Political Right

… a core concept in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101

Concept description

Encyclopaedia Britannica (reference below) describes the political right as the “portion of the political spectrum associated with conservative political thought.”

It notes that:

“The term derives from the seating arrangement of the French revolutionary parliament (c. 1790s) in which the conservative representatives sat to the presiding officer’s right. In the 19th century the term applied to conservatives who supported authority, tradition, and property. In the 20th century a divergent, radical form developed that was associated with fascism.”

Wikipedia (reference below) notes that in contemporary society, the political right is distinguished from the political left in a number of domains:


“In France after the French Revolution, the Right fought against the rising power of those who had grown rich through commerce and sought to preserve the rights of the hereditary nobility. … In the nineteenth century, the Right had shifted to support the newly rich in some European countries (particularly England) and instead of favouring the nobility over industrialists, favoured capitalists over the working class. Other right-wing movements, such as Carlism in Spain and nationalist movements in France, Germany and Russia, remained hostile to capitalism and industrialism. … In modern times, “right-wing” is sometimes used to describe laissez-faire capitalism. … The so-called neoliberal Right, popularised by US President Ronald Reagan and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, combines support for free markets, privatisation and deregulation with traditional right-wing support for social conformity. Right-wing libertarianism (sometimes known as libertarian conservatism or conservative libertarianism) supports a decentralised economy based on economic freedom and holds property rights, free markets and free trade to be the most important kinds of freedom.


“In France, nationalism was originally a left-wing and Republican ideology [but, after] the period of boulangisme and the Dreyfus Affair, nationalism became a trait of the right-wing. Right-wing nationalists sought to define and defend a “true” national identity from elements deemed to be corrupting that identity. … Right-wing nationalism was influenced by Romantic nationalism, in which the state derives its political legitimacy from the organic unity of those it governs. This generally includes the language, race, culture, religion and customs of the nation, all of which were “born” within its culture. Linked with right-wing nationalism is cultural conservatism, which supports the preservation of the heritage of a nation or culture and often sees deviations from cultural norms as an existential threat.”


“Right-wing populism is a combination of civic/ethno-nationalism with anti-elitism, using populist rhetoric to provide a radical critique of existing political institutions. … In Europe, right-wing populism often takes the form of distrust of the European Union and of politicians in general combined with anti-immigrant rhetoric and a call for a return to traditional, national values. In the United States, the Tea Party movement states that the core beliefs for membership are the primacy of individual liberties as defined in the Constitution of the United States, small federal government and respect for the rule of law. Some policy positions include an opposition to illegal immigration, a strong national military force, the right to individual gun ownership, cutting taxes, reducing government spending and balancing the budget.”


“Government support for an established religion was associated with the original French Right. Joseph de Maistre argued for the indirect authority of the Pope over temporal matters. According to Maistre, only governments founded upon a Christian constitution, implicit in the customs and institutions of all European societies and especially in Catholic European monarchies, could avoid the disorder and bloodshed that followed the implementation of rationalist political programs, as in the French Revolution. … The Christian right is a major force in North America. They generally support laws upholding what they consider religious values, such as opposition to abortion, contraception, sex outside marriage and to same-sex marriage and reject scientific positions on evolution and other matters where science disagrees with the Bible. … In India, Hindu nationalism is sometimes considered a part of the Right. The Hindu nationalist movement has attracted privileged groups fearing encroachment on their dominant positions and also “plebeian” and impoverished groups seeking recognition around a majoritarian rhetoric of cultural pride, order and national strength. … Many Islamist groups have been called “right-wing” including the Great Union Party and the Combatant Clergy Association/Association of Militant Clergy and the Islamic Society of Engineers of Iran. … The term “family values” has been used as a buzzword by right-wing parties such as the Republican Party in the United States, the Family First Party in Australia, the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom and the Bharatiya Janata Party in India to describe support for traditional families and opposition to the changes the modern world has made in how families live. Right-wing supporters of “family values” may oppose abortion, euthanasia, the increasing cultural acceptance of homosexuality, divorce, teenage pregnancy and adultery.”

The Political Right is at tension with the Political Left.

See also Socialism.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Ideas and the Policy Process (core topic) in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101.


Encyclopaedia Britannica, Right, at https://www.britannica.com/topic/right, accessed 3 September 2018.

Wikipedia, Right-wing politics, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-wing_politics, accessed 3 September 2018.

Page created by: Alec Wreford and Ian Clark, last modified 3 September 2018.

Image: Echo.Guru, at http://echo.guru/2015/04/rse-the-fifth-acoustic-window/, accessed 3 September 2018.