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A more “liberal” social democracy?

  • Date(s)
    15 September 2008
  • Location

With a high level roundtable discussion on the theme of A More Liberal Social Democracy? Seeking Fairness and Progress in the Global Age, Policy Network, in partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, assessed the necessity of a new revisionist project for the European centre-left.

In light of the impact of the global economic revolution and following a series of disappointing election results for centre-left parties across Europe, participants at the London event discussed whether the concept of a “more liberal” social democracy might point the way towards a new centre-left approach to confronting the common challenges and opportunities of the global age.

The two day seminar brought together some of the leading progressive thinkers from the UK and over a dozen other European countries. The event continued Policy Network’s ongoing work on the future of social democracy, and follows a major conference in February attended by the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. A full agenda, participant list, and conference report are attached.


In advance of the seminar, Policy Network published a series of website articles by participants intended to enrich the debate on the future direction of the European centre-left. Among the contributions, Roger Liddle outlines the current state of European social democracy; Andrew Gamble reflects on the lessons of the third way for the new challenges of the 21st century; Olaf Cramme suggests that social democrats need to learn how to delegate power to the local, regional and global level; Richard Reeves reflects on the importance of “character” for the idea of a more “liberal” social democracy; while Werner Perger suggests that the issue of leadership is crucial to the future success of social democracy.

Meanwhile, Tobias Durr considers the state of social democracy in Germany; Rene Cuperus and Frans Becker reflect on the state of the Dutch Labour party (PvdA) and its wider lessons for European social democracy; Olivier Ferrand suggests that the French Socialist party (PS) needs to reexamine its leadership process; and Jesus Caldera and Carlos Mulas Granados reflect on the equalities agenda in Spain.

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