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State of the Left: Too many chefs spoil the left

25 October 2016




Too many chefs spoil the left
It goes almost without saying that picking the right leader is the key to any political party’s success.
 
That is easier said than done. Whereas for decades parliamentary parties were entrusted with choosing their party chief, it has since become fashionable to widen the franchise.
 
Involve more people in the process, so the thinking goes, and you are likely to end up picking the candidate with the widest national appeal.
 
But as the UK Labour party’s experience demonstrates, with its tens of thousands of three pound ‘registered supporters’,  things don’t always work out that way. In the echo-chamber age of social media, parties can all too easily end up with leaders who appeal to a small vocal minority but have little wider appeal.
 
Unfazed by the unhappy British example, France’s Socialists are about to undertake their second ‘open’ presidential primary.  Although, as Jocelyn Evans and Gilles Ivaldi explore, with a string of candidates – including charismatic leftwinger Arnaud Montebourg – the risk is that the electorate are left with the impression of a weak and divided movement. It might well prove a case of ‘too many chefs’ spoiling the left.

The ongoing leadership turmoil in Spain’s Psoe – dubbed by commenters the ‘war of the roses’ – may yet end in a party primary, with Andalucian president Susana Díaz the current favourite.

Meanwhile, the starting whistle has been blown on the Dutch labour party’s first ever open contest. As Bart van Bruggen explains, it looks set to be a battle more about style than ideological difference.



SPAIN
Three hundred days later
With infighting now rife among the Spanish left, the formation of a minority conservative government looks increasingly likely
BY ELISA DÍAZ AND MARTA ROMERO

The French left’s apparent inability to mount a credible challenge in next year’s presidential race may have repercussions far beyond the election
BY JOCELYN EVANS AND GILLES IVALD                           READ MORE >>
ITALY
Politics gets personal for Renzi
As the world awaits the outcome of Italy’s referendum on constitutional reform, the prime minister’s personal fate could also be hanging in the balance
BY MATTIA GUIDI
NETHERLANDS
It’s all to play for in the fight to lead Dutch Labour
The PvdA has six weeks to choose its leader before facing the country in next year’s general election
BY BART VAN BRUGGEN
This edition of State of the Left features updates and analysis from Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain and the United States




PORTUGAL
Have the Portuguese Socialists found the cure for electoral decline?
Support for the Socialist government is soaring on the first anniversary of its alliance with the far left in parliament
BY HUGO COELHO


AUSTRIA
The tug of war over Ceta
Elevating the issue of the Canadian-European trade deal may prove to have been a mistake for Austria’s Socialist party
BY GERHARD MARCHL


NEW ZEALAND
Unpicking the ‘left bloc’ delusion
Recent polling exposes the New Zealand Labour party’s strategy of pursuing a potential pact with other leftwing parties as fatally flawed
BY JOSIE PAGANI


BELGIUM
Bad luck for the leftwing opposition
Belgian media are relishing the thought of opposition coming from inside the government, making it very hard for the ‘real’ opposition to make its voice heard
BY WIM WERMEERSCH


UNITED STATES
Parody turns to jeopardy
Donald Trump’s race for the White House may be in peril, but so too is a fundamental pillar of American democracy
BY CLAIRE O'CONNOR                                READ MORE >>


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