Transpartisan Europe: A Tale of Two Countries
Transpartisan Note #50
by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner
“In office, but not in power,” headlined The Telegraph of London on Sunday, June 11. The headline described the situation of British Prime Minister Teresa May. May called the June 8 election to bolster the Conservative party’s Parliamentary majority. Instead the Conservatives lost 13 seats and their majority.
Across the channel in Paris the next day, Reuters reported the French assembly vote saying, “The vote delivered a further crushing blow to the Socialist and conservative parties that had alternated in power for decades until Macron’s election in May blew apart the left-right divide.”
New French President Emmanuel Macron, says Reuters, “professes to be of neither right nor left.” Macron’s year-old party now takes up the task of integrating its supporters who come from both left and right. Meanwhile, back in London, The Telegraph reports that “Tory and Labour MPs plot secret deal to ensure soft Brexit.”
As the left/right division loses its hold on Western democracies, transpartisan possibilities emerge. The partisan divide endured from 1790’s Constituent Assembly seating during the French Revolution (king’s critics left, supporters right) to now. The Economist profile of Macron gives a taste of the emerging Transpartisan effect.
Today’s British and French governing parties, like Trump, got less than 30% of the electorate’s votes. French Historian Jean Garrigues summarized the situation: “There will be rather weak political opposition within the Parliament, but we are going to face it on the street, on the social networks, outside of institutions…And it is always dangerous when political opposition hardens outside of institutions.”
This transpartisan moment calls for resistance and creation. It calls for resisting precipitous collapse of, and gratuitous attacks on, existing institutions. It also calls for creating and nurturing new, resilient, institutions. New institutions that embrace and transcend constricting, unproductive systems rejected by contemporary electorates can give shape to the transpartisan force.
We will publish Vol. I, Issue 2, of the Transpartisan Review on July 4, 2017. It will contain ideas—replacing the income tax for example—that we believe usefully expand the national discourse. New ideas broaden thinking. Relying solely on old ideas feeds chaos.