State of the Left - January 2011
Policy Network, January 2011
The state of the left is a new monthly insight report from Policy
Network’s Social Democracy Observatory.
It provides readers with an opportunity to gauge how centre-left parties are
responding to levels of public support through analysis of polling trends and
our line-up of national political observers who will offer substantive insights
into how and why topical developments are impacting upon the left.
This month we are pleased to introduce three new observers – Laurent Bouvet
from France, Ignacio Urquizu from Spain, and David Hetherington from
Polls from across Europe show that there has not been a significant shift in
public support for centre-left parties over the festive period.
Only in Ireland,
where the Labour Party could be set to return to government as a junior
coalition partner, is the left on the cusp of an immediate electoral
However, there does seem to be a renewed sense of optimism – a new year’s
resolution of sorts – among progressives about the opportunities 2011 might
offer the left.
In the Netherlands, will the fragmented left unite to challenge the right-wing government? In Germany, will the SPD
succeed making “new progress” the big political debate in a growing economy? In Sweden, will
blanket speculation in the media about the social democrats’ leadership election translate into political dominance? And in the UK will the bite of
the Labour party’s new shadow finance minister put the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition on the
Underneath the surface, however, this bout of progressive optimism seems
and Germany, there is anxiety about the centre-left losing further support in
upcoming elections to appealing National Front and Green parties respectively.
And in Australia,
the Labor government is struggling to elucidate clear economic priorities
despite securing the country from the knock-on effects of the financial
Is this optimism here to stay? Policy Network continues to shed light on this
question, debating whether the tensions within social democracy on mutualism,
mean that pessimism is once again around the corner.
Policy Network Political Observers
monthly from countries across Europe, "the state of the left" will feature both
regular columists and guest contributors. View the latest opinion polls from 18
David Hetherington - Australia
insatiable demand for Australian commodities has seen the economy resume its
breakneck growth...Julia Gillard is wrestling with a problem that would be the
envy of her prime ministerial and presidential peers: how to manage the proceeds
of the boom.”
Laurent Bouvet - France
this be the time of the "Peste blonde"?... Marine Le Pen plays the same old
extreme right-wing song as her father, with any changes to the tune taking place
on the fringes. Yet, these changes have been enough to allow her to grab
attention and, more importantly, to increase her audience. "
Michael Miebach - Germany
SPD's odds are good in Hamburg, Rheinland-Pfalz, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and
Bremen, while surveys suggest that they will come third in Sachsen-Anhalt and
Baden-Württemberg. Such results would obviously fuel the debate about whether or
not the SPD is still a ‘people´s party’.”
Urquizu - Spain
should Zapatero’s Socialist’s review their policies?...On average, Spanish women
now postpone motherhood until the age of 31, and the number of babies born per
women is 1.4, one of the lowest rates in the European Union...Life expectancy
was around 65 in the 1960s. Now, it is close to 81 years."
Katrine Kielos - Sweden
who will become the new leader? It’s impossible to know for sure…With Pär Nuder
not wanting the job, Sven Erik Österberg seems likely to get it. Österberg is
the current group leader in parliament – though respected, he was also one of
the central architects of the disastrous 2010 election.”
Rene Cuperus - The Netherlands
the Netherlands some hopeful and refreshing news can be reported about
progressive politics. Not yet in electoral terms, but in terms of new currents
of political energy...For the first time since the wild and roaring 1970s, a
joint meeting was organised by the three major progressive parties.”
John McTernan - The UK
the national economic debate is shifting from debt to growth…Ed Balls has always
had a powerful economic analysis and the drive to prosecute an argument.
Political events have smoothed his path to the right political bully