Financial TimesFinancial Times

How the right tore themselves apart

By Simon Kuper

12 Jan 2023 · 3 min read

Editor's Note

Center-right parties across the western world face a dilemma: Stick with chaotic far-right partners or face the prospect of losing elections on their own. The FT's Simon Kuper asks how they got here.

When US Republicans spent four days fighting each other over choosing a Speaker for the House of Representatives, even as skilled a fabulist as the newly elected Congressman George Santos was overheard muttering: “You can’t make this crap up.”

What happened in the House is simply a dramatisation of what’s happening to rightwing parties across the west. They are being torn apart between two opposing right wings. In most countries it’s the mainstream right against the far right, and in the US the far right against the very far right, but everywhere rightist coalitions are crumbling. Across the five biggest western European countries, the seven biggest in Latin America, and the US, Canada and Australia, only one traditional centre-right party runs a government: the British Conservatives, who expect electoral decimation next year. For all the reports of the supposed death of social democratic parties, the centre-left is winning.

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