What is conservative?

The return of conservatism in Europe? Self-reflections and new perspectives

Conservative is a mixed blessing when used for political self-identification. In some countries „conservative“ features in the official party name and has been employed successfully for many decades like in the United Kingdom or in some of the Nordic countries. In other settings the term rather serves to attack and discredit the political opponent.

Some of the attempts to fill the idea of Conservatism with political content have ended rather painfully. In Germany inner party opponents to Chancellor Merkel linked conservatism to the reintroduction of either nuclear energy or a conscripts army. Whatever the precise merits of those might be, both proposals linked conservatism to the reintroduction of a past that had been shelved and overcome.

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