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Abstract

The increasing similarity between the economic policies of center-left and center-right political parties has effectively diminished the legitimacy of governments in relationship to their citizenry in Western Europe and the U.S. Capitalist democracies during the period of managed capitalism gained legitimacy by the appearance of the separation of capitalist ownership rights in the marketplace from the political institutions that govern capitalism. During this period, Social Democratic parties in Western Europe, and to a lesser extent the Democratic Party in the U.S., paid some amount of attention to labor unions and mass constituents in formulating their policy agendas. The era of neoliberalism (late 1970s to the present) has broken any such appearances, with the dominant political parties, regardless of party label, moving rightward to embrace many of the same economic policy agendas.

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