We are constantly wondering about the inability of centre-right parties, particularly the Liberal and National parties here in Australia, of accurately reflecting their constituency in their policies and representing them during their terms in power. I don’t want to speculate why this is the case but the following two figures from the US and UK are instructive:
These two figures demonstrate two things at the very least if the same or similar holds true in Australia (if anyone has seen a figure in this style for Australia please link to it in the comments). Firstly, that any centre-right party must, economically, be middle of the road at a minimum. By all means, a policy or decision here or there can tend to the right but the overall economic position the government takes must be broadly centrist. Secondly, in the social dimension, the centre-right parties must be, at the very least, as ‘traditional’ as the centre-left parties are ‘progressive’ overall. This can allow for a even more ‘traditional’ position in this or that policy area while conceding, where necessary, a more middle of the road position in another, but only as a prudential measure with the principled end still in sight when conditions on the ground improve.
No other position makes principled or practical sense. The figures indicate where the conservative electorate are and that is firmly in the upper half of the social dimension both in the UK/US and, I believe, the same is true in Australia. While on the economic dimension, either in the centre (in the US) or leaning left ( in the UK) and probably somewhere in between in Australia.
Until the Liberal and National parties come to terms with this, their pandering to the electorate on the left of the social values dimension will only alienate the bulk of their conservative voters, while their right-leaning economic policies will leave the progressive voters cold. They, as they stand, are not appealing to any substantial segment of the electorate, let alone their natural constituency. The sooner this changes the better.