Endgame for the Centre Left?
The Retreat of Social Democracy across Europe
After a period of electoral dominance, centre-left parties in western
Europe have suffered a dramatic erosion of support; the vote share
enjoyed by social democrats is at its lowest ever level. Social
democracy stands at a point of great promise, but also peril. This book
explores these themes and argues that to write off centre-left politics
now would be a great mistake. It counters the idea that social
democratic values have been rejected by voters. The ideal of solidarity
and the need to forge bonds of connection in a volatile, interdependent
world is as compelling as it always was.
At the same time, the centre
left clearly faces difficulties: ‘the forward march of labour’ has been
abruptly halted while declining trust in politics adds to the problem of
constructing viable electoral coalitions. The UK’s decision to vote to
leave the European Union is symptomatic of societies throughout Europe
that are irreparably divided between voters who embrace economic change
and openness, and those who are opposed to it. Social democracy has to
find new ways to build bridges between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ communities
by updating public institutions and policies, just as socialist parties
did in the immediate aftermath of the second world war.
About the author
Patrick Diamond is co-chair and research director at Policy Network, Gwilym
Gibbon Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, and a Visiting Fellow in the
Department of Politics at the University of Oxford.
Endgame for the Centre Left? The Retreat of Social Democracy across Europe is now available from Rowman & Littlefield International
This book is published by Policy Network and Rowman & Littlefield International