Regimes, Politics, and Markets: Democratization and Economic Change in Southern and Eastern Europe

By José María Maravall; Justin Byrne | Go to book overview

4
The Economic Identity of the Left

To what extent did the growing convergence of economic policies erase the differences between distinct political options? Did leftwing governments accentuate the redistributive tendencies of the new democracies? How far was social democracy able to represent a political alternative with a distinctive identity? How was this identity affected by social democracy coming to power in newly established democracies? In order to answer these questions, in this chapter I will examine the programmes and policies of the Southern European socialist parties, and compare them with the experience of European social democracy. I will study the Spanish PSOE, the Greek PASOK, the Portuguese PS, the Italian PSI, and the French PS. In the first three cases, democracy was a recent development, the result of transitions from authoritarian regimes in the 1970s. In the other two countries, democracy had been re-established at the end of the Second World War. Three of the parties -- namely the PSOE, the French PS, and the PASOK -- first formed governments in 1981 or 1982 with absolute parliamentary majorities and after a long period of exclusion from power. In contrast, with the exception of the short-lived period of singleparty socialist rule in Portugal from the elections in 1976 to the end of the following year, the Portuguese and Italian parties formed part of coalition governments during the 1980s. Moreover, although a socialist held the post of prime minister in Italy between 1983 and 1987, the PSI was always the junior partner in these coalitions. The comparative analysis of these parties' policies, therefore, will have a géométrie variable. Given that the performance of coalition governments cannot easily be considered to exemplify socialist policies at work, I will focus above all on the Spanish, French, and Greek cases.

My first hypothesis is that ideology affects policies. In other

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