Syncretic politics, or spectral-syncretic, refers to politics that combine elements from across the conventional left–right political spectrum. The term syncretic politics has been derived from the idea of syncretism (syncretic religion). The main idea of syncretic politics is that taking political positions of neutrality by combining elements associated with the left and right can achieve a goal of reconciliation. Since this umbrella term is defined by the combination of the two standard poles of a given one-dimensional political spectrum, it refers to quite heterogeneous approaches.
In Hungary there has been a strong presence of syncretic political parties since the revolutions of 1989. They won the election in 1990 forming a coalition government: Hungarian Democratic Forum, Independent Smallholders, Agrarian Workers and Civic Party and KDNP. KDNP later became a close ally of FIDESZ, losing this attribute in the process. After the first 4-year term syncretic parties went into a decline, many of them disappearing and only two new ones emerging since then: Hungarian Justice and Life Party and Politics Can Be Different, the latter still being present in the Hungarian parliament. Notable politicians are prime minister József Antall, minister of agriculture and rural development József Torgyán and green leader András Schiffer.
At the peak of the Cold War, the former Argentinian President Juan Perón (1946–55; 1973–74) defined the international position of his doctrine (Peronism) as a third position between capitalism and communism, a stance which became a precedent of the Non-Aligned Movement.
In the United States, "third way" adherents embrace fiscal conservatism to a greater extent than traditional social liberals, and advocate some replacement of welfare with workfare, and sometimes have a stronger preference for market solutions to traditional problems (as in pollution markets), while rejecting pure laissez-faire economics and other libertarian positions. This style of governing was firmly adopted and partly redefined during the administration of President Bill Clinton. Political scientist Stephen Skowronek introduced the term "third way" into the interpretation of American presidential politics. Such presidents undermine the opposition by borrowing policies from it in an effort to seize the middle and with it to achieve political dominance. This technique is known as triangulation, and was used by Bill Clinton and other New Democrats who sought to move beyond the party's New Deal liberalism reputation in response to the political realignment of the 1980s. Through this strategy, Clinton adopted themes associated with the Republican Party, such as fiscal conservatism, welfare reform, deregulation, and law and order policies. Famously, he declared in the 1996 State of the Union Address, "the era of big government is over".
In the United Kingdom, the emergence of New Labour under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown was a pitch for the Third Way, mixing economic neo-liberal policies, such as banking privatisation, with socially progressive policies.
However, what is often missed in many of these discussions is an awareness of the variety of ideologies of the third way that span the twentieth century and traverse the spectrum from left to right.