Wednesday, September 17, 2014
7

中间道路不可行

华盛顿—在大部分发达民主国家,都是一个中右翼大党和一个中左翼大党在竞争。当然,选举制度有利于大党的程度——通过议会普选高门槛,或通过选区赢者通吃制——影响着政治碎片化的程度。但是,总的来说,发达民主国家的特征是中左翼大党和中右翼大党竞争。那么,像意大利广受尊进的技术官僚型总理蒙蒂这样的真正中间派能做些什么呢?

诚然,宗教和血统忠诚度在欧洲某些地方(如苏格兰、比利时和加泰罗尼亚)具有极重要的作用,但这些因素在新兴国家更加重要,那里的政治分裂局面也反映了各自的后殖民时代环境,并且通常属于一党执政的遗留问题。尽管如此,即使是智利、墨西哥、韩国和印度这样的“新兴市场”民主国家,左右对立也扮演着重要角色,而宣布走中间道路的政客往往结果不佳。

比如,英国自由民主党几十年来都在寻求成为强大的中间派第三大当,但从未成功。尽管美国的政治观念有所不同,但民主党自富兰克林·罗斯福以来便是事实上的中左派,而共和党代表右翼,此外再无第三个主要党派出现。

法国和德国的情况更加复杂。政坛主导者仍是中左翼大党和中右翼大党各一,但小党派——走中间道路者有之,走极右和极左道路者亦有之——能够形成不同程度的挑战。在一些国家,“绿党”有着自己的身份,与左派关系密切;但是,尽管绿党在德国进步明显,他们仍无法撼动中右翼和中左翼大党在选举中的地位。

西班牙、葡萄牙、希腊、土耳其和北欧国家都存在各自不同的这一基本结构。意大利的情况特别有意思,决定参加即将到来的大选的蒙蒂不得不将自己定位为右翼(他参加了欧洲中右翼党派领袖的聚会,以此可知他的立场)。他和前总理贝卢斯科尼现在正在争夺右翼空间,而在民调中领先的是中左翼民主党。

就社会和经济挑战观点而言,中右翼和中左翼至少有四个不同点。右翼对市场配置资源和提供合适激励的能力抱有更大信心;他们支持私人消费甚于公共品;他们不太担心经济不平等;对于国际合作,他们更倾向于民主主义,更少乐观主义。

相反,左翼认为市场,特别是金融市场,需要政府的大规模监管和监督才能良好运转;他们更重视公共品(比如公园、清洁的环境和公交系统);他们寻求降低经济不平等程度,认为不平等性破坏民主和对福祉至关重要的公正感;他们更愿意追求国际合作,将它视为确保和平、提供全球公共品(如气候保护)的方法。

在回顾几十年来的实际经济政策演化时,我们看到它们总是结合了中右翼和中左翼的元素。金融危机的反复发生让右翼对不受管制的市场的信念也有所动摇,而左翼对国家计划和官僚主义程序变得更加现实和谨慎。类似地,私人消费和公共消费“商品”之间的选择通常也是模糊的,政客总是强化公民要求公共品同时又拒绝为此纳税的倾向(这一倾向倒是不难理解)。

随着收入不平等性的加剧——某些国家收入不平等性在急剧加剧,比如美国——该问题也逐渐成为争论的焦点,加深了传统政治分歧。尽管如此,中右翼和中左翼争论的的再分配的程度,而不是税收和转移支付所需要的一定的累进性。双方都同意,在一个日渐相互依赖的世界中,国际合作是十分必要的,而分歧之处主要在于应该为此付出多大努力。

那么,既然左右两翼所实施的政策的分歧点大体上只在于程度,为何中间道路党派仍如此弱势?为什么他们不能团结意识形态对立的两面的温和派?

一个原因在于在任何社会,都只有少数人是政治活跃的。与政治上不太参与的成员相比,活跃的党派成员持有更彻底的意识形态,立场也更坚定,这使得活跃者对政治进程的影响是巨大的。毕竟,相对而言,模棱两可的观点和政策主张更难以有效宣传,从而获得广泛热情的群众支持。

但在价值观和经济学方面,也确实存在根本性分歧,经济利益亦然,这导致选民们长期支持右翼或左翼。分歧可能带来妥协,但这并不改变一开始的根本性分歧。

中右翼大党和中左翼大党的持续结构性竞争或许是件好事。这一党派之争有助于将极端分子纳入政治主流,同时也有助于权力变换,而后者是任何民主国家政治动态的基石;中间道路大党长期掌权的体系要差得多。像蒙蒂这样的试图站在中间道路上发动挑战者,不管个人魅力多么强,要想脱颖而出都面临着艰难险阻,而这样的安排有着充分的道理。

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  1. CommentedStamatis Kavvadias

    Interesting. Though the article does not prove its claim at the end that "a system in which a large centrist party remained permanently in power would be far less desirable," it provokes syllogism on the evolutionary course of political processes in, so called, "representative democracies". These processes, in did, swings from left to right, virtually without any intervals of steady course in the middle. But understanding our current status, should not cage us to only see as far as what is possible from where we stand and incremental thinking!

