This book makes an important contribution to the existing literature on European social democracy in the wake of the 2008 financial crash and ensuing recession. It considers ways in which European social democratic parties at both the national and European level have responded to the global economic crisis (GEC). The book also considers the extent to which the authors might envisage alternatives to the neo-liberal consensus being successfully promoted by those parties within the European Union (EU). The book first explores some of the broader thematic issues underpinning questions of the political economy of social democracy during the GEC. Then, it addresses some of the social democratic party responses that have been witnessed at the level of the nation state across Europe. The book focuses in particular on some of the countries with the longest tradition of social democratic and centre-left party politics, and therefore focuses on western and southern Europe. In contrast to the proclaimed social democratic (and especially Party of European Socialists) ambitions, the outcomes witnessed at the EU level have been less promising for those seeking a supranational re-social democratization. In order to understand the EU-level response of social democratic party actors to the Great Recession, the book situates social democratic parties historically. In the case of the British Labour Party, it also identifies the absence of ideological alternatives to the 'there is no alternative' (TINA)-logic that prevailed under the leadership of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
. Nor is it due to ephemeral factors such as uninspiring leadership
or the cumulative effect of incumbency (although these factors are real enough
and hardly helpful). The political absence of social democracy stems rather from
more long-standing and organic ideological sources. Indeed, one could go so far
as to argue that the financial crisis that in the 1990s and the 2000s sought to
articulate high finance to increasingly commodified forms of welfare provision
Europeansocialdemocracy under global economic crisis
through retail finance is above all a crisis
blamed them for the economic recession that followed those austerity measures and condemned them to the opposition.
In the process, these parties lost their credibility as efficient and safe managers of the
But Europeansocialdemocracy is not merely suffering from a crisis of credibility. It is also suffering from an identity and ideological crisis. What had been social
democracy’s economic paradigm for over a decade was reduced to smithereens with
the collapse of Lehman Brothers on Wall Street. As the old certainties floundered on
Wall Street and in the City
the votes of the rising professional middle class, and fully embracing the West as the Cold War took shape. The transformation of Europeansocialdemocracy from its traditional notion of gradual movement toward socialism via reforms to a new positive embrace of capitalism was a reflection of the relative prosperity of the period.
In this context, leading social-democratic theorist C. A. R. Crosland argued in the mid-1950s, capitalism had become a corporatist, technocratic, welfare state with its “modern, enlightened methods of personnel management” and “humanized
War. This analysis was strongly
informed by the postwar perception of Britain’s industrial decline and its relation
to an imperial and post-imperial global financial role serving the interests of the
City of London. Madeleine Davis (chapter 3) focuses on the New Left’s idea of
‘labourism’, a venerable notion given new life by this analysis. Mark WickhamJones (chapter 6) looks at one of the assumptions underpinning that concept:
Labour’s supposed isolation from the rest of Europeansocialdemocracy. Both,
however, consider the shifting political projects of the New
Lees-Galloway, I. (2009). ‘There are alternatives to explore’, Transnational Institute, May,
available at: www.tni.org/archives/media_manawatu0509.
McCluskey, L. (2012). ‘Ed Miliband’s leadership is threatened by this Blairite policy
coup’, Guardian, 16 January.
Marlière, P. (1999). ‘Introduction: Europeansocialdemocracy in situ’, in R. Ladrech
and P. Marlière (eds), Social Democratic Parties in the European Union: History,
Organization, Policies (Basingstoke: Macmillan), pp. 1–15.
Marlière, P. (2008). La social-démocratie domestiquée: La voie blairiste
an average annual income of more than $7.1 million. In 1974 the average income
for the same top 0.1 percent was just over $1 million. Its share of the national
income therefore grew from 2.7 percent in 1974 to 12.3 percent in 2007, a more
than fourfold increase. Who are the people in these rarefied levels? For the most
part they are rich corporate executives.15
Outside the US and the UK, the concentration of income and wealth diminishes considerably, notably in the Europeansocialdemocracies. Consider the top
1 percent income group’s share of national income in
This chapter argues that social democracy is more robust than defenders of the new social democracy (NSD) imagine. The NSD represents an important strand in recent Centre-Left developments, but it is simplistic to imagine that the ‘old’ social democracy has been discredited. It argues that the difficulties the NSD faces are best addressed not by the productivist form of social democracy but by a post-productivist one. This chapter also analyses the strong and weak versions of the ‘social democracy is dead’ argument and evaluates the health of European social democracy.
This book outlines the reasons for the development of and need for social democracy and the welfare state. It begins with the reaffirmation that post-2008 Anglo-America has seen the greatest concentration of wealth since the Great Depression, some nine decades earlier. The book reviews the thought of classical liberals like Adam Smith, democratic theorists like Alexis De Tocqueville and Matthew Arnold, and early social democrats like John Stuart Mill and Beatrice Webb. It further details the reasons for the derailing of the welfare state. Milton Friedman's ideas about the free market were institutionalized by Ronald Reagan in the US and Margaret Thatcher in the UK, both of whom dismantled the welfare state, or as much of it as possible. The book talks about the collapse of the Grand Narrative of the Left in the 1980s and 1990s. How this led to the 'great forgetting' in Anglo-America, and to a lesser extent in continental European social democracies and welfare states as well, is discussed. The book argues that 'forgetting' the past success of social democracy has been costly. It highlights that globalization does not explain unemployment in Anglo-America; nor is it the cause of inequality in either the US or the UK. A comparison of Anglo-America's social model with the European social model of the welfare and social democratic states of continental Europe, follows. Even with the high unemployment rates of the European Union, most of Europe is still as economically efficient as the US and the UK.
massive decline in electoral
Europeansocialdemocracy during the global economic crisis
support for PASOK in Greece. In the view of many observers, social democratic
parties have responded (or, rather, failed to respond) to the global economic
crisis (GEC) with a continuation of the capitulation to neo-liberalism that also
characterised the social democratic party family during the pre-2007 period. This
coexists with a corresponding inability by social democratic parties to appeal to
an electorate that desires a coherent and progressive alternative.