contemporary times, its proponents stress the importance of a

Toryism.[96] There have been a variety of one-nation conservative governments in the United Kingdom with exponents such as Prime Ministers Disraeli, Stanley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, and Harold Macmillan.[97]

In 19th-century Germany, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck adopted a set of social programs, known as state socialism, which included insurance for workers against sickness, accident, incapacity, and old age. The goal of this conservative state-building strategy was to make ordinary Germans, not just the Junker aristocracy, more loyal to state and Emperor.[6] Chancellor Leo von Caprivi promoted a conservative agenda called the "New Course".[98]

Progressive conservatism

In the United States, President Theodore Roosevelt has been identified as the main exponent of progressive conservatism. Roosevelt stated that he had "always believed that wise progressivism and wise conservatism go hand in hand".[99] The Republican administration of President William Howard Taft was progressive conservative, and he described himself as a believer in progressive conservatism.[99] President Dwight D. Eisenhower also declared himself an advocate of progressive conservatism.[100]

In Canada, a variety of conservative governments have been part of the Red Tory tradition, with Canada's former major conservative party being named the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1942 to 2003.[101] Prime Ministers Arthur Meighen, R. B. Bennett, John Diefenbaker, Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney, and Kim Campbell led Red Tory federal governments.[101]

Authoritarian conservatism

King Alexander I of Yugoslavia and Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss of Austria, authoritarian conservative dictators who were assassinated by fascist and Nazi political enemies

Authoritarian conservatism refers to

autocratic regimes that centre their ideology around national conservatism, rather than ethnic nationalism, though certain racial components such as antisemitism may exist.[102][103] Authoritarian conservative movements show strong devotion towards religion, tradition, and culture while also expressing fervent nationalism akin to other far-right nationalist movements.[104][105] Examples of authoritarian conservative statesmen include Miklós Horthy in Hungary,[106] Ioannis Metaxas in Greece,[107] António de Oliveira Salazar in Portugal,[108] Engelbert Dollfuss in Austria,[109] and Francisco Franco in Spain.[110]

Authoritarian conservative movements were prominent in the same era as fascism, with which it sometimes clashed.[111] Although both ideologies shared core values such as nationalism and had common enemies such as communism and materialism, there was nonetheless a contrast between the traditionalist and elitist nature of authoritarian conservatism and the revolutionary and populist nature of fascism—thus it was common for authoritarian conservative regimes to suppress rising fascist and Nazi movements.[112] The hostility between the two ideologies is highlighted by the struggle for power in Austria, which was marked by the assassination of the ultra-Catholic dictator Engelbert Dollfuss by Austrian Nazis. Likewise, Croatian fascists assassinated King Alexander I of Yugoslavia.[113] In Romania, as the fascist Iron Guard was gaining popularity and Nazi Germany was making advances on the European political stage, King Carol II ordered the execution of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu and other top-ranking Romanian fascists.[114] The exiled German Emperor Wilhelm II was an enemy of Adolf Hitler, stating that Nazism made him ashamed to be a German for the first time in his life and referring to the Nazis as "a bunch of shirted gangsters" and "a mob … led by a thousand liars or fanatics".[115][116] The Catholic priest António de Oliveira Salazar, who was Portugal’s dictator for 40 years, denounced fascism and Nazism as a "pagan Caesarism" that did not recognise legal, religious, or moral limits.[117]

Political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset has examined the class basis of right-wing extremist politics in the 1920–1960 era. He reports:

Conservative or rightist extremist movements have arisen at different periods in modern history, ranging from the Horthyites in Hungary, the Christian Social Party of Dollfuss in Austria, Der Stahlhelm and other nationalists in pre-Hitler Germany, and Salazar in Portugal, to the pre-1966 Gaullist movements and the monarchists in contemporary France and Italy. The right extremists are conservative, not revolutionary. They seek to change political institutions in order to preserve or restore cultural and economic ones, while extremists of the centre [fascists/Nazis] and left [communists/anarchists] seek to use political means for cultural and social revolution. The ideal of the right extremist is not a totalitarian ruler, but a monarch, or a traditionalist who acts like one. Many such movements in Spain, Austria, Hungary, Germany, and Italy have been explicitly monarchist […] The supporters of these movements differ from those of the centrists, tending to be wealthier, and more religious, which is more important in terms of a potential for mass support.[118]

anti-liberalism to extremes. The right-wing authoritarian is a conservative who takes fear of democracy to extremes."[119]

During the Cold War, right-wing military dictatorships were prominent in Latin America, with most nations being under military rule by the middle of the 1970s.[120] One example of this was General Augusto Pinochet, who ruled over Chile from 1973 to 1990.[121] In the 21st century, the authoritarian style of government experienced a worldwide renaissance with conservative statesmen such as Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Narendra Modi in India, and Donald Trump in the United States.[122]

National variants

Conservative parties vary widely from country to country in the goals they wish to achieve.[4] Both conservative and classical liberal parties tend to favour private ownership of property, in opposition to communist, socialist, and green parties, which favour communal ownership or laws regulating responsibility on the part of property owners. Where conservatives and liberals differ is primarily on social issues, where conservatives tend to reject behaviour that does not conform to some social norm. Modern conservative parties often define themselves by their opposition to liberal or socialist parties.

The United States usage of the term conservative is unique to that country, where its first modern usage was for pro-free enterprise opponents of the New Deal.[123]



Chinese conservatism can be traced back to Confucius, whose philosophy is based on the values of loyalty, duty, and respect. He believed in a hierarchically organised society, modeled after the patriarchal family and headed by an absolute sovereign. However, Confucius also believed that the state should employ a meritocratic class of administrators and advisers, recruited by civil service exams. An alternative school of thought called Legalism argued that administrative discipline, not Confucian virtue, was crucial for the governance of the state.[124]

For thousands of years, China was ruled by monarchs of various imperial dynasties. The Xinhai Revolution of 1911 overthrew Puyi, the last Chinese Emperor, and ushered in the Republic of China. Between 1927 and 1949, China was ruled by the party of Kuomintang, which became more right-wing after General Chiang Kai-shek purged communists from his party. Following his defeat in the Chinese Civil War by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Chiang continued ruling the island of Taiwan until his death in 1975.[125]

