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
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
Left Europeanists and Left national sovereigntists.
Secondly, we seek to illustrate some of the important factors, both internal and external to RLPs, that have helped shape the evolution of their European integration policies. In so doing, we both adopt and adapt the useful schema developed by Benedetto and Quaglia ( 2007 ).
Thirdly, we seek to examine the experience and ultimate failure of attempts at RLP co-operation inside the EP prior to the launch of the GUE/NGL confederal group in the early 1990s. We do so
Does European integration contribute to, or even accelerate, the erosion of intra-party democracy? This book is about improving our understanding of political parties as democratic organisations in the context of multi-level governance. It analyses the impact of European Union (EU) membership on power dynamics, focusing on the British Labour Party, the French Socialist Party (PS), and the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). The purpose of this book is to investigate who within the three parties determines EU policies and selects EU specialists, such as the candidates for European parliamentary elections and EU spokespersons. The book utilises a principal-agent framework to investigate the delegation of power inside the three parties across multiple levels and faces. It draws on over 65 original interviews with EU experts from the three national parties and the Party of European Socialists (PES) and an e-mail questionnaire. This book reveals that European policy has largely remained in the hands of the party leadership. Its findings suggest that the party grassroots are interested in EU affairs, but that interest rarely translates into influence, as information asymmetry between the grassroots and the party leadership makes it very difficult for local activists to scrutinise elected politicians and to come up with their own policy proposals. As regards the selection of EU specialists, such as candidates for the European parliamentary elections, this book highlights that the parties’ processes are highly political, often informal, and in some cases, undemocratic.
Netherlands merged into the GreenLeft in 1989). Such was the disarray that for some analysts communist parties were no longer even conceivable as a coherent party family (Bull, 1994 ).
Internationally, too, the omens were not good. For a long time, as the previous chapter demonstrated, the European communist parties’ position vis-à-vis the EU could be regarded as reflecting a negative critique rather than a positive vision of a post-capitalist Europe, with prevalent divisions between national sovereigntists and Left Europeanists hamstringing the development of the latter
This book examines how the Europeanleft 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
Centre-left parties and the European Union
Does European integration contribute to, or even accelerate, the erosion of intra-
party democracy? This book is about improving our understanding of political parties as democratic organisations in the context of multi-level governance.
More specifically, it analyses the impact of European Union (EU) membership
on intra-party power dynamics. The book takes as its focus the British Labour
Party, the French Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste, PS), and the German Social
Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische
Centre-left parties and the European
Union: what next?
Does European integration contribute to, or even accelerate, the erosion of
intra-party democracy? This book has provided an insight into the dynamic
power relationships inside the British Labour Party, the French Socialist Party,
and the German Social Democratic Party. It has demonstrated that European
integration –as an external constraint –cannot be held solely responsible for
the erosion of intra-party democracy. Rather, the three centre-left parties have
(to varying degrees) missed the
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 Europeanleft. In short, the purpose of this chapter is two-fold: to consider how the organisational structures and policy-making processes of
contention and concern for the Europeanleft, 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