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Home News State of the Left - March 2011

State of the Left - March 2011

16 March 2011
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 election.

View the latest opinion polls from 18 countries here »

Policy Network Political Observers

Reporting monthly from countries across Europe, "the state of the left" will feature both regular columists and guest contributors.

   Australia -  Labor re-embraces multiculturalism

David Hetherington"The 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 France - Multiculturalism: the three mistakes of Nicolas Sarkozy

Laurent Bouvet"The 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?

"The 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?

Katrine Kielos"With 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 KIELOS

The Netherlands The Netherlands - What will end our political exhaustion?

Rene Cuperus"The 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 The UK - Can Labour split the Liberals?

John McTernan“The 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 MCTERNAN

Irish flag  Ireland - An angry electorate has transformed the political landscape

Peadar Kirby

"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

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