On the mainland Chinese conservatism was vehemently opposed and suppressed by the CCP. During the Cultural Revolution, young people formed cadres of Red Guards throughout the country and sought to destroy the Four Olds: old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits. Many historical artifacts and religious sites of traditional Chinese culture were destroyed.[126]

In recent decades, Chinese conservatism has experienced a national revival.[127] The ancient schools of Confucianism and Legalism found greater acceptance in mainstream Chinese thought.[128][129] General Secretary Xi Jinping called traditional Chinese culture the "soul" of the nation and believed it is the foundation of the party's culture, placing less emphasis on Marxism.[130]


Indian politics has long been dominated by aristocratic and religious elites in one of the most hierarchically stratified nations in the world.[131][132] In modern times, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, represents conservative politics. With over 170 million members as of October 2022,[133][134] the BJP is by far the world's largest political party.[135] It promotes Hindu nationalism, a hostile foreign policy against Pakistan, and a conservative social and fiscal policy.[136]


Israeli conservatism is based around upholding

closer ties with the United States.[137]


Conservatism has been the dominant political ideology throughout modern Japanese history.[138] The right-wing conservative Liberal Democratic Party has been the dominant ruling party since 1955, often referred to as the 1955 System.[139] Therefore, some experts consider Japan a democratically elected one-party state.[140]

Up until 1868, Japan was largely a feudal state, ruled by members of the aristocratic Samurai order with its bushido code of honour. In the Meiji era, a process of modernisation, industrialisation, and nationalisation was inititated. During the era of World War II, Japan was transformed into an ultranationalist, imperialist state that conquered much of east and southeast Asia.[141] Contemporary conservatives, notably during the second premiership of Shinzo Abe from 2012 to 2020, advocate for revising the country's constitution, particularly Article 9 which renounces war and prohibits Japan from maintaining a military.[142]

Japan is the oldest continuing monarchy in the history of mankind, with Naruhito currently serving as Emperor of Japan.[143] In accordance with the principle of monarchy, Japanese society has an authoritarian family structure with a traditionalist fatherly authority that is primarily transferred to the oldest son.[144]

Special Higher Police to suppress socialists and communists more effectively.[146] In 1936 the Anti-Comintern Pact was signed between the Empire of Japan and Nazi Germany against the Communist International (Comintern)—a pact later joined by the Kingdom of Italy, Francoist Spain, and the Kingdom of Hungary.[147] The Japanese term tenkō refers to the coerced ideological conversions of Japanese socialists who were induced to renounce leftist ideology and enthusiastically embrace the Emperor-centric, capitalist, and imperialist ideology favoured by the state.[148] In the late 1940s and early 1950s, during the Red Purge, tens of thousands of supporters of left-wing groups, especially those affiliated with the Japanese Communist Party, were removed from their jobs in government, schools, and universities.[149]

Shinzō Abe, and Yoshihide Suga, have been members.[150]

A highly developed and industrialised nation, Japan is more capitalistic and Western-orientated than other Asian nations, some experts considering Japan part of the Western world.[151] In 1960 a treaty was signed, establishing a military alliance between the United States and Japan.


Singapore's only conservative party is the People's Action Party (PAP). It is currently in government and has been since independence in 1965. It promotes conservative values in the form of Asian democracy and Asian values.[152]

Having governed for over six decades, the PAP is the longest uninterrupted governing party among modern multiparty parliamentary democracies. It is the second-longest governing party in history after Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which led for 71 years from 1929 to 2000.[153]

South Korea

South Korean politician and army general

Yushin Constitution, ushering in the Fourth Republic. He ruled the country as a dictator until his assassination in 1979.[154]

Right-wing conservative parties have dominated South Korean politics throughout its modern history. South Korea's major conservative party, the

became the fourteenth President of Korea.

When the conservative party was beaten by the opposition party in the general election, it changed its form again to follow the party members' demand for reforms. It became the New Korea Party, but it changed again one year later since the President Kim Young-sam was blamed by the citizen for the International Monetary Fund.[clarification needed] It changed its name to Grand National Party (GNP). Since the late Kim Dae-jung assumed the presidency in 1998, GNP had been the opposition party until Lee Myung-bak won the presidential election of 2007.


European conservatism has taken many different expressions. During the first half of the 20th century, as socialism was gaining power in Russia and other nations, conservatism in countries such as Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, and Spain transformed into the far-right, becoming more authoritarian and extreme.[155]

European nations, with the exception of

Andorra, Belgium, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Some reactionary movements in republican nations, such as Action Française in France, the Monarchist National Party in Italy, and the Black-Yellow Alliance
in Austria, have advocated a restoration of the monarchy.


Austrian conservatism originated with Prince

Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was the most diverse state in Europe with twelve nationalities living under a unifying monarch.[157] The Empire was fragmented in the aftermath of World War I, ushering in the democratic First Austrian Republic


Patriotic Front, into which the paramilitary Heimwehr and the Christian Social Party were merged, became the only legal political party in the resulting authoritarian regime, the Federal State of Austria.[159]

While having close ties to

Catholic clergy were arrested and their properties were confiscated.[163]

Following World War II and the return to democracy, Austrian conservatives abandoned the authoritarianism of its past, believing in the principles of class collaboration and political compromise, while Austrian socialists also abandoned their extremism and distanced themselves from the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union.[164] The conservatives formed the Austrian People's Party, which has been the major conservative party in Austria ever since. In contemporary politics, the party was led by Sebastian Kurz, whom the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung nicknamed the "young Metternich".[165]


Having its roots in the conservative

Royal Question, supporting nuclear family as the cornerstone of society, defending Christian education, and opposing euthanasia. The Christian People's Party dominated politics in post-war Belgium. In 1999, the party's support collapsed, and it became the country's fifth-largest party.[166][167][168] Since 2014, the Flemish nationalist and conservative New Flemish Alliance is the largest party in Belgium.[169]


Danish conservatism emerged with the political grouping Højre (literally "Right"), which due to its alliance with King Christian IX of Denmark dominated Danish politics and formed all governments from 1865 to 1901. When a constitutional reform in 1915 stripped the landed gentry of political power, Højre was succeeded by the Conservative People's Party of Denmark, which has since then been the main Danish conservative party.[170] Another Danish conservative party was the Free Conservatives, who were active between 1902 and 1920. Traditionally and historically, conservatism in Denmark has been more populist and agrarian than in Sweden and Norway, where conservatism has been more elitist and urban.[171]

The Conservative People's Party led the government coalition from 1982 to 1993. The party had previously been member of various governments from 1916 to 1917, 1940 to 1945, 1950 to 1953, and 1968 to 1971. The party was a junior partner in governments led by the Liberals from 2001 to 2011[172] and again from 2016 to 2019. The party is preceded by 11 years by the Young Conservatives (KU), today the youth movement of the party.

