The culture war in Europe and North America pits cosmopolitan, college-educated, urban voters with liberal views against inward-looking, often lower-information voters in small towns and the countryside who resist change.
The first round of the French presidential election on Sunday laid bare many of the same cleavages that have opened up in other Western democracies recently.
Emmanuel Macron, the centrist former economy minister and the favorite to prevail in the second voting round in May, drew most of his support from the big cities and the prosperous west of the country.
Three of the top four contenders in the French presidential election on Sunday come from outside the country’s two major political parties. The Socialists’ Benoît Hamon isn’t even in contention anymore while the Republicans’ François Fillon may not qualify for the runoff in May.
The frontrunner, Emmanuel Macron, left the Socialist Party last year to start his own progressive movement.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen lead the far left and the far right, respectively, which have so far played a minor role in French politics.
A debate on Sunday between the top female candidates of the five biggest political parties in the Netherlands revealed that the old left-right divide is giving way to something new.
The center-right liberals and the far-left Socialists are polar opposites in terms of foreign and security policy. Yet they found themselves on the same side when the Christian Democrats proposed to criminalize the glorification of violence.
The liberal party’s number two and incumbent defense minister, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, cautioned that such a step — targeted at jihadist propaganda — could lead a thought police.
The Socialists don’t have much in common either with the nationalist Freedom Party, except their candidates both rejected as “fearmongering” warnings from the other parties that an exit from the European Union would surely destroy Dutch jobs.
The Socialists’ economic program has little in common with the liberal Democrats’, yet the two parties chastised the Christian Democrats, Freedom Party and liberals for suggesting that immigrants who refuse to accept Dutch values, like gay and women’s rights, ought to go back to where they came from. Read more “Parties Take Sides in Netherlands’ Culture War”
Italy’s Democratic Party leader, Matteo Renzi, launched his candidacy for reelection this week by presenting himself as the alternative to nationalist leaders in his own country as well as America and France.
“Some people wanted a party congress to find an alternative to Renzi-ism. It needs to be done as an alternative to Trumpism, Le Penism and even Grilloism,” the former prime minister said, referring to the new president of the United States, the leader of France’s National Front and the founder of Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement. Read more “Renzi Picks Side in Italy’s Blue-Red Culture War”
Last month, I argued here that the election of Donald Trump in America and the vote to leave the EU in Britain could be understood as rural revolts against “the city”. This is a subplot in the story of the cosmopolitan-communitarian culture war that is shaping up to be the defining political divide of our time.
I focused on the electoral politics of city versus countryside at the time and sort of skipped the question of why exactly there is so much discontent in the former.
Jonn Elledge answers that question in Britain’s New Statesman.
Die Presse, Austria’s center-right newspaper, reports that many of the cleavages of what the Atlantic Sentinel calls Europe’s blue-red culture war appeared in the Alpine nation’s presidential election on Sunday.
Norbert Hofer, the nationalist Freedom Party candidate, was more popular with men and workers without a college education. Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Green party leader who rallied the Austrian mainstream behind his candidacy, received more votes from women and college graduates.
Similar divides came to light in the American presidential election last month, although there the outcome was reversed: Donald Trump, Norbert’s Republican counterpart, defeated Hillary Clinton, a center-left pragmatists not unlike Van der Bellen.