Politics in Minutes (2016)

Political ideologies: the political spectrum

The classification of political ideologies as either left- or right-wing, or at least as being at some point on a scale that ranges from communism at one end and fascism at the other, is, of course, an oversimplification. The criteria for determining a place on the political spectrum are both economic and social, and a political movement may be socially conservative and economically progressive, or vice versa.

Another factor that should perhaps be taken into account is the degree to which a political party dictates and interferes in the activities of the people – how authoritarian or libertarian it is. In the modern world, liberal democracies of one kind or another are the norm, with some form of social welfare, as well as a more or less laissez-faire attitude to free-market capitalism, and the predominant political ideologies are clustered around the centre of the left–right scale. The differences between them can be more clearly seen if each aspect of their policies is examined separately.