The Conservative People's Party had a stable electoral support close to 15 to 20% at almost all general elections from 1918 to 1971. In the 1970s it declined to around 5%, but then under the leadership of Poul Schlüter reached its highest popularity level ever in 1984, receiving 23% of the votes. Since the late 1990s the party has obtained around 5 to 10% of the vote. In 2022, the party received 5.5% of the vote.[173]

Conservative thinking has also influenced other Danish political parties. In 1995, the Danish People's Party was founded, based on a mixture of conservative, nationalist, and social-democratic ideas.[170] In 2015, the party New Right was established, professing a national-conservative attitude.[174]

The conservative parties in Denmark have always considered the monarchy a central institution in Denmark.[175][176][177][178]


The conservative party in Finland is the National Coalition Party. The party was founded in 1918, when several monarchist parties united. Although right-wing in the past, today it is a moderate liberal-conservative party. While advocating economic liberalism, it is committed to the social market economy.[179]

There has been strong

Lapua movement continued to terrorise communists in post-war Finland, but it was banned after a failed coup d'etat attempt in 1932.[183]


Early conservatism in France focused on the rejection of the secularism of the French Revolution, support for the role of the Catholic Church, and the restoration of the monarchy.

After the

Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870. The Bourbon monarchist cause was on the verge of victory in the 1870s, but then collapsed because the proposed king, Henri, Count of Chambord, refused to fly the tri-coloured flag.[186] The turn of the century saw the rise of Action Française—an ultraconservative, reactionary, nationalist, and royalist movement that advocated a restoration of the monarchy.[187]

Religious tensions between Christian rightists and secular leftists heightened in the 1890–1910 era, but moderated after the spirit of unity in fighting World War I.[188] An authoritarian form of conservatism characterised the Vichy regime of 1940–1944 with heightened antisemitism, opposition to individualism, emphasis on family life, and national direction of the economy.[189]

Conservatism has been the major political force in France since World War II, although the number of conservative groups and their lack of stability defy simple categorization.[190] Following the war, conservatives supported Gaullist groups and parties, espoused nationalism, and emphasised tradition, social order, and the regeneration of France.[191] Unusually, post-war conservatism in France was formed around the personality of a leader—army general and aristocrat Charles de Gaulle who led the Free French Forces against Nazi Germany—and it did not draw on traditional French conservatism, but on the Bonapartist tradition.[192] Gaullism in France continues under The Republicans (formerly Union for a Popular Movement), a party previously led by Nicolas Sarkozy, who served as President of France from 2007 to 2012 and whose ideology is known as Sarkozysm.[193]

In 2021, the French intellectual Éric Zemmour founded the nationalist party Reconquête, which has been described as a more elitist and conservative version of Marine Le Pen's National Rally.[194]


Germany was the heart of the reactionary Romantic movement that swept Europe in the aftermath of the progressive Age of Enlightenment and its culmination in the anti-conservative French Revolution.[44] German Romanticism was deeply organicist and medievalist, finding expression philosophically among the Old Hegelians and judicially in the German historical school.[195] Prominent conservative exponents were Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis, Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder, Friedrich Carl von Savigny, and Adam Müller.[196]

During the second half of the 19th century, German conservatism developed alongside nationalism, culminating in Germany's victory over France in the Franco-Prussian War, the creation of the unified German Empire in 1871, and the simultaneous rise of Otto von Bismarck on the European political stage. Bismarck's "balance of power" model maintained peace in Europe for decades at the end of the 19th century.[197] His "revolutionary conservatism" was a conservative state-building strategy, based on class collaboration and designed to make ordinary Germans—not just the Junker aristocracy—more loyal to state and Emperor.[6] He created the modern welfare state in Germany in the 1880s.[198] According to scholars, his strategy was:

granting social rights to enhance the integration of a hierarchical society, to forge a bond between workers and the state so as to strengthen the latter, to maintain traditional relations of authority between social and status groups, and to provide a countervailing power against the modernist forces of liberalism and socialism.[199]

Bismarck also enacted universal manhood suffrage in the new German Empire in 1871.[200] He became a great hero to German conservatives, who erected many monuments to his memory after he left office in 1890.[201]

During the interwar period—after Germany's defeat in World War I, the abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II, and the introduction of parliamentary democracy—German conservatives experienced a cultural crisis and felt uprooted by a progressively modernist world.[202] This angst was expressed philosophically in the Conservative Revolution movement with prominent exponents such as historian Oswald Spengler, jurist Carl Schmitt, and author Ernst Jünger.[203] The major conservative party of this era was the reactionary German National People's Party, who advocated a restored monarchy.[204]

With the rise of Nazism in 1933, traditional agrarian movements faded and were supplanted by a more command-based economy and forced social integration. Adolf Hitler succeeded in garnering the support of many German industrialists; but prominent traditionalists, including military officers Claus von Stauffenberg and Henning von Tresckow, pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen, and monarchist Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, openly and secretly opposed his policies of euthanasia, genocide, and attacks on organised religion.[205] The former German Emperor Wilhelm II was highly critical of Hitler, writing in 1938:

There's a man alone, without family, without children, without God ... He builds legions, but he doesn't build a nation. A nation is created by families, a religion, traditions: it is made up out of the hearts of mothers, the wisdom of fathers, the joy and the exuberance of children ... This man could bring home victories to our people each year, without bringing them either glory or danger. But of our Germany, which was a nation of poets and musicians, of artists and soldiers, he has made a nation of hysterics and hermits, engulfed in a mob and led by a thousand liars or fanatics.[115]

