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Renovation or resignation?

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.

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1 Introduction David J. Bailey, Jean-Michel De Waele, Fabien Escalona and Mathieu Vieira The global economic crisis (GEC) began as a housing market crisis in 2007, and rapidly developed into the subprime crisis before subsequently transforming (with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008) into a global financial crisis. From that point, it morphed into a prolonged Great Recession that has seen growth stagnate across the developed world since 2009, and has simultaneously been accompanied by the Euro-zone crisis and severe fiscal and monetary instability for

in European social democracy during the global economic crisis
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Death by a thousand cuts?

European social democracy during the global economic crisis Postface Death by a thousand cuts? Ashley Lavelle The extraordinary economic events of the past five years have put mercurial capitalism and its propensity for mass destruction on full display. Over the course of its convulsive history, capitalism has given rise to many crippling episodes of regression, with all the attendant waste of human potential: this most recent calamity began as simply one – albeit highly damaging – instance of speculative mania in a long line of such upheavals going back at

in European social democracy during the global economic crisis
The case of British Labour

financial sector, which contributed 15 per cent to GDP, compared to the 6 per cent of its German counterpart.1 Two years later the British government made it clear that it would not countenance any version of the ‘Tobin tax’ on financial transactions, when the German and French finance ministers proposed its adoption to the European Commission (Parker, 2011). One might not guess from this recent history that the British Labour Party, in common with other social democratic parties, has a long history of regarding 78 European social democracy under global economic crisis

in European social democracy during the global economic crisis

achieved. Social democracy has been one of the great success stories in modern political 44 European social democracy under global economic crisis history, but the story had its ups and downs. Success led to great variations between different national movements because each lived in institutional, economic, and sociological microclimates. Usually there weren’t enough workers to win elections and parties had to try to seduce support from middle classes who were often tepid about social democratic economism and workerism (Przeworski and Sprague, 1988). A few parties

in European social democracy during the global economic crisis

. 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 62 European social democracy under global economic crisis through retail finance is above all a crisis

in European social democracy during the global economic crisis
Why social democrats fail in the context of the great economic crisis

capitalism is making a huge impact. Quite the opposite is true, to the extent 20 European social democracy under global economic crisis that social democracy is apparently wavering between a continuing adjustment to the constraints of neo-liberal globalisation and the search for an improbable continent-wide ‘green high-tech Keynesianism’. The purpose of this chapter is therefore to explain the reasons for this situation, focusing on the relationship social democracy has forged with the capitalist economy and the European institutions. Our discussion kicks off by looking

in European social democracy during the global economic crisis

-enabling the adoption of social democratic policies through supranational regional institutions (see, for instance, Held, 2003). As such, in the light of the Great Recession, cosmopolitan social democrats might be expected to support calls for greater supranational governance, as a means by which to resolve the global economic crisis and to do so in such a way that ensures that more redistributive and/or decommodifying policies are implemented at the European level. 236 Towards a social democratic European Union? The pessimists: opposing neo-liberal Europe More

in European social democracy during the global economic crisis
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The Labour Party and the new crisis of capitalism

From its origins as a revolutionary political movement in continental Europe, social democracy has gradually become a force integrated within the capitalist order. It will be tempting to assess the extent to which the 2008 crisis has forced the Labour Party to rethink its more recent pro-market philosophy and policies. In order to achieve this, this chapter attempts to understand the impact of the new major 'crisis of capitalism' on the British economy, the third one since the beginning of the twentieth century. It then examines how the Gordon Brown government tackled the crisis from 2008 onward. Finally, the chapter discusses the extent to which Ed Miliband, the New Labour leader, is committed to breaking away from 'There is no alternative' (TINA). In terms of policy objectives, an element of the old Labour 'ethos', which Tony Blair and Gordon Brown accepted, was endured.

in European social democracy during the global economic crisis
Reflections on the erosion of a paradigmatic case of social democracy

Swedish social democracy has long since lost its hegemonic position in domestic politics. Nevertheless, the situation since 2006 is itself relevant to our understanding of the way that social democracy's capacity of action in the present suffers from a series of historical mistakes that it has performed over time. The particular historical events addressed here is the restructuring process of the 1990s. This chapter argues that the consequences of these mistakes are today actively circumscribing social democracy's capacity for reformism on the strategic as well as on the ideological level. Social democrat policy makers in Sweden and elsewhere have, at least since the 1990s, have understood the market as a central vehicle for politics and for the active building of middle-class values and individual preferences. The institutional shifts in the Swedish welfare state have been accompanied by a massive shift in resources, and in some cases important speculative effects.

in European social democracy during the global economic crisis