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Progressive Governance Conference

03 May 2011
Progressive Governance Conference

Policy Network's Progressive Governance Conference took place in Oslo on 12 and 13 May, 2011.

Hosted by the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, and organised in partnership with the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), the conference brought together centre-left leaders from across Europe and other countries around the world, as well as over 200 leading academics, political thinkers and policymakers.

New YouGov polling on centre-left politics

On the eve of the conference, Policy Network published unique new cross-comparative polling research undertaken across the UK, the US, Sweden and Germany. The results reveal the magnitude of the political challenge facing Labour and other centre-left parties as they bid to be credible contenders for power.

Policy Network's Olaf Cramme and Patrick Diamond, writing in The Guardian, warn that the new pollling shows that the centre-left's weakness must be understood in terms of a governing crisis, not merely an electoral crisis, arguing that voters are palpably frightened by the concentration of power in the market economy but lack faith in the left's capacity to stand up to vested interests.

Phillip Stephens of The Financial Times echoed this in a post-conference opinion leader, describing how the Policy Network surveys "show that people are frightened about the power and inequalities of markets, but also lack faith in the capacity of politicians and the state to do much about it...Pull together these various and sometimes tangled threads and the story that emerges is of a collapse of trust in the state – and, unsurprisingly, weakening support for parties that see government as the central agent of social and economic progress."

The Policy Network data analysis is presented with a series of essays and memos, written by leading scholars from around the world, in the publication "Priorities for a new political economy: Memos to the left.

Conference agenda

The Norwegian prime minister welcomed a number of heads of state and party leaders including: George Papandreou, prime minister of Greece; Boris Tadic, president of Serbia; Eamon Gilmore, deputy prime minister of Ireland; Job Cohen, leader of the Dutch Labour party; Håkan Juholt, leader of the Swedish Social Democrats; Caroline Gennez, leader of the Flemish Socialist Party; Ed Miliband, leader of the UK Labour party; Helle Thorning-Schmidt, leader of the Danish Social Democrats; Victor Ponta, leader of the Romanian Socialist party.

Leading academics, political figures and policy thinkers included, among others: Tom Bentley, deputy chief of staff to the Australian prime minister; Liam Byrne, UK shadow secretary of state for work and pensions; Helen Clark, head of the UN development programme; Anna Diamantopoulou, Greek minister of education; Marco Aurelio Garcia, senior foreign policy adviser to the Brazilian President; Jacob Hacker, professor at Yale University; Will Hutton, executive vice-chair of the Work Foundation; Raymond Johansen, secretary general of the Norwegian Labour Party; Karen Kornbluh, US ambassador to the OECD; Pascal Lamy, director-general of the WTO; Enrico Letta, deputy secretary of the Italian Democratic Party; Matthias Machnig, minister of labour, economics and technology in the German state of Thuringia; Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, president of the Party of European Socialists; John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress; Andrés Velasco, former minister of finance of Chile.


Policy Network has a rich history of hosting major Progressive Governance Conferences, with recent summits hosted in the UK and Chile by then heads of state, Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet and UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Recent participants have included, amongst others, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva; US Vice-President Joseph Biden; Pascal Lamy, Direct-General of the WTO; George Papandreou, Greek Prime Minister; and Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

For press enquiries please contact Michael McTernan at mmcternan@policy-network.net, or call 020 7340 2209 (Mob: 07807062032). Sign-up to Policy Network’s newsletter or follow on Twitter (#PG11) and Facebook for updates and conference reporting.

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