Post-World War II Germany developed a special form of conservatism called ordoliberalism, which is centred around the concept of ordered liberty.[206] Neither socialist nor capitalist, it promotes a compromise between state and market, and argues that the national culture of a country must be taken into account when implementing economic policies.[207] Alexander Rüstow and Wilhelm Röpke were two prominent exponents of this economic theory, and its implementation is largely credited as a reason behind the German miracle—the rapid reconstruction and development of the war-wrecked economies of West Germany and Austria after World War II.[208]

More recently, the work of conservative Christian Democratic Union leader and Chancellor Helmut Kohl helped bring about German reunification, along with the closer European integration in the form of the Maastricht Treaty. Today, German conservatism is often associated with politicians such as Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose tenure was marked by attempts to save the common European currency (Euro) from demise. The German conservatives were divided under Merkel due to the refugee crisis in Germany, and many conservatives in the CDU/CSU opposed the immigration policies developed under Merkel.[209] The 2020s also saw the rise of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany.[210]


The main inter-war conservative party was called the

constitutional monarchy and opposed the republican Liberal Party. Both parties were suppressed by the authoritarian, arch-conservative, and royalist 4th of August Regime of Ioannis Metaxas in 1936–1941. The PP was able to re-group after World War II as part of a United Nationalist Front which achieved power campaigning on a simple anti-communist, nationalist platform during the Greek Civil War
in 1946–1949. However, the vote received by the PP declined during the so-called "Centrist Interlude" in 1950–1952.

In 1952, Marshal Alexandros Papagos created the Greek Rally as an umbrella for the right-wing forces. The Greek Rally came to power in 1952 and remained the leading party in Greece until 1963. After Papagos' death in 1955, it was reformed as the National Radical Union under Konstantinos Karamanlis. Right-wing governments backed by the palace and the army overthrew the Centre Union government in 1965 and governed the country until the establishment of the far-right Greek junta (1967–1974). After the regime's collapse in August 1974, Karamanlis returned from exile to lead the government and founded the New Democracy party. The new conservative party had four objectives: to confront Turkish expansionism in Cyprus, to reestablish and solidify democratic rule, to give the country a strong government, and to make a powerful moderate party a force in Greek politics.[211]


Greek people, and the Greek Orthodox Church.[212]


The dominance of the political right of

inter-war Hungary, after the collapse of a short-lived communist regime, was described by historian István Deák

Between 1919 and 1944 Hungary was a rightist country. Forged out of a counter-revolutionary heritage, its governments advocated a "nationalist Christian" policy; they extolled heroism, faith, and unity; they despised the French Revolution, and they spurned the liberal and socialist ideologies of the 19th century. The governments saw Hungary as a bulwark against bolshevism and bolshevism's instruments: socialism, cosmopolitanism, and Freemasonry. They perpetrated the rule of a small clique of aristocrats, civil servants, and army officers, and surrounded with adulation the head of the state, the counterrevolutionary Admiral Horthy.[213]

Horthy's authoritarian conservative regime suppressed communists and fascists alike, banning the Hungarian Communist Party as well as the fascist Arrow Cross Party. The fascist leader Ferenc Szálasi was repeatedly imprisoned at Horthy's command.[106]


Founded in 1924 as the Conservative Party, Iceland's Independence Party adopted its current name in 1929 after the merger with the Liberal Party. From the beginning, they have been the largest vote-winning party, averaging around 40%. They combined liberalism and conservatism, supported nationalization of infrastructure, and advocated class collaboration. While mostly in opposition during the 1930s, they embraced economic liberalism, but accepted the welfare state after the war and participated in governments supportive of state intervention and protectionism. Unlike other Scandanivian conservative (and liberal) parties, it has always had a large working-class following.[214] After the financial crisis in 2008, the support level has dropped to 20–25%.


Conservatism in Ireland is mostly based around

opposition to abortion


After unification, Italy was governed successively by the Historical Right, which represented conservative, liberal-conservative, and conservative-liberal positions, and the Historical Left.

After World War I, the country saw the emergence of its first mass parties, notably including the Italian People's Party (PPI), a Christian-democratic party that sought to represent the Catholic majority, which had long refrained from politics. The PPI and the Italian Socialist Party decisively contributed to the loss of strength and authority of the old liberal ruling class, which had not been able to structure itself into a proper party: the Liberal Union was not coherent and the Italian Liberal Party came too late.

In 1921,

Victor Emmanuel III. Fascism originated as a populist, revolutionary, anti-royalist, anti-clerical, and anti-conservative ideology,[215] viewed by many socialists as a leftist heresy rather than a rightist opponent; but it transformed and became distinctly right-wing when it made compromises with the conservative establishment in order to consolidate authority and suppress communist movements.[216][217] Mussolini commented on the dynamic pragmatism of fascism: "We would like to be aristocrats and democrats, conservatives and liberals, reactionaries and revolutionaries, legalists and illegalists, depending on the circumstances of time, place and environment." In 1926, all parties were dissolved except the PNF, which remained the only legal party in the Kingdom of Italy until the fall of the regime in July 1943. By 1945, fascists were discredited, disbanded, and outlawed, while Mussolini was executed in April that year.[218]

In 1946, a referendum was held concerning the fate of the monarchy. While southern Italy and parts of northern Italy were royalist, other parts, especially in central Italy, were predominantly republican. The outcome was 54–46% in favour of a republic, leading to a collapse of the monarchy.[219]

After World War II, the centre-right was dominated by the centrist party Christian Democracy (DC), which included both conservative and centre-left elements. With its landslide victory over the Italian Socialist Party and the Italian Communist Party in 1948, the political centre was in power. In Denis Mack Smith's words, it was "moderately conservative, reasonably tolerant of everything which did not touch religion or property, but above all Catholic and sometimes clerical". It dominated politics until DC's dissolution in 1994.[220][221] Among DC's frequent allies, there was the conservative-liberal Italian Liberal Party. At the right of the DC stood parties like the royalist Monarchist National Party and the post-fascist Italian Social Movement.

