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The Irish left and the crisis
Michael Holmes

The Republic of Ireland was one of the countries worst hit by the global financial crisis and the ensuing Eurozone crisis. It was the first EU country to go into recession and the first to require a bailout, it was effectively under the control of the troika and endured austerity measures for several years. Even though the country officially emerged from bailout conditions at the end of 2013, and recorded the highest rate of growth among EU member states in subsequent years, the social costs still weigh heavily on the population and have created a greatly changed political context.

This chapter argues that the left has expanded significantly, but has done so in a fragmented way that will be difficult to sustain. And Europe has become an important line of division between the centre left and the radical left. The chapter begins with an overview of the crisis in Ireland. The focus is then on the programmatic and political responses of the Irish left. The crisis created an opportunity for the left, but there was no consistent left-wing response, and one of the major sources of disagreement among left parties is European integration. Finally, the chapter evaluates the Irish left in terms of votes, office and policies.

in The European left and the financial crisis
Editors: Michael Holmes and Knut Roder

The financial crisis that erupted on both sides of the Atlantic in 2007–8 initially seemed to offer new political and economic opportunities to the left. As financial institutions collapsed, traditional left-wing issues were apparently back on the agenda. There was the prospect of a return to a more regulated economy, there was widespread state intervention to try to salvage failing banks, and it led to increased scrutiny of the wages and bonuses at the upper end of the scale. However, instead of being a trigger for a resurgence of the left, and despite a surge of support for new parties like SYRIZA and Podemos, in many European countries left-wing parties have suffered electoral defeat. At the same time, the crisis has led to austerity programmes being implemented across Europe, causing further erosion of the welfare state and pushing many into poverty. This timely book examines this crucial period for the left in Europe from a number of perspectives and addresses key questions including: How did political parties from the left respond to the crisis both programmatically and politically? What does the crisis mean for the relationship between the left and European integration? What does the crisis mean for socialism as an economic, political and social project? This collection focuses on a comparison between ten EU member states, and considers a range of different party families of the left, from social democracy through green left to radical left.

The Party of European Socialists and the financial crisis
Michael Holmes and Simon Lightfoot

This chapter examines the response of the Party of European Socialists (PES) to the financial crisis and focuses on two objectives. The first was related to theories of the development of Euro-parties. The second was to explore issues relating to social democracy through an analysis of the PES. The chapter explores how the PES sought to build a common social democratic response to the financial crisis at the European level. There were three distinct phases of the PES policy response. First, the PES essentially reiterated existing policy proposals relating to financial regulation. Second, the PES began to try to develop new ideas and policies, by challenging the growing move towards austerity programmes and instead calling for ambitious investment programmes. Third, the PES began to focus particularly on the future cohesion of the single currency and of the European Union (EU), trying to find a means of encouraging European unity.

in European social democracy during the global economic crisis
Opportunity or catastrophe?
Michael Holmes and Knut Roder

This book examines how the European left reacted to the economic crisis triggered by the banking collapses of 2008, and this first chapter outlines the structure of the book as a comparative analysis across ten EU member states, as well as across the different party families of the left, from social democracy through green left to the radical left. The basic features of the economic crisis that hit the global economy in 2008 are introduced, and the very particular implications it had for the European Union. The chapter then examines how the crisis created a challenge for left-wing parties in Europe, setting out the political ideas linked to the economic crisis.

in The European left and the financial crisis
Abstract only
The left and European integration after the crisis
Michael Holmes and Knut Roder

This concluding chapter argues that the conventional interpretations of the relationship between the left and European integration have been altered by the crises. We start by summarising the existing interpretations of the left and integration, before setting out the argument that the crises created an opportunity for a new left perspective on the European Union, which we term ‘alter-Europeanism’. We then analyse the main obstacles hindering the achievement of any new form of programme for the European left in the context of the current form of European integration. Judging from the case studies in this book, the European left remains broadly supportive of EU integration and is reluctant to embrace Euroscepticism fully. However, extensive debates have emerged over the direction of the European Union, indicating that there are limits to the Europeanisation of the left. The economic crisis has significantly altered the relationship of the left and Europe.

in The European left and the financial crisis