Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The left and the global financial crisis

The Financial Times has an article called 'Global Insight: Europe’s left is failing', which asks:

"But why should the left be doing so badly at precisely the time when raw and unregulated free-market capitalism has precipitated a global financial crisis? State intervention and regulation are returning with a vengeance. Yet the parties of the left are getting none of the credit for saying: “We told you so.”"

But is 'the left' really doing that badly in response to the global financial crisis?

In the past month, left and centre-left parties were re-elected in Norway and Portugal, and gained power in Greece. In their worst result since the 1950s in Germany, the left mustered 46%, compared to 48% for the right wing parties.

Outside of Europe, the centre left is in power in some of the world's biggest countries, from the USA to India, Brazil to Australia, South Africa to Japan. Left-wing parties recently won power for the first time in Iceland, and are cruising to re-election in Uruguay and Bolivia.

There are other countries where the Left is doing badly - France, Italy and the UK, Poland and Hungary, Canada, New Zealand and Israel (not to mention countries where left-wing campaigners run the risk of prison or worse, such as China, Russia and parts of Asia and Africa).

But there are probably now more people living in countries with left-wing governments than at any previous time in history, and the trend since the start of the economic crisis has been that more people are supporting left-wing political parties, not fewer. So those countries where the left is doing badly should look to their many successful and diverse sister parties all over the world for good ideas.


At 8:47 am , Blogger Letters From A Tory said...

The left got wiped out in many countries in the Euro elections, and it's worth pointing out that in Portugal the left were only returned to government with a considerably weakened share of the vote.

At 10:05 am , Blogger cian said...

The Democrats in the US are not centre left, at least not the vast majority of them. Centre right, mostly, as is Obama.

I think there's an argument that much of the left that has been wiped out in places like Germany and France are those who've moved to the right (the left wing of neoliberalism). The actual existing left did quite well in Germany.

At 10:25 am , Blogger donpaskini said...

LfAT - s'true the Left did very badly in the Euros in many countries. That said, people were well aware that the Euro elections don't seem to matter at all (as in, there haven't been any policies changed as a result of European voters voting for different MEPs).

cian - I don't agree at all, Obama and the Democrats are centre-left. If they held the same opinions, but lived in Britain, then they might be centre-right, but each country's political scene is different and it doesn't make sense to have absolute standards.

An anecdote to illustrate the point. The brother of one of my friends moved from Britain to Sweden in 1982, and voted in their elections. He was a Bennite, so looked through the policy positions of the different parties to see which of the Swedish parties was closest to the British Labour Left...and ended up voting for the Swedish Conservatives. It would be stretching a point to describe Tony Benn as a conservative.

At 5:56 am , Blogger Quietzapple said...

The Euro-elections are very widely regarded as a channel for a protest vote.

Here people tend to protest against HMG AND Europe.

UKIP fulfills both requirements, and so in 2005 the Tories got their lowest share of the vote in ANY UK General Election (local, or Parliamentary) since 1830 or so, and in 2009 the Second lowest share they have had in that period.

People have got used to enjoying blaming Europe. I think we would vote to stay in if the question is put.


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