In 1994, entrepreneur and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi founded the liberal-conservative party Forza Italia (FI). He won three elections in 1994, 2001, and 2008, governing the country for almost ten years as prime minister. FI formed a coalitions with several parties, including the national-conservative National Alliance (AN), heir of the MSI, and the regionalist Lega Nord (LN). FI was briefly incorporated, along with AN, in The People of Freedom party and later revived in the new Forza Italia.[222] After the 2018 general election, the LN and the Five Star Movement formed a populist government, which lasted about a year.[223] In the 2022 general election, a centre-right coalition came to power, this time dominated by Brothers of Italy (FdI), a new national-conservative party born on the ashes of AN. Consequently, FdI, the re-branded Lega, and FI formed a government under FdI leader Giorgia Meloni.


Luxembourg's major conservative party, the Christian Social People's Party, was formed as the Party of the Right in 1914 and adopted its present name in 1945. It was consistently the largest political party in Luxembourg and dominated politics throughout the 20th century.[224]


Liberalism has been strong in the Netherlands. Therefore, rightist parties are often liberal-conservative or conservative-liberal. One example is the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. Even the right-wing populist and far-right Party for Freedom, which dominated the 2023 election, supports liberal positions such as gay rights, abortion, and euthanasia.[225]


The Conservative Party of Norway (Norwegian: Høyre, literally "Right") was formed by the old upper-class of state officials and wealthy merchants to fight the populist democracy of the Liberal Party, but it lost power in 1884, when parliamentarian government was first practiced. It formed its first government under parliamentarism in 1889 and continued to alternate in power with the Liberals until the 1930s, when Labour became the dominant party. It has elements both of paternalism, stressing the responsibilities of the state, and of economic liberalism. It first returned to power in the 1960s.[226] During Kåre Willoch's premiership in the 1980s, much emphasis was laid on liberalizing the credit and housing market and abolishing the NRK TV and radio monopoly, while supporting law and order in criminal justice and traditional norms in education.[227]


The dominant conservative party in Poland is Law and Justice (PiS), though there exist many smaller conservative parties, most notably Sovereign Poland. Polish conservatism is characterised by social and cultural conservatism, patriotism, adherence to Catholic social teaching, and cooperation with the Catholic Church.[228] Contemporary Polish conservatives believe in Atlanticism and strong relations with the United States, meanwhile taking a stand against Russia.[229]

PiS has taken a populist and statist approach to economics, expanding regulations, state control over industries and media, greatly expanding social welfare and applying

Keynesian-esque "anti-crisis shields",[228] differentiating itself from previous conservative political parties and movements like AWS or Endecja[230] which believed in economic liberalism. Another difference to AWS is PiS' euroscepticism.[228] Though not opposing European Union membership, PiS pursues an assertive policy of conflict with the European Commission,[229] which, in reaction, took a hostile stance against PiS. In the European Parliament, PiS belongs to the European Conservatives and Reformists group. Liberal media in Poland is vehemently biased against PiS and opposed to its rule, often calling it authoritarian.[228] Liberal scholar Antoni Dudek rejects giving PiS the authoritarian label, suggesting that PiS rejects the ideals of liberal democracy and instead embraces a "national democratic" or illiberal democratic form of governance.[228]

In the preceding

Stanisław Cat-Mackiewicz, found themselves as allies of Marshal Piłsudski.[230]


Russian conservatism has experienced a revival in recent decades.

economic intervention, combined with a strong nationalist sentiment and social conservatism which is largely populist. As a result, Russian conservatism opposes right-libertarian
ideals such as the aforementioned concept of economic liberalism found in other conservative movements around the world.

Putin has also promoted new think tanks that bring together like-minded intellectuals and writers. For example, the Izborsky Club, founded in 2012 by Alexander Prokhanov, stresses Russian nationalism, the restoration of Russia's historical greatness, and systematic opposition to liberal ideas and policies.[234] Vladislav Surkov, a senior government official, has been one of the key ideologues during Putin's presidency.[235]

In cultural and social affairs, Putin has collaborated closely with the Russian Orthodox Church.[236][237] Under Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the Church has backed the expansion of Russian power into Crimea and eastern Ukraine.[238] More broadly, The New York Times reports in September 2016 how the Church's policy prescriptions support the Kremlin's appeal to social conservatives:

A fervent foe of homosexuality and any attempt to put individual rights above those of family, community, or nation, the Russian Orthodox Church helps project Russia as the natural ally of all those who pine for a more secure, illiberal world free from the tradition-crushing rush of globalization, multiculturalism, and women's and gay rights.[239]


In the early 19th century, Swedish conservatism developed alongside Swedish Romanticism. The historian Erik Gustaf Geijer, an exponent of Gothicism, glorified the Viking Age and the Swedish Empire,[240] and the idealist philosopher Christopher Jacob Boström became the chief ideologue of the official state doctrine, which dominated Swedish politics for almost a century.[241] Other influential Swedish conservative Romantics were Esaias Tegnér and Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom.

Early parliamentary conservatism in Sweden was explicitly elitist. Indeed, the

death penalty.[242]

Once a democratic system was in place, Swedish conservatives sought to combine traditional elitism with modern populism. Sweden's most renowned political scientist, the conservative politician Rudolf Kjellén, coined the terms geopolitics and biopolitics in relation to his organic theory of the state.[243] He also developed the corporatist-nationalist concept of Folkhemmet ('the people’s home'), which became the single most powerful political concept in Sweden throughout the 20th century, although it was adopted by the Social Democratic Party who gave it a more socialist interpretation.[244]

After a brief grand coalition between Left and Right during World War II, the centre-right parties struggled to cooperate due to their ideological differences: the agrarian populism of the Centre Party, the urban liberalism of the Liberal People's Party, and the liberal-conservative elitism of the Moderate Party (the old Conservative Party). However, in 1976 and in 1979, the three parties managed to form a government under Thorbjörn Fälldin—and again in 1991, this time under aristocrat Carl Bildt and with support from the newly founded Christian Democrats, the most conservative party in contemporary Sweden.[245]

In modern times,

mass immigration from distant cultures caused a large populist dissatisfaction, which was not channeled through any of the established parties, who generally espoused multiculturalism.[246] Instead, the 2010s saw the rise of the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats, who were surging as the largest party in the polls on several occasions.[247][248] Due to its fascist roots, the party was ostracised by the other parties until 2019 when Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch reached out for collaboration, after which the Moderate Party followed suit.[249] In 2022, the centre-right parties formed a government with support from the Sweden Democrats as the largest party.[250] The subsequent Tidö Agreement, negotiated in Tidö Castle, incorporated authoritarian policies such as a stricter stance on immigration and a harsher stance on law and order.[251]


In some aspects, Swiss conservatism is unique, as Switzerland is an old federal republic born from historically sovereign cantons, comprising three major nationalities and adhering to the principle of Swiss neutrality.

