Are centre-left parties across Europe facing a future of decline? Drawing on a new book, Rob Manwaring and Paul Kennedy argue that an essential element in any robust democracy is an effective centre-left. However, centre-left parties now face a number of major challenges, from the rise of new parties, to the erosion of their traditional support bases, and only by addressing these challenges can their decline be halted.
The French presidential election has already produced high drama, with Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen ultimately advancing to the second round on 7 May. But were their parallels with the first round of voting and developments in other European countries? Caterina Froio draws together three key ways in which the election has reflected Western European trends, but argues that Macron’s ability to successfully oppose the establishment from within stands out as unique in the European context.
Socialists struggle to retain their influence within Europe – FT article
“Following the collapse of the Dutch Labour party last month, and the struggles of PSOE to remain Spain’s main leftwing force, Benoît Hamon’s fifth-placed finish in Sunday’s vote is the latest blow to a family of parties used to being at Europe’s top political table.”
Several of Europe’s centre-left parties have suffered disappointing election results since the financial crisis, but is this slide in support permanent or can they arrest their decline? Sheri Berman writes that with the rise of new parties on the populist right, the centre-left risks sliding into irrelevance unless it can respond with viable and attractive solutions to contemporary problems.
At the turn of the century social democratic parties were in power across the European Union – now: “recently their share of the vote in domestic (and Europe-wide) elections has fallen by a third to lows not seen for 70 years (see chart 1). In the five European Union (EU) states that held national elections last year, social democrats lost power in Denmark, fell to their worst-ever results in Finland, Poland and Spain and came to within a hair’s-breadth of such a nadir in Britain.
If they want to keep fighting, Europe’s social democrats must reckon with a newly unsentimental, biddable and fragmented electorate and a range of rivals eager to steal their supporters. They will need to combine distinctiveness, credibility and persuasiveness: no mean feat. They are no longer carried forth by the tide of history and are often swimming against it. They must make their own currents.”