Third way

For other uses, see Third way (disambiguation).

The Third Way is a centrist political ideology that, at least from a traditional social democratic perspective, usually stands for deregulation, decentralisation and lower taxes. It is embodied by such figures as US President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and Spain's José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

The "Third Way" of the US Senate centrists, following Bill Clinton's lead, emphasize governmental fiscal conservatism, governmental action to replace welfare and other social assistance programs with so-called workfare, and a stronger preference for free markets. At the same time, such centrists claim to dissociate themselves from pure Laissez-faire economics and other Libertarian positions.

The general idea is included within Radical middle.


Originally, there was the view that a "middle way" exists between communism and the free-market capitalism associated with Anglo-American societies. This view was developed in the 1950s by German ordoliberal economists such as Wilhelm Röpke, resulting in the social market economy.

The term was appropriated by politicians in the 1990s who wished to incorporate Thatcher and Reagan's projects of economic deregulation, privatization, and globalization into the mainstream left wing and centre left political parties so that in this context the Third Way is usually understood as a nickname for neoliberal social-economic policy. As such, it has become an important ideology in modern European democracies, especially by some Social-Democratic parties, as well as for some members of the United States Democratic Party. It gets its name from its alleged role as an alternative to both pure, free market capitalism and the kind of economic order represented by strong welfare states such as the Scandinavian countries and Germany, which are held to be too regulated and taxed at rates that are too high to compete with economies run on free-market principles.


Third way is sometimes described as an idea of former social-democrats which replaces socialism with capitalism with a minimum of socialism, and a strategy to bring the social-democratic parties back to power where they have lost elections. Critics argue that third way politicians are in favour of ideas and policies that ultimately serve the interests of corporate power and the wealthy at the expense of the working class and the poor. The Third Way has been promoted heavily by Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder and many other world leaders.

External links

  • The Third Way ( by Anthony Giddens, followed by and its Critics (
  • Third Way Magazine ( Current affairs magazine, written from a Christian perspective.

nl:De Derde Weg de:Dritter Weg zh:第三种道路


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