There are a number of conservative parties in Switzerland's parliament, the Federal Assembly. These include the largest ones: the Swiss People's Party (SVP),[252] the Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP),[253] and the Conservative Democratic Party of Switzerland (BDP),[254] which is a splinter of the SVP created in the aftermath to the election of Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf as Federal Council.[254]

The SVP was formed from the 1971 merger of the Party of Farmers, Traders and Citizens, formed in 1917, and the smaller Democratic Party, formed in 1942. The SVP emphasised agricultural policy and was strong among farmers in German-speaking Protestant areas. As Switzerland considered closer relations with the European Union in the 1990s, the SVP adopted a more militant protectionist and isolationist stance. This stance has allowed it to expand into German-speaking Catholic mountainous areas.[255] The Anti-Defamation League, a non-Swiss lobby group based in the United States has accused them of manipulating issues such as immigration, Swiss neutrality, and welfare benefits, awakening antisemitism and racism.[256] The Council of Europe has called the SVP "extreme right", although some scholars dispute this classification. For instance, Hans-Georg Betz describes it as "populist radical right".[257] The SVP has been the largest party since 2003.


The authoritarian

Hetman government, which appealed to the tradition of the 17th–18th century Cossack Hetman state, represented the conservative strand in Ukraine's struggle for independence. It had the support of the proprietary classes and of conservative and moderate political groups. Vyacheslav Lypynsky was a main ideologue of Ukrainian conservatism.[258]

United Kingdom

Modern English conservatives celebrate Anglo-Irish statesman Edmund Burke as their intellectual father. Burke was affiliated with the Whig Party, which eventually split amongst the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, but the modern Conservative Party is generally thought to derive primarily from the Tories, and the MPs of the modern conservative party are still frequently referred to as Tories.[259]

Shortly after Burke's death in 1797, conservatism was revived as a mainstream political force as the Whigs suffered a series of internal divisions. This new generation of conservatives derived their politics not from Burke, but from his predecessor, the Viscount Bolingbroke (1678–1751), who was a Jacobite and traditional Tory, lacking Burke's sympathies for Whiggish policies such as Catholic emancipation and American independence (famously attacked by Samuel Johnson in "Taxation No Tyranny").[259]

In the first half of the 19th century, many newspapers, magazines, and journals promoted

Methodist and Unitarian spokesmen. Anchoring the ultra-Tories, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine stood firmly against Catholic emancipation and favoured slavery, cheap money, mercantilism, the Navigation Acts, and the Holy Alliance.[259]

Conservatism evolved after 1820, embracing

monarchy, and a more generous vision of the welfare state as opposed to the punitive vision of the Whigs and liberals.[260] As early as 1835, Disraeli attacked the Whigs and utilitarians as slavishly devoted to an industrial oligarchy, while he described his fellow Tories as the only "really democratic party of England", devoted to the interests of the whole people.[261] Nevertheless, inside the party there was a tension between the growing numbers of wealthy businessmen on the one side and the aristocracy and rural gentry on the other.[262]
The aristocracy gained strength as businessmen discovered they could use their wealth to buy a peerage and a country estate.

Some conservatives lamented the passing of a pastoral world where the ethos of

Tory democracy.[265] However, since Burke, there has always been tension between traditional aristocratic conservatism and the wealthy liberal business class.[266]

In 1834, Tory

. Despite the split, the mainstream Conservative Party accepted the doctrine of free trade in 1852.

In the second half of the 19th century, the Liberal Party faced political schisms, especially over Irish Home Rule. Leader William Gladstone (himself a former Peelite) sought to give Ireland a degree of autonomy, a move that elements in both the left and right-wings of his party opposed. These split off to become the Liberal Unionists (led by Joseph Chamberlain), forming a coalition with the Conservatives before merging with them in 1912. The Liberal Unionist influence dragged the Conservative Party towards the left as Conservative governments passed a number of progressive reforms at the turn of the 20th century. By the late 19th century, the traditional business supporters of the Liberal Party had joined the Conservatives, making them the party of business and commerce as well.

After a period of Liberal dominance before World War I, the Conservatives gradually became more influential in government, regaining full control of the cabinet in 1922. In the inter-war period, conservatism was the major ideology in Britain[267][268][269] as the Liberal Party vied with the Labour Party for control of the left. After World War II, the first Labour government (1945–1951) under Clement Attlee embarked on a program of nationalization of industry and the promotion of social welfare. The Conservatives generally accepted those policies until the 1980s.

In the 1980s, the Conservative government of

United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP, founded in 1993), began to appear, although they have yet to make any significant impact at Westminster. As of 2014, the DUP is the largest political party in the ruling coalition in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and from 2017 to 2019 the DUP provided support for the Conservative minority government
under a confidence-and-supply arrangement.

