Transnational party federations (TNPs) have been critical prisms through which to analyse the EU’s tensions between intergovernmentalism and supranationalism. This study focuses on the radical left TNP, the European Left Party (EL), founded in 2004. It centres on four general questions: first; the conditions under which TNPs might be successful; second, how the EL compares with other TNPs, particularly those of the broad centre-left, the Party of European Socialists (PES) and the European Green Party (EGP); third, to what extent the EL has fostered a consensus over positions towards the EU previously conspicuously lacking among the radical left; and fourth, the degree to which the EL has enabled an increase in the electoral or policy influence of the radical left in Europe. The study highlights the strengths and weaknesses of TNPs as networks of Europeanisation; they have important roles in the EU political system but remain timid actors with only selectively developed transnationalism. It shows how the EL is a paradoxical actor; on the one hand it has brought radical left transnational co-operation to historical highs; on the other it is both less influential than the PES and less transnational and consolidated than the EGP. Such paradoxes result from persistent internal divisions between Europeanists and sovereigntists, as well as suboptimal internal structures. The influence of the EL is also paradoxical. It has emerged as a centre of attraction for the European radical left promoting the Left Europeanist position, but is a long way from being hegemonic or unchallenged on the left.

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

. The challenge of autonomously coming to a coherent position, still less developing a genuine ‘positive’ transnationalism, was forbidding (Hanley, 2008 ). In short, it is unsurprising that it took the European Left Party fifteen years to emerge after the fall of the Berlin Wall; perhaps it is more surprising that it emerged at all. This chapter traces the history and prehistory of the EL's emergence, showing that despite the aforementioned divisions, aspirations towards greater transnationalism remained present among the radical left in the immediate aftermath of

in The European Left Party

Chairpersons. Next, we look at the question of individual membership and how well developed or otherwise the concept has been. We then move on to examine the role of the EL within the ambit of the European Parliament. Finally, we consider some of the other possibilities for involvement in politics and policy-making initiatives that EL offers, including its attempts to broaden the scope of its activities and to reach out to the wider European left. In short, the purpose of this chapter is two-fold: to consider how the organisational structures and policy-making processes of

in The European Left Party
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contention and concern for the European left, and above all the European radical left (those parties defining themselves as to the left of and not merely on the left of social democracy and the Green party family). The radical left has been among the most avowedly internationalist of all party families, yet paradoxically has been among the most reluctant to organise internationally in the European arena. Yet this paradox has been seldom studied. With the exception of the major communist parties and some country and regional case studies, European radical left parties

in The European Left Party
Developing relations with the movements and broader European radical left

Introduction It was intrinsic to the EL's founding ethos that it was a bottom-up ‘networking party’ – aiming for the ‘integration of working groups and actors of all kinds’ in order to ‘open politics to citizens, and to carry through common demands by coordinated action’ (European Left, 2010b ). This networking identity was a natural result of the inclinations of EL founder parties such as the PRC and Synaspismós, which were central participants in the global justice movement via the European Social Forums; after all, this movement can be conceptualised as a

in The European Left Party
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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
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The ninth direct elections to the European Parliament (EP), held in May 2019, proved a big disappointment for the European Left Party (EL). EL member parties lost ground almost everywhere and the EL's presence in the 2019–24 EP will be reduced. The EL fought the 2019 EP elections on the basis of a common manifesto. But, apart from an explicit commitment to reform and change the EU treaties, above all by inserting a social protocol, 1 it contained little new. Its commitments to democratising the EU, introducing

in The European Left Party

An important criterion by which any European TNP may be judged is, of course, its ability to formulate both a coherent party programme and agreed party policy at the European level, and to have that programme and policy endorsed by and reflected in the national platforms of its constituent parts. To the extent that the European Left Party fails to do so, it can scarcely be said to have achieved former EL President Lothar Bisky's declared goal of advancing beyond a mere conglomeration of national parties towards a genuine European party

in The European Left Party