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State of the Left is a regular insight bulletin that reports from across the world of centre-left politics.

Each month it combines a Policy Network editorial with a range of political opinion pieces from expert commentators in different national settings. Regular contributors and guest writers ensure insight on key political developments and debate across Europe and beyond, including the US, UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, The Netherlands, Spain, Greece, Italy and Latin America.

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Editor: Michael McTernan (mmcternan@policy-network.net)

   State of the Left - November 2014

Battle for the True Left

The realignment of party politics across Europe continues to gather pace. A lot of attention is focused on rightwing populist actors like Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage and Geert Wilders, often distracting from the growth of radical left parties in Europe.

Podemos now leads the polls in Spain. They only formed in January this year and have drawn a predominantly young and educated vote. The mainstream Spanish Socialist Party is losing ground with the new generation, despite being in opposition to an unpopular austerity government over the past two years (though they now have a new leader in Pedro Sanchez). Likewise in Greece, the far-left Syriza party led by Alex Tsiparis topped the polls in May's European Parliament elections and now looks to force a snap election after which they could well lead the next Greek government.

In Germany, far-left Die Linke is set to take power in Thuringia, the first time it has taken charge of an administration since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Dutch Labour Party (PVdA) remains deeply fragmented on 10 per cent as the 'Green Left' increasingly move from their social liberal base to tap into the leftwing redistributionary 'Pikettyism' sweeping the country. In the United Kingdom, Labour faces a threat to its traditionally solid Scottish base – with the left-leaning promises of the Scottish National Party breaking historic attachments. Polls also see the Green Party rising as it too moves onto leftwing territory, appealing especially to young, educated voters.

Left-on-left collisions are also vividly taking place in Italy and France. Matteo Renzi's 'Jobs Act' has provoked angry demonstrations from the trade unions and elements of his party. But in passing the first stage, he retains the wind in his sails. His strategy is clear: he maintains that his radical innovations are the true politics of the left. Manuel Valls follows a similar path, declaring: 'we need to get past the backward-looking left'.

Ultimately, a substantial agreement over a sustained and inclusive growth strategy including both supply- and demand-side measures is needed to arrest this political fragmentation.  As the Gabriel-Macron initiative for reform and investment shows, there is a lot of work to do on schemes, mechanisms and alliances for the realignment of European politics. To this end, European-level centre-left alliances and initiatives are vital. This is particularly clear in terms of Berlin's small appetite for relaxing its fiscal stance, even within SPD ranks.

This month's State of the Left features critical analysis on Greece, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Netherlands, UK, Hungary, Denmark, and Portugal.

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