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Fringe Event - Party of European Socialists Congress

  • Date(s)
    8 December 2006
  • Location
    Porto

On Friday 8 December, Policy Network held a fringe event at the PES Congress in Porto, Portugal –

Scrutinising Modern Social Democracy: Lessons from the Swedish and Dutch General Elections.

Chair:  Patrick Diamond, Policy Network

Participants:  

Pär Nuder
, Former Swedish Finance Minister
Michiel van Hulten, Chairman of the Dutch Labour Party
Denis MacShane, UK Member of Parliament
Wolfgang Merkel, Professor at Humboldt University, Berlin

Over the last two months, two of the most progressive social democratic parties in Europe faced general elections. Both campaigns promoted a progressive pro-reform agenda, embracing economic modernisation and social policy innovation whilst rejecting left- and rightwing populism. Both pose a number of important questions for modern social democracy:

- How can we explain the defeat of the Swedish Social Democratic Party despite the excellent shape of the Swedish economy and welfare state?
- How can modern social democracy confront populism as well as opportunism?
- What impact do the two elections have on the revitalisation of social democracy?

These and other questions should address the future of progressive politics in Europe, making the case for a modern social democratic agenda that rejects the polarisation between those who seem to stand for the promotion of free markets above all else, and those who appear to defend the need for social protection but tend to resist change and innovation.

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