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Home News State of the Left: Fragile Coalitions, Charades of Unity

State of the Left: Fragile Coalitions, Charades of Unity

13 November 2015

Fragile coalitions, charades of unity
The leader of Portugal’s Socialist party, António Costa, is poised to become the country’s next prime minister. It is a bizarre twist following last month’s elections, where the Socialists suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the incumbent liberal-conservative coalition. Costa refused to resign, instead making overtures to the far-left Communist party and radical Left Bloc – a surprise ‘anti-austerity’ alliance formed, which has just succeeded in toppling the government. If the inevitable danger of the new alliance causing splits within the Social party can be averted, there is now the opportunity to positively redefine a historically difficult relationship between the centre and the far left.
By contrast, in Poland, where the socially conservative Law and Justice party has swept to power, the need for the left to reconfigure is born from necessity rather than opportunity. The late emergence of new-left Together movement, an echo of Spain’s Podemos and Syriza in Greece, thwarted the hopes of the hastily assembled United Left coalition to meet the threshold required to secure representation. The Polish parliament’s lower house now lacks a single progressive representative for the first time in the country’s democratic history. Poland’s left must now act fast to reimagine itself, or face possible extinction.
Events in Portugal and Poland may serve as a useful reminder of the risks and opportunities for an increasingly fragmented left ahead of forthcoming elections in Spain and Ireland. In both countries, an array of leftwing parties are jostling for position. An opportunity has arisen in Ireland, where the historically dominant Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are faltering – but it is nevertheless difficult to envisage how Ireland’s splintered left could form a government. In Spain, Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists facs a pincer threat from insurgents Podemos and Ciudadanos in a battle that looks set to redefine the country’s party system.
Italy and the UK offer the sobering lesson that, even where the left remains united under one party, simmering internal tensions can inflict damage at the polls. In Italy, Matteo Renzi will hope the economic success he has secured nationally can counteract the damage of divisions within his party ahead of local elections. In Britain, there is still a charade of unity following far-left Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, but it is clear that the tensions that now exist between the party’s leadership and MPs are untenable in the long run.
There is positive news from Canada at least, where a landslide for the Liberals has brought an end to almost a decade of Conservative rule, despite a three-way fight with the NDP.

Battle on the left: why Trudeau triumphed over the NDP
After almost a decade of Conservative rule and a heated 11-week election campaign, the centrist Liberals are back in power with a majority government

Corbyn is a loser. Labour is losing. This is a crisis already. We’re just choosing to let it play out a bit first.
HOPI SEN                                  
Latin America's left: the end of an era?
South America’s progressive wave has succumbed to the very forces it rose to fight against: authoritarianism, nepotism and greed
Where now for the Polish left?
With no representation in Poland’s Sejm following last month’s elections, the left must urgently reconfigure to escape extinction
A crowded left: the reconfiguration of Spain's party system
As next month's general election approaches, Spain's insurgent parties are jostling for position
This edition of State of the Left features updates and analysis from Belgium, Canada,Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latin America, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Swedenand the UK

The Corbyn charade continues
At surface level there may appear glimmers of hope for Labour’s new leadership. But be under no illusion: the British left is in crisis

A period of democratic conflict lies ahead for Germany
Germany’s CDU are in disarray over the refugee crisis, but the SPD cannot presume to become the automatic beneficiaries

Escaping the democracy Bermuda Triangle
A new Dutch survey signals the need for moderate forces to reinvent themselves in order to halt growing dissatisfaction with the political and democratic process

Understanding Ireland’s splintered left
The historic dominance of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is faltering, but Ireland’s heavily segmented left makes it difficult to envisage a viable governing coalition

A new chapter for the Portuguese left
Poised to become prime minister, António Costa faces a delicate balancing act to ensure party unity while retaining far-left support for his government

The Flemish Socialists' fightback finally begins
The party’s new leader has the opportunity to reinvigorate its prospects in the forthcoming elections

The refugee crisis will define Löfven’s legacy
The Swedish prime minister does not have the luxury of a majority as he manages an unprecedented inflow of asylum seekers

Italy is back – but so are Renzi's PD pains
The Italian prime minister must hope the economic success he has secured nationally can counteract his party’s failings at local level

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