International round up
With things going so appalling badly for Labour here in Britain, here's a top ten of successful centre-left parties, to cheer us up a bit. Some are in government and coping with the economic crisis while making their countries fairer and more equal, while others are in opposition and poised to win back power. In a sign of the vitality of social democratic and socialist ideas, these examples are drawn from countries on six different continents with a population of more than 1.5 billion people:
1. India (Congress, Manmohan Singh). Where better to start than with the world's largest democracy. India's ruling Congress-led coalition was re-elected today for a second term. Congress politicians described the surge in nationwide support as a vote for the party's pro-poor measures. Analysts also thought the vote for Congress was also a vote for clean politics, with a leader who has a strong reputation as an uncorrupt politician, in a political arena tarnished by serious corruption scandals.
2. Iceland (Social Democratic Alliance, Johanna Sigurðardóttir). The elections in April saw the election of the Social Democrats and Left-Green Alliance, after voters kicked out the Independence Party whose right-wing economic policies had caused a massive banking crisis.
3. South Africa (African National Congress, Jacob Zuma). Despite some disillusionment with the African National Congress and their new leader Jacob Zuma, the ANC won more than 64% for the fourth election in a row in recent elections.
4. Australia (Labour, Kevin Rudd). Elected in 2007, Rudd's Labour Party has maintained its popularity despite the economic crisis, with 47% support in recent opinion polls.
5. Uruguay (Progressive Encounter - Broad Front, Tabare Vazquez). In 2004, Uruguay elected a leftist President for the first time ever. With election coming up later this year, they look on course to hold power, with 45% support, 10% clear of the right-wing opposition.
6. USA (Democratic, Barack Obama). Obama is viewed favourably by more than two-thirds of Americans, and the Democrats remain much more popular than the Republicans.
7. Portugal (Socialist, Jose Socrates). With elections coming up this year, the governing Socialist Party has a big lead over its main rivals.
8. Czech Republic (Social Democratic, Jiří Paroubek). Centre-left parties are doing extremely badly in most of Eastern Europe, most notably in Hungary where the governing Social Democrats are more than 50% (!) behind their main challengers. But in the Czech Republic, the Social Democrats have a small lead ahead of elections in October.
9. Norway (Jens Stoltenberg, Labour). The Labour government in Norway has a lead over its rivals, and has actually gained in popularity over the past few months.
10. Bolivia (Evo Morales). Morales has been pushing through radical change on behalf of the disadvantaged majority in Bolivia. His popularity has been increasing in recent months, up to 53% in recent polls.