The Centrism reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Centrism

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In politics, centrism usually refers to the political ideal of promoting moderate policies which land in the middle ground between different political extremes. Most commonly, this is visualized as part of the one-dimensional political spectrum of Left-Right politics, with centrism landing in the middle between left-wing politics and right-wing politics. However, there is arguably more than one dimension to politics, so even the center has its own radicals as exemplified by radical centrist politics.

Comparisons

Centrists, with their fondness for majority rule, share some ideals with classical democrats, though it distances itself from the strong ideological commitments often associated with that viewpoint. Close and sometimes overlapping with centrism are the ideals of political liberalism (in the European sense), though the latter generally emphasizes individual rather than the community.

Significance

Centrism is important because it applies to very large swaths of the populace. In many countries, most members of the public tend to identify themselves as independent rather than as left-wing, right-wing, or any other political extreme. Politicians of many parties try to appeal to this so-called Vital Center, although many pundits find fault in this approach. For example, candidates using centrist politics to gain wider appeal risk losing support from the more idealistic members of their political parties. Also, centrist candidates may find themselves strongly agreeing with opponents in debates, potentially confusing voters as to how they stack up. This may have contributed to the controversial outcome of the 2000 U.S. presidential election in the United States (admittedly aggravated by political polarization among voters, a fairly different phenomenon).

See also