- Globalization helped change that. With nations and companies vying on a global scale, it has become difficult for a country to separate the effects of public spending and budget deficits from its labor costs and capacity to compete in export markets. The key moment came as far back as 1994, some political analysts say, when the World Trade Organization was created and much of the world began shifting to a more free-market economy.
"The WTO marked the triumph of the market economy," says Dominique Reynié, head of Paris-based Foundation for Political Innovation. "Since then, the left has been unable to propose another route."
- The U.K.'s Labour Party stood as an exception when, under Tony Blair, it tried to shape a middle road. But Mr. Blair had inherited a deeply deregulated economy from the hands of previous conservative leaders, state coffers swelled during an economic boom, and he "had room to increase public spending and hire state workers," Mr. Reynié said. His successor, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has struggled to find a similar compromise way amid Europe's falling financial fortunes.
In some European countries, left-wing parties have failed to maintain a broad electoral base and ended up fractured and battling with one another. In Germany, the Social Democrats have suffered from a long-term decline that's linked to the decline in their unionized, working-class base, says Manfred Göllner, head of opinion-polling institute Forsa in Berlin.
- Under former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder from 1998 to 2005, the party tried to win new, middle-class voters by marrying social justice with economic efficiency. But that fell apart when Mr. Schröder was forced to cut social spending to bring budget deficits under control at a time of record unemployment. The result: The party split, with dissidents defecting to help form a new, anti-capitalist party called "The Left" in 2007.
In some countries, the left has disintegrated into a myriad of groups. There have been so many defections from France's Socialist Party that the country now has half-a-dozen left-leaning movements. They include the New Anti-Capitalist Party, a Trotskyite movement, and the Left Front, an alliance of Communists and Communist-leaning politicians.
- The Socialist Party is divided over whether it should tie up with the Greens or with the MoDem, a center-right movement.
Italy's left has never quite recovered from the fall, in early 2008, of a government supported by a tenuous coalition of nine separate left-leaning movements ranging from Catholics to hard-core communists. Now, most don't believe the left will be a credible alternative to scandal-plagued Silvio Berlusconi's center-right coalition for years to come.
Some fear" (fear? Suffering is to fear, not this.)ed. "... that the inability of many European left-wing parties to attract voters is a cause -- not just a symptom -- of a rise among parties on the far right. "
- When people fear that they are
- not protected by their governments,
- they go back to nationalism,"
said Anthony Wedgwood Benn, a retired U.K. Socialist lawmaker."
- Exactly. sm via Lucianne.com