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Why Europe needs a radical centre

10.06.2016 Josef Lentsch

Politico has an interesting portrait of Albert Rivera, the leader of Ciudadanos in Spain, which describes him as a „radical centrist“.

In the English language, the concept is frequently used, for example by The Economist.

In the German language, however, the concept of a „radical centre“ does not exist.

When Germans or Austrians talk about radicalism, they think about the hard right or left, for historic reasons but also due to the idea that the centre is about moderation and compromise, in Austria’s case for the most part between the centre-left and the centre-right.

The centre, however, has become the problem. Moderation and compromise have turned into political standstill. Democratic Institutions, including parties themselves, have become sclerotic and clientelist.

It will therefore not suffice just to change the management of centrist institutions, as recently with the new Austrian Chancellor, but to change institutions themselves, and get to the root of the problem.

After all, this is where radicalism comes from ethymologically: radix is Latin for root.

It is good to see radically centrist political movements similar to NEOS like Ciudadanos or Nowoczesna in Poland take to the political centre stage across Europe. They are our best hope against the advancement of populists and extremists, who do not want to reform democratic institutions, but destroy them.