European Left Down But Not Dead
The magnitude of the win of Angela Merkel’s coalition, coming on the heels of a center-right romp in the recent European Parliament elections and the ouster of several conservative governments in recent months, has spawned much hand-wringing about the decline of Europe’s Left.
I round up and analyze some of this commentary in my New Atlanticist essay, “Whither Europe’s Left?”
Ultimately, I view this as a cyclical rather than an ideological phenomenon.
Even the most moribund opposition parties will eventually find a charismatic leader to capitalize on the public’s fatigue with the governing party. Republicans have dominated the presidency during my lifetime, winning 7 of 11 elections going back to Nixon’s landslide in 1968. But, every time it looks like the Democrats are a permanent minority party, they either come up with a particularly dynamic leader (see Clinton, Bill and Obama, Barack) or they capitalize on Republican hubris (see, Carter, Jimmy and Obama, Barack).
Just when the American Democratic Party seemed to be too left-leaning and out-of-touch on the issues, Clinton and company rebranded them as “New Democrats.” Margaret Thatcher and John Major and the British Tories held the reins of power for 18 years before Tony Blair and “New Labour” won a landslide victory; they’ve now held power a dozen years and are running aground.
It’s a virtual certainty that Europe’s center-left parties and America’s Republicans will, in the not-too-distant future, win back control of their respective governments. And it’s an absolute certainty that, when they do, they’ll do so on decidedly different platforms than the last time they did so.
What do you think?