Conservatives won major elections in several nations this year, signaling a shift away from left-leaning governance in their respective countries.
Conservative political parties and politicians in Argentina, Switzerland, New Zealand and the Netherlands won major legislative and presidential elections in 2023. Many of these parties and politicians have promised to implement conservative policies after years of leftist governance that has disenchanted a number of voters.
Javier Milei, a libertarian politician and former economist, beat out left-leaning economy minister Sergio Massa in Argentina’s presidential elections in November. Milei, sometimes referred to as “The Madman” by his supporters, is characterized by his firm stance on conservative cultural, political, economic issues and his passionate rants against leftism.
Milei plans to implement the U.S. dollar as Argentina’s official currency as part of a larger effort to fix the country’s economy and culture of poverty, which has grown worse under leftist governance, according to Milei. Argentina’s total inflation passed 160% in December, having increased 12.8% in November alone, according to Reuters.
Milei has also promised to cut half of Argentina’s government agencies, which he often symbolized by wielding a chainsaw on the campaign trail. Weeks after being sworn into office, Milei signed new decrees on Wednesday to start deregulating Argentina’s economy, end export limits and privatize a number of state-owned corporations, according to Reuters.
“This is only the first step,” Milei said on Dec. 18. “The objective is to return freedom and autonomy to individuals and start dismantling the enormous amount of regulations that have impeded, hindered and stopped economic growth.”
In New Zealand, former airline executive and conservative National Party politician Christopher Luxon won the country’s election for prime minister in October, ushering in a conservative government unseen in decades, according to The New York Times. Luxon won after voters overwhelmingly rejected New Zealand’s left-leaning Labor Party which was led by former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Many voters cited economic concerns as the reason for electing Luxon and ousting the Labor Party from governance, according to the NYT. Ardern abruptly resigned from her position as prime minister in January after facing sharp criticism from New Zealanders over her harsh COVID-19 lockdown measures.
Under Luxon and newly elected National Party parliamentary representatives, New Zealand is moving to cut taxes, lower interest rates and curtail heightened inflation rates as part of a larger plan to breathe new life into the country’s economy, according to Bloomberg. Luxon is also looking to cut some of New Zealand’s bureaucratic agencies and expand the country’s military agreements, Reuters reported.
In the Netherlands, Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom seized a victory in November’s national elections, taking 37 of the 150-seat legislature and making it the ruling party, according to the NYT. The victory came partially in response to voter’s dissatisfaction with the liberal governance that had dominated the Netherlands for decades.
Wilder has not yet been named prime minister of the Netherlands as opposing political parties have thus far refused to work with the Party for Freedom, according to Reuters. Wilder, who had been compared to former U.S. President Donald Trump, is considered the representative of the Party for Freedom and has vowed to become the next prime minister.
“Today, tomorrow or the day after, the PVV will be part of government and I will be prime minister of this beautiful country,” Wilders said in November, Reuters reported.
The Party for Freedom advocates for banning the Quran and shutting down Islamic schools over concerns about the “existential threat” of extremist “Islamisation,” according to France24. Wilder’s party advocates for major restrictions on immigration, as the country has historically had high levels of asylum seekers, even more so in the last decade, according to Reuters.
Party for Freedom also advocates for a much stronger police force and has promised funding for 10,000 additional officers, according to the NYT.
“The police need to be in charge in the street again,” the Party for Freedom states. “Criminals have to be arrested immediately and put in prison for a long time.”
In Switzerland, the conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP) took majority control of the country’s parliament after surging to victory in October’s national elections, according to The Associated Press. SVP campaigned on issues like reducing illegal immigration and restoring a dwindling economy, which voters seemed to be more concerned over than with issues like climate change – a key priority for “green” factions in parliament who lost seats in the October elections.
“It’s perhaps that there was a sort of competition among concerns – and that made the job harder for the Greens to make climate concerns the dominant theme in the media,” Political analyst Pascal Sciarini told the AP, referring to issues voters cared about most.
Besides the U.S., dozens of major foreign countries will host national elections next year, including China, Taiwan, South Africa, India, the European Union nations and potentially the U.K., though the latter could be delayed until the following year, according to the Guardian.