Latin America

Conservative elites have long dominated Latin American nations. Mostly, this has been achieved through control of civil institutions, the Catholic Church, and the military, rather than through party politics. Typically, the Church was exempt from taxes and its employees immune from civil prosecution. Where conservative parties were weak or non-existent, conservatives were more likely to rely on military dictatorship as a preferred form of government.[271]

However, in some nations where the elites were able to mobilise popular support for conservative parties, longer periods of political stability were achieved. Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela are examples of nations that developed strong conservative parties. Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, and Peru are examples of nations where this did not occur.[272]

Louis Hartz explained conservatism in Latin American nations as a result of their settlement as feudal societies.[273]


Conservatism in Brazil originates from the cultural and historical tradition of Brazil, whose cultural roots are

Roman Catholic.[274] More traditional conservative historical views and features include belief in political federalism and monarchism

The military dictatorship in Brazil was established on April 1, 1964, after a coup d'état by the Brazilian Army with support from the United States government, and it lasted for 21 years, until March 15, 1985. The coup received support from almost all high-ranking members of the military along with conservative sectors in society, such as the Catholic Church and anti-communist civilian movements among the Brazilian middle and upper classes. The dictatorship reached the height of its popularity in the 1970s with the so-called Brazilian Miracle. Brazil's military government provided a model for other military regimes throughout Latin America, being systematised by the "National Security Doctrine", which was used to justify the military's actions as operating in the interest of national security in a time of crisis.[275]

In contemporary politics, a

2018 Brazilian presidential election.[277]


Chile's conservative party, the

Chile's economy was placed under the control of a group of economists known collectively as the Chicago Boys, whose liberalising policies have been described as neoliberal.[280]


The Colombian Conservative Party, founded in 1849, traces its origins to opponents of General Francisco de Paula Santander's 1833–1837 administration. While the term "liberal" had been used to describe all political forces in Colombia, the conservatives began describing themselves as "conservative liberals" and their opponents as "red liberals". From the 1860s until the present, the party has supported strong central government and the Catholic Church, especially its role as protector of the sanctity of the family, and opposed separation of church and state. Its policies include the legal equality of all men, the citizen's right to own property, and opposition to dictatorship. It has usually been Colombia's second largest party, with the Colombian Liberal Party being the largest.[281]

North America


Canada's conservatives had their roots in the Tory

ultramontane Catholic hierarchy of Quebec and to keep them united in a conservative coalition.[283]

The conservatives combined

Toryism. They generally supported an activist government and state intervention in the marketplace, and their policies were marked by noblesse oblige, a paternalistic responsibility of the elites for the less well-off.[284] The party was known as the Progressive Conservatives from 1942 until 2003, when the party merged with the Canadian Alliance to form the Conservative Party of Canada.[285]

The conservative and autonomist Union Nationale, led by Maurice Duplessis, governed the province of Quebec in periods from 1936 to 1960 and in a close alliance with the Catholic Church, small rural elites, farmers, and business elites. This period, known by liberals as the Great Darkness, ended with the Quiet Revolution and the party went into terminal decline.[286]

By the end of the 1960s, the political debate in Quebec centred around the question of independence, opposing the social democratic and sovereignist Parti Québécois and the centrist and federalist Quebec Liberal Party, therefore marginalizing the conservative movement. Most French Canadian conservatives rallied either the Quebec Liberal Party or the Parti Québécois, while some of them still tried to offer an autonomist third-way with what was left of the Union Nationale or the more populists Ralliement créditiste du Québec and Parti national populaire, but by the 1981 provincial election politically organised conservatism had been obliterated in Quebec. It slowly started to revive at the 1994 provincial election with the Action démocratique du Québec, who served as Official opposition in the National Assembly from 2007 to 2008, before merging in 2012 with François Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec, which took power in 2018. The modern Conservative Party of Canada has rebranded conservatism and, under the leadership of Stephen Harper, added more conservative policies.

Yoram Hazony, a scholar on the history and ideology of conservatism, identified Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson as the most significant conservative thinker to appear in the English-speaking world in a generation.[287]

United States

The meaning of conservatism in the United States is different from the way the word is used elsewhere. As historian Leo P. Ribuffo notes, "what Americans now call conservatism much of the world calls liberalism or neoliberalism".[67] However, the prominent American conservative writer Russell Kirk argued, in his influential work The Conservative Mind (1953), that conservatism had been brought to the United States and he interpreted the American Revolution as a "conservative revolution" against royal innovation.[288]

American conservatism is a broad system of political beliefs in the United States, which is characterized by respect for American traditions, support for Judeo-Christian values, economic liberalism, anti-communism, and a defense of Western culture. Liberty within the bounds of conformity to conservatism is a core value, with a particular emphasis on strengthening the free market, limiting the size and scope of government, and opposing high taxes as well as government or labor union encroachment on the entrepreneur.

In the United States,

agorist philosopher Samuel Edward Konkin III labeled this ideology right-libertarianism,[289] while Frank Meyer coined the term fusionism to describe this ideological hybrid.[290] Some scholars, such as conservative philosopher Russell Kirk, have highlighted the contrasts between the two ideologies: "What else do conservatives and libertarians profess in common? The answer to that question is simple: nothing. Nor will they ever. To talk of forming a league or coalition between these two is like advocating a union of ice and fire."[291] Libertarian activist Jerome Tuccille wrote: "Libertarianism is basically Aristotelian (reason, objectivity, individual self-sufficiency) while conservatism is just fundamentally Platonic (privileged elitism, mysticism, collective order)."[292]

The 1830s

Northern Democrats, who tended to support the abolition of slavery, union, and equality.[293] Many Democrats were conservative in the sense that they wanted things to be like they were in the past, especially as far as race was concerned. They generally favored poorer farmers and urban workers, and were hostile to banks, industrialization, and high tariffs.[294]

The post-Civil War

Conservative Coalition, which successfully put an end to Blacks being elected to national political office until 1967, when Edward Brooke was elected Senator from Massachusetts.[295][296] Conservative Democrats influenced US politics until 1994's Republican Revolution
, as the American South shifted from solid Democrat to solid Republican, while maintaining its conservative values.

In late 19th century, the

bimetalism, money backed by both gold and silver. The conservative wing nominated Alton B. Parker in 1904, but he got very few votes.[297][298]

The major conservative party in the United States today is the Republican Party, also known as the GOP (Grand Old Party). Modern American conservatives often consider

Paleoconservatives oppose multiculturalism and press for restrictions on immigration.[304]
Most US conservatives prefer Republicans over Democrats, and most factions favor a strong foreign policy and a strong military.

