The Overton window is the range of policies acceptable to the public. Photo: Flickr/Irene Grassi
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What is the Overton window?

The Overton window is the range of policies voters will find acceptable.

The Overton window is a political theory that refers to the range (or window) of policies that the public will accept.

The idea is that any policy falling outside the Overton window is out of step with public opinion and the current political climate, and formulated to try and shift the Overton window in a different direction, or to expand it to be wider.

You will usually hear the Overton window used in relation to the centre ground, and whether a certain party has managed to shift it to the left or right. For example, some argue that Ukip has shifted the Overton window to the right, by making room for the main parties to formulate harsher policies on immigration than the UK has previously experienced.

Its originator was Joseph P Overton, a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. He developed the theory in the mid-Nineties.

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The NS Podcast #230: It's (New) Party Time

The New Statesman podcast.

Helen is joined by Anoosh to consider whether a new political party would have any chance of success in the UK. Then they discuss the TV shows everyone really likes to watch but doesn't admit to and analyse why the quality of Don't Tell The Bride has declined. Finally, a bumper You Asked Us section including listener questions on social care, punching Nazis, the Tory economic agenda and more.

You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes here or with this RSS feed: http://rss.acast.com/newstatesman, or listen using the player below.

 

Further reading:

The NS centenary debate from 2013 - did the left win the twentieth century?

Meet the Ivanka Voter by Anne Helen Petersen on Buzzfeed.

Anoosh on the EDL.

Why is Love Island so Tory?

How Don't Tell the Bride lost its spark

Take Me Out and the failures of feminism by Alan White.