Sometimes established institutions aren’t perfect but cannot be replaced with better solutions. As technological, economic, ecological and other developments might indirectly further impair these imperfect institutions, non-change becomes normatively desirable and a practical challenge for legislators. In contrast to the progressive task of improving the established order, the task of preventing institutional achievements from being lost has been largely neglected by political theorists. To fill this lacuna, the article explores conservation as a mode of political action. It specifies the conditions under which it is reasonable to oppose institutional innovation in politics in order to keep things as they are and develops a formal solution to Edmund Burke’s ‘conservation paradox’ in which existing arrangements can only stay the same if they are changed. The solution construes political conservation as renovative reformism that adapts institutional structures, cultures or mechanisms to changing circumstances in order to prevent indirect transformations of institutional mandates.