A Small government is one which minimizes its own activities. In its "perfect" form it would confine itself to
foreign policy, defenseand lawand leave other activities to local government, companiesand individuals.
It is a concept important to
classical liberalismand libertarianism.
In Hong Kong
Hong Konghas followed small government, laissez-fairepolicies for decades.
The Prime Minister of
Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, wrote the book Fra socialstat til minimalstat (literally: From social state to minimal state) in 1993, in which he advocated an extensive reform of the Danish welfare system along classic liberal lines. In particular, he favors lower taxes and less government interference in corporate and individual matters etc. In 1993 he was awarded the Adam Smith award by the libertarian society Libertas, partly due to his having written Fra socialstat til minimalstat.
His popular government has sought to minimize government spending.
New Zealandhas made many small government reforms.
In the United Kingdom
The idea of Small government was heavily promoted in the
United Kingdomby the Conservative government of 1979under the Premiership of Margaret Thatcher. There are differing views on the extent to which it was achieved.
An important part of the Thatcher government's policy was
Privatizationwhich was intended to reduce the role of the state in the economy. Supporters of Thatcherismwould argue that this has been an unqualified success.
Opponents would argue that privatization has not led to small government at all. It has just led to the appearance of small government, while pushing up costs and harming public services. This argument is particularly heard in connection with the railways and the
National Health Service.
In the 20th century, Small government was generally associated with the Conservative Party and
Big governmentwith the Labour Party. In the 21st century, both parties compete to "do more with less".
While governments try to interfere less with the economy they seem driven to interfere more with people's personal lives. The Labour government during the
Premiership of Tony Blairwas criticized on this score, e.g. by giving unwanted advice about eating, drinking and smoking.
In the United States
Small government has also been campaigned for in the U.S., but has been somewhat less successful. It is most commonly associated with the Libertarian party, who is not represented in America's
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