New Zealand is showing what a viable libertarianism looks like

Published August 10, 2023

Washington Post

Populist conservatism has been on the march around the globe in recent years. But in New Zealand, many conservatives are beginning to embrace an old ideology: libertarianism.

This surprising trend is thanks to David Seymour, leader of New Zealand’s classically liberal ACT Party. He has rapidly transformed his faction from a nearly extinct institution to a vibrant, growing movement, setting an example for conservatives worldwide.

Seymour is a young intellectual. The 40-year-old became politically active in college, unsuccessfully running for Parliament in 2005 against then-Prime Minister Helen Clark, a Labour Party member. He then went to Canada to work at a free-market think tank, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, for four years. That experience, he told me in an interview, gave him a chance to read classical liberal economic thinkers such as Karl Popper, Friedrich Hayek and Thomas Hazlett, reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s intellectual journey during his pre-political era.

Continue reading on the Washington Post.

Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He was the Thomas W. Smith distinguished scholar in residence at Arizona State University for the winter/spring 2023 semester.

Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.

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