The conservative movement of the 1950s attempted to bring together the divergent conservative strands, stressing the need for unity to prevent the spread of "godless communism", which Reagan later labeled an "

Reagan administration, conservatives also supported the so-called Reagan Doctrine, under which the US as part of a Cold War strategy provided military and other support to guerrilla insurgencies that were fighting governments identified as socialist or communist. The Reagan administration also adopted neoliberalism and Reaganomics (pejoratively referred to as trickle-down economics), resulting in the 1980s economic growth and trillion-dollar deficits. Other modern conservative positions include anti-environmentalism.[307] On average, American conservatives desire tougher foreign policies than liberals do.[308]

The Tea Party movement, founded in 2009, proved a large outlet for populist American conservative ideas. Their stated goals included rigorous adherence to the US constitution, lower taxes, and opposition to a growing role for the federal government in health care. Electorally, it was considered a key force in Republicans reclaiming control of the US House of Representatives in 2010.[309][310]



The Liberal Party of Australia adheres to the principles of social conservatism and liberal conservatism.[311] It is liberal in the sense of economics. Commentators explain: "In America, 'liberal' means left-of-center, and it is a pejorative term when used by conservatives in adversarial political debate. In Australia, of course, the conservatives are in the Liberal Party."[312] The National Right is the most organised and reactionary of the three factions within the party.[313]

Other conservative parties are the


The largest party in the country is the

socially conservative
element. Australia undertook significant economic reform under the Labor Party in the mid-1980s. Consequently, issues like protectionism, welfare reform, privatization, and deregulation are no longer debated in the political space as they are in Europe or North America.

Political scientist James Jupp writes that "[the] decline in English influences on Australian reformism and radicalism, and appropriation of the symbols of Empire by conservatives continued under the Liberal Party leadership of Sir Robert Menzies, which lasted until 1966".[314]

New Zealand

Historic conservatism in New Zealand traces its roots to the unorganised conservative opposition to the New Zealand Liberal Party in the late 19th century. In 1909 this ideological strand found a more organised expression in the Reform Party, a forerunner to the contemporary New Zealand National Party, which absorbed historic conservative elements.[315] The National Party, established in 1936, embodies a spectrum of tendencies, including conservative and liberal. Throughout its history, the party has oscillated between periods of conservative emphasis and liberal reform. Its stated values include "individual freedom and choice" and "limited government".[316]

In the 1980s and 1990s both the National Party and its main opposing party, the traditionally left-wing Labour Party, implemented free-market reforms.[317]

The New Zealand First party, which split from the National Party in 1993, espouses nationalist and conservative principles.[318]



The Big Five personality model has applications in the study of political psychology. It has been found by several studies that individuals who score high in Conscientiousness (the quality of working hard and being careful) are more likely to possess a right-wing political identification.[319][320][321] Since conscientiousness is positively related to job performance,[322][323] a 2021 study found that conservative service workers earn higher ratings, evaluations, and tips than social liberal ones.[324]

Disgust sensitivity

A number of studies have found that

Research in the field of

out-groups. A proposed reason for this phenomenon is that people begin to associate outsiders with disease while associating health with people similar to themselves.[329]

The higher one's disgust sensitivity is, the greater the tendency to make more conservative moral judgments. Disgust sensitivity is associated with moral hypervigilance, which means that people who have higher disgust sensitivity are more likely to think that suspects of a crime are guilty. They also tend to view them as evil, if found guilty, and endorse harsher punishment in the setting of a court.[330]



right-wing authoritarian personality (RWA) is a personality type that describes somebody who is highly submissive to their authority figures, acts aggressively in the name of said authorities, and is conformist in thought and behaviour.[331] According to psychologist Bob Altemeyer, individuals who are politically conservative tend to rank high in RWA.[332] This finding was echoed by Theodor W. Adorno in The Authoritarian Personality (1950) based on the F-scale
personality test.

A study done on Israeli and Palestinian students in Israel found that RWA scores of right-wing party supporters were significantly higher than those of left-wing party supporters.[333] However, a 2005 study by H. Michael Crowson and colleagues suggested a moderate gap between RWA and other conservative positions, stating that their "results indicated that conservatism is not synonymous with RWA".[334]

According to political scientist Karen Stenner, who specialises in authoritarianism, conservatives will embrace diversity and civil liberties to the extent that they are institutionalised traditions in the social order, but they tend to be drawn to authoritarianism when public opinion is fractious and there is a loss of confidence in public institutions.[335]

Ambiguity intolerance

In 1973, British psychologist

cognitive closure, contribute to the degree of one's political conservatism and its manifestations in decision-making.[337][338] A study by Kathleen Maclay stated that these traits "might be associated with such generally valued characteristics as personal commitment and unwavering loyalty". The research also suggested that while most people are resistant to change, social liberals are more tolerant of it.[339]

Social dominance orientation

in-group be superior to out-groups. Psychologist Felicia Pratto and her colleagues have found evidence to support the claim that a high SDO is strongly correlated with conservative views and opposition to social engineering to promote equality.[340] Pratto and her colleagues also found that high SDO scores were highly correlated with measures of prejudice.[341]

However, David J. Schneider argued for a more complex relationships between the three factors, writing that "correlations between prejudice and political conservatism are reduced virtually to zero when controls for SDO are instituted, suggesting that the conservatism–prejudice link is caused by SDO".[342] Conservative political theorist Kenneth Minogue criticised Pratto's work, saying:

It is characteristic of the conservative temperament to value established identities, to praise habit and to respect prejudice, not because it is irrational, but because such things anchor the darting impulses of human beings in solidities of custom which we do not often begin to value until we are already losing them. Radicalism often generates youth movements, while conservatism is a condition found among the mature, who have discovered what it is in life they most value.[343]

A 1996 study by Pratto and her colleagues examined the topic of racism. Contrary to what these theorists predicted, correlations between conservatism and racism were strongest among the most educated individuals, and weakest among the least educated. They also found that the correlation between racism and conservatism could be accounted for by their mutual relationship with SDO.[344]


In his book Gross National Happiness (2008), Arthur C. Brooks presents the finding that conservatives are roughly twice as happy as social liberals.[345] A 2008 study suggested that conservatives tend to be happier than social liberals because of their tendency to justify the current state of affairs and to remain unbothered by inequalities in society.[346] A 2012 study disputed this hypothesis, demonstrating that conservatives expressed greater personal agency (e.g., personal control, responsibility), more positive outlook (e.g., optimism, self-worth), and more transcendent moral beliefs (e.g., greater religiosity, greater moral clarity).[347]

Prominent statesmen

Prominent intellectuals

See also

National variants

Ideological variants

Related topics



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