What are some concrete examples of europeans being radically more liberal?

It’s commonly stated on the boards that europe is so far to the left of the US that conservative Europeans are more liberal than liberal Americans. But what exactly are some concrete examples of this?

What policy decisions would be broadly supported by a moderately conservative european but would be broadly rejected by a moderal liberal american?

The late Pim Fortuyn.

It is? Can we get an example of this sentimenet? Since it’s “commonly stated on the boards”, there should be quite a few.

This is slightly hard to search for but here are some that I’ve picked up:





I guess that last one didn’t count as much but I’ve definately seen it stated far more times than that.

I don’t see a policy or set of policies in that article. To clarify, what I’m asking for is a concrete policy for which a moderately conservative european would say “that sounds reasonable” but a moderately liberal american would say “man, that’s way to socialist for me”.

I think a more useful question might be: How much further to the “left” is the European “center” relative to the American “center”? And I assume that this would vary, depending on the European country of reference.

I don’t think any of them count, except the one about Kerry. But Kerry is not assumed to be “liberal” in the US except by conservatives. He’s a pretty moderate Democrat. If you want a liberal, try Pelosi or Kucinich. Kennedy might qualify.

It’s kind of hard to see how “Our definition of a flaming liberal would make a European laugh” doesn’t count as a perfect example of what was mentioned in the OP.

‘Liberal’ in the American political sense doesn’t easily translate to European politics. So it’s not possible to identify direct correlations. European politics, in general, is way to the left of America (or that America is way to the right :wink: )
To put things in the perspective I think you’re after…discussions about health care where are about how to manage the NHS. Scrapping universal healthcare would be off-compass as far as ideology is concerned. Likewise, the death penalty cannot even be considered by any EU member.

I had too log-off soon afterwards, so I just liked as quickly as I could. However, I was hoping you would google his name, or search this board. Oh well. Basically, I have seen him called conservative or even far-right, due solely to the fact he was anti-immigration, and didn’t care to pay lip service to islam. I see how far that got him. In all other respects, he would be called left wing. From wiki :

The OP was asking for concrete examples in the form of policy decisions. This is one of the only answers so far that comes near that. Health-care is a good example. In Europe, everyone has universal health-care, period.

However, differences between individual states do apply. I’d suggest California is more liberal than some European states. There are states in Europe where the death-penalty still exists, even if its almost never used. I guess you’ll have to look for extremes.

One very clear policy example though, is taxes. Overall taxes in the U.S. are estimated at about 25%. The Netherlands, one of the lesser taxed countries (though we have that to thank partly to efficiency rather than a policy choice that provides our citizens with less social support, for instance), has a tax rate of 38%. Many European countries are above 40%.

Another good example, I suppose, is education. In general, every European has access to higher education, money or no. There is always an easily affordable loan available with generous terms, and many also get additional funding they don’t have to pay back. How much is a gift and how much is a loan is sometimes dependent on how much money parents make. The systems can vary wildly though. In Sweden, you get a fairly generous loan, but pay back a small percentage of your wages the rest of your life. In the Netherlands, you pay back a certain amount linked to the height of your income, but limited to 15 years, and a part of your loan is scrapped if you get your degree, for instance.

But never forget that the differences between countries in Europe are at least as big as differences between states in the U.S., something which Europeans also often forget. The Netherlands is like the California of Europe, maybe more extremely so in some respects. For instance, we have:

  • legalised euthanasia
  • legalised prostitution
  • legalised gay marriage
  • semi-legalised drugs
  • legalised medicinal use of marijuana
  • the highest fuel prices of Europe (yay!)
  • no death-penalty
  • social security for all

Especially the first 5 are not at all common in other European countries.

On the other hand, we also have

  • privatised most national industries (phone companies, cable companies, mail, trains, etc.)
  • privatised some parts of social security (such as health-care insurance)

We continuously strive to find the perfect balance between market factors and government control, to curb our costs to be able to compete on international market. Some countries, on the other hand, still face that challenge, such as Germany and France, to a large extent still do.

Also worth mentioning is that the U.K. provides generally much lower levels of ‘socialism’ to its citizens than the average country. For instance, the level of service offered by the NHS is lower, which is, even if the NHS is wildly ineffective at times, reflected in its cost, which is still well below most other European countries (Germany’s being one of the most expensive, but also one of the best).

So while Europe and the U.S. are both nations that shouldn’t be too easily compared, due to the large individual differences of its member states, there are definitely concrete examples that justify the position questioned by the OP.

Actually, that’s an overstatement - drugs should be replaced with marijuana, as no other drugs have a comparable semi-legal status.

Hey! I [del]resemble[/del] resent that remark. :slight_smile:

Today’s headline on MSNBC

“Spanish parliament legalizes gay marriage
Bill also lets same-sex couples adopt children, inherit each others’ property”


That aint gonna happen in the US in the foreseeable future.

I mean nation-wide, of course

France is another good example. People there are debating scrapping the 35 hour work week and going back to 40. But they still want all the same protections and the same number of holidays and such and really fear becoming conservative in the American sense. Same examples apply to national health care and the death penalty; neither is even on the table as topics of political discussion.

As a counter-example, I would like to offer France’s recent law on public display of religious affiliation as an instance of European illiberalism which would be roundly rejected in the States (at least, one would hope). And as a further counter, it’s notable that a lot of the ex-communist states in Eastern Europe have both flat and low tax codes, many of the order of about 15% or less - something seemingly too radically conservative (or economically liberal, I guess) for even the USA to give much consideration. It’s easy to focus on France and Germany as examples of heavily socialised nations with huge welfare states and heavy labour market protections, but Europe is a lot more pluralistic than such a view would indicate.

Ah yes, the holidays. The average number of holidays for Americans is, apparently, 2 weeks (though there are huge differences, some people I"ve met have many, many more). In Europe, that is 5 weeks.

I’d like the name and phone number of your accountant please.

I’ve seen this figure loads of times. Just any old first link I come across on Google says:

"To assess trends in the overall level of taxes and to compare taxation across countries, economists usually look first at the ratio of taxes to gross domestic product, the total value of output produced in the country. In the United States, all taxes – federal, state and local – reached a peak of 29.6 percent of G.D.P. in 2000. That number was, however, swollen by taxes on capital gains during the stock-market bubble.

By 2002, the tax take was down to 26.3 percent of G.D.P., and all indications are that it will be lower still this year and next.

This is a low number compared with almost every other advanced country. In 1999, Canada collected 38.2 percent of G.D.P. in taxes, France collected 45.8 percent and Sweden, 52.2 percent."

Not only am I certain you won’t find any reputable link to say this is not true, but I’d be surprised if you could even find ANY link stating otherwise.