John Harris – Does the left have a future?

There is more than one spectre haunting modern Europe: terrorism, the revival of the far right, the instability of Turkey, the fracturing of the EU project. And in mainstream politics, all across the continent, the traditional parties of the left are in crisis.

In Germany, the Social Democratic party, once a titanic party of government, has fallen below 20% in the national polls. In France, François Hollande’s ratings hover at around 15%, while the Spanish Socialist Workers’ party has seen its support almost halve in less than a decade.

The decline of Greece’s main social democratic party, which fell from winning elections to under 5% in less than a decade, was so rapid that it spawned a new word, “pasokification”, for the collapse of traditional centre-left parties. Even in Scandinavia, once-invincible parties of social democracy have been hit by increasingly disaffected voters, as rightwing populists stoke anxiety about immigration and its impact on the welfare state.

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