    The bigger issues are the targets we would like to get to, because these targets are what will motivate us. The important questions are, how can we create institutions that are neutral (similar to centrist...), and what could replace "representative democracy", which has found its limits in the global system of economic power and dominance.

  2. CommentedRoland Hazy

    A nice answer to this article regarding centrist power:
    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/israel-s-election-surprise-by-itamar-rabinovich
    By the way, is Dervis really promoting a two-party system over multi-party systems? And how can one wash together different democratic countries; please someone compare Sweden to US. Even economists are now speaking of two main variants of capitalism which is rooted in different political structures.

  3. CommentedCher Calusa

    It’s interesting that the outcome of any political party system in a democratic style government structure is that theoretically the polar opposites will create a middle ground giving an opportunity for moderates to emerge and unite each end of the spectrum. Since a minority of any population is politically inactive, we have to re-examine the premise. We’ve already seen how political party systems don’t create the healthy competition and decision making that we had hoped they would. It’s such a fair and wise idea but it certainly does need the participation of equal numbers of politically active people for successful decision making. How can we integrate people into a system that will take this non-participation quotient into account? Shouldn’t we be examining what would create participation and move into this direction? How can we create a system in which everyone understands that they have an important contribution to make? The fact is that even when citizens make the “choice” not to participate, they have already chosen an outcome that won’t be necessarily beneficial. If we are to envision a future worth living for, we must understand how interconnected we are and how to use this interconnection to capitalize on our abilities to solve problems for everyone's well being in this global system. The party system , as the world knows it, is easily corrupted and incapable of leading us to a positive future.

      CommentedEdward Ponderer

      Given a Gaussian distribution along the political spectrum, it is natural to assume a general electoral landing spot at about a standard deviation from the center -- ergo the success of Left and Right Centrist parties. This natural phenomenon is actually healthy as it remains basically balanced, while avoiding the dangers of a one-party system, even if that party was -- or at least began -- as Centrist.

      But to bring people into this system I think, would involve bringing a consciousness of where the same natural -- even mathematical -- phenomena that leads to this system would like to take us. [Forgive the anthropomorphism, but it makes for easier language.]

      Individuality, our views and contributions to a society whose whole should be greater than the sum of its parts, by nature lead to some animosity. What is crucial is that there has to be a sense of mutual respect and love that overshadows without eliminating the lower "hate" -- reducing it to the maintenance of enough personal space to survive to provide its contribution.

      Let Center dominate, but indeed let some course-correction pull to left or right as necessary, survive within. But more importantly, let such be the case with us as individuals, our local communities and national and ethnic groupings , and the holistic Humanity that we are rapidly evolving into.

  4. CommentedTony Phuah

    How about moderation (http://www.my1510.cn/article.php?id=84705) as guiding principle?

    It’s fine as long as not over. • Moderation • balance

  5. CommentedCarol Maczinsky

    Simply desintegrate the unstable Italian state.

    A fragmented political party system is a great advantage. It leads to better politicians.

  6. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    It is true that centrist parties, politicians cannot provide the answer.
    But it is interesting how this article is celebrating polarized, western style, democratic party politics in an age when western style, polarized democratic party politics became exposed, corrupt and dysfunctional.
    Today's self important and self serving individual and party politics is incapable and helpless in directing, sustaining nations, and even more incapable of finding answers to global problems.
    This is on top of the also unsustainable economic model this governing structure supports, serves.
    Humanity has evolved into a globally interconnected and interdependent web within a closed, natural ecosystem.
    We need completely new governing systems and consumption models in order to adapt to our new conditions.

      CommentedEdward Ponderer

      Mr. Hermann points out a rather obvious fact.

      A broad open palm and agile fingers, all with coordination local sensory and muscule apparatus, are a lot more effective it the safe capture and containment of a wobbling water balloon than a few random, senseless, stiff needles.

      It should be obvious at least, but the unfortunate thing is that it is not and must still be pointed out.

  7. CommentedLuca Arcangeli

    The situation in Italy is strange: the presence of Silvio Berlusconi, with his huge amount of influence over the media, in the last 20 years has turned the political dialogue into a personal fight against him.

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