The politics of thirds


One of my daughters bought me a subscription to The Economist. It is a fascinating mixture of articles about money and politics. As if the two are separate! I am enjoying reading it and look forward to the magazine landing on my doormat every week.

What I have found most interesting is the stories of governments and oppositions. The world seems to be a broken place with interest group set against interest group, while power swings from one side of the pendulum to another. We operate in a global political system where nobody is ever satisfied.

I don’t like the term left and right in politics as I find that very few people fit into these simplistic categories. Nearly everyone leans to the right on some issues and to the left on others. Take any issue and you will have a bell curve of opinion. There will be some at either extreme but the majority of people will be somewhere in the middle.

Party politics however does not address the middle. However much they say it does, it instead encourages us to think of being on one side or the other. In nearly every election, or political issue I read about around a third of the voters are for it, around a third are against it and around a third have not voted either way.

In this way, party politics leads us to being governed by thirds. The majority never fully supports those in power. It is a sum that does not add up and encourages a political pull towards the extremities rather than the middle.

What the people want, though they may not believe it, is a system that truly represents the majority. This requires politics of consensus and compromise, not partisanship and division.

The party system is the problem.

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