State of the Left - March 2011
Policy Network, March 2011
The centre-right dominance of European politics at the national level has
raised the stakes at regional and local elections. It is here that social
democrats now look for encouragement and signs of political renewal: such is the
state of the left.
From The Hague to Hamburg to Barnsley, questions abound over what sort of
barometer such contests can be for the left’s position. In this month’s
State of the Left observers dissect both the recent resounding
victories in the UK and Germany
and the wider implications of the political stalemate delivered by voters in the Dutch regional elections.
Elsewhere, panic has hit the mainstream French political parties as La
pest Blonde (Marine Le Pen) has emerged in some polls as a front runner for
the French presidency. Will the French left be in a position to provide a more coherent response than the embattled
Nicolas Sarkozy? Or is it wishful thinking to presume that, like the case of the
Swedish social democrats, things will be much easier when the vexed leadership
question is resolved?
Finally, insights shed light on significant new progress in Spain;
the re-embracing of multiculturalism in Australia;
and Ireland's angry
View the latest opinion polls from 18 countries here
Policy Network Political Observers
monthly from countries across Europe, "the state of the left" will feature both
regular columists and guest contributors.
Australia - Labor re-embraces multiculturalism
Labor government has struck out in a surprising new direction, with a (re-)
embracing of multiculturalism. So is Australian Labor right to revive
multiculturalism, to argue that it can be a positive force for social democratic
change? There are several reasons to believe so." BY DAVID HETHERINGTON
France - Multiculturalism: the three mistakes of Nicolas Sarkozy
debate on multiculturalism has deeply destabilised the already fragile social
and cultural fabric of French society…If any failure exists, it is first the
failure of an inefficient, inequitable and short-sighted policy; a fiasco which
today, as political revolutions take place in countries from which many French
people of immigrant descent originate, also extends to France’s foreign policy."
BY LAURENT BOUVET
Germany - What does Hamburg mean for the SPD?
German social democrats started this election year with a landslide
victory...There is no doubt that its strategy, aimed squarely at the centre of
society...was a success: 50,000 former CDU voters turned to the SPD, more than
three times as many as came from the Greens, the Liberal Party and the Left
Party combined" BY MICHAEL MIEBACH
Sweden - Who will win the leadership puzzle?
just two weeks left to the party conference, there is no consensus around any
candidate, and the whole process is becoming increasingly farcical. “Maybe we
could import someone from abroad?” people are joking... Maybe David Miliband,
who lost the UK Labour leadership battle, is looking for a job?" BY KATRINE
The Netherlands - What will end our political exhaustion?
Dutch electorate is squeezed between an outlook which is optimistic about
globalisation and an attitude which is gripped in tradition and identity... It
is a sign of the times: troubled complexity without orientation. This
psycho-cultural schizophrenia can be found both in the right-wing conservative
and progressive political camps." BY RENE CUPERUS
The UK - Can Labour split the Liberals?
current shape of British politics was vividly displayed in a by-election in
Barnsley. Labour won handsomely… It now needs to secure the ultimate prize - the
defection of some Lib Dem MPs. Last week made that easier - sixth place in a
by-election is a near-death experience. Anyone fancy a life-raft?" BY JOHN
Ireland - An angry electorate has transformed the political landscape
"Overall, Election 2011 has shifted Irish politics towards a marked
left-right divide. This is bound to strengthen in future years though, with
Labour set to enter government, the likelihood is that it is groups to the left
of Labour which will make most of the gains." BY PEADAR KIRBY