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.

Opportunity or catastrophe?

Introduction This book examines how the European left reacted to the economic crisis triggered by the banking collapses of 2008. For some, the crisis was an opportunity for a triumphant comeback for left-wing ideas and policies and for the left to regain the political initiative. The German Social Democrats talked about the crisis being ‘a new starting point for more democracy and a new common ground’ (SPD, 2009 : 5), and there were assertions that ‘the crisis in Europe can be a chance for social democracy to rediscover

in The European left and the financial crisis
Abstract only
The left and European integration after the crisis

West European left’ (1994: 2). But the economic crisis certainly impacted on the left, with former British Labour Party minister Peter Hain asking bluntly, ‘why have social democratic parties been in abject retreat?’ (2016: v). One common explanatory factor could be globalisation. Mitchell and Fazi argue that the decline of the left is not just electoral, it reflects a change of core values within society. For them, ‘the extreme right have been more effective than left-wing or progressive forces at tapping into the legitimate grievances of the

in The European left and the financial crisis
The demise of PASOK and the rise of SYRIZA

January 2015. The electoral campaign was short and intense. SYRIZA continued to poll higher than its major opponents of ND and PASOK combined. SYRIZA's core objective was to secure an overall parliamentary majority. SYRIZA's campaign emphasised hope of change in Greece and in the EU, with the main slogan declaring ‘Hope is coming, Greece moves forward, Europe is changing’ (SYRIZA, 2015 ). Their campaign was significantly supported by Party of the European Left member parties, which sent delegations to Athens. During the party's central political

in The European left and the financial crisis
Europe, nationalism and left politics

Journal of Political Research , 51 ( 4 ): 504–539 . Heilig , D. ( 2016 ) Mapping the European left: socialist parties in the EU , New York : Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung . www.rosalux-nyc.org/wp-content/files_mf/theleftineurope_eng.pdf (accessed 15 July 2017). Heine , F. & Sablowski , T

in The European left and the financial crisis

were not acquired which could theoretically have been used for social policies. Hence, although Latvia's social system could be in need of left policies, the political party system and political culture prevent it from happening. The pro-European left and national interests The positioning of the Latvian left parties towards the European Union is unusual. All parties, regardless of their stance on ethnic issues, have declared themselves to be pro-EU. Though some of their politicians occasionally are tempted to criticise the

in The European left and the financial crisis
The left and the euro crisis in Finland

). The Left Alliance entered another heterogeneous cabinet following the 2011 elections, but after an uneasy three years left the National Coalition-led ‘six pack’ cabinet in the spring of 2014 due to differences over economic policy. The Left Alliance belongs to the Party of the European Left and its MEP sits in the GUE/NGL group. The Green League is quite centrist and refuses to be categorised as a left-wing party. It served in the government from 1995 to 2002 (when it left the cabinet due to disagreements over nuclear energy), from 2007 to 2011

in The European left and the financial crisis
The impact of austerity politics in France

called the Left Front (FdG – Front de Gauche); MEPs sit in the GUE/NGL group, but not all constituent groups in the Left Front are members of the Party of the European Left – just the PCF and the Left Party; 2 (2) a Green movement (EELV – Europe Écologie Les Verts), promoting environmental issues and a member of the European Green Party; (3) the Socialist Party (PS – Parti Socialiste), the largest party of the French left, and a member of the Party of European Socialists. The following section briefly summarises the

in The European left and the financial crisis
The German left and the crisis

European Green Party and the Greens-EFA group. Die Linke is a member of GUE-NGL and of the Party of the European Left (Roder, 2012 : 95). 1 The chapter looks at three phases and analyses the left's role towards the crisis through the CDU/CSU-SPD (2005–2009); CDU/CSU-FDP (2009–2013), and CDU/CSU-SPD (2013–2017) coalition government periods. The 2013 election is particularly significant, and this chapter focuses on it. The result in 2013 made a left coalition possible, but instead

in The European left and the financial crisis
An uncertain balance

After decades without significant changes, in the short period from the May 2014 European elections to the June 2016 general elections, Spanish politics experienced the emergence of new political actors, new electoral dynamics and new issues on the agenda. This chapter aims to synthesise the main changes in Spain’s political system during the crisis, with a special focus on the leftist parties. The first section summarises the evolution of the Spanish left since 2008. The second section addresses the country’s new party system after the 2015 and 2016 general elections and the patterns of interaction among its main actors. The third section analyses the discourse, tactics and ideology of the leftist parties to shed light on the controversial nature of the newcomers. Finally, the analysis focuses on the Spanish left’s attitude towards European integration.

in The European left and the financial crisis