Social Democracy: Global and National Perspectives

Social Democracy: Global and National Perspectives

Social Democracy: Global and National Perspectives

Social Democracy: Global and National Perspectives

Synopsis

Leading scholars look at how the policies, meaning and ideology of social democracy are changing and the context for this change. The contributors analyze developments in social democracy against the background of globalization, Europeanization, and different national traditions.

Excerpt

Francis McGowan

In the summer of 1997, following the victories of Tony Blair and Lionel Jospin, there was much speculation that the trajectory of European integration would take a leftward turn. Speculation had turned to expectation a year later with the election of Gerhard Schröder’s SPD, bringing to 13 the number of governments either led by or including centre-left parties in the European Union (EU). For some, this shift in the centre of political gravity raised the prospect of a turn away from the neoliberal policies which had prevailed at the EU level since the mid-1980s towards a more social democratic agenda. However, the following months were to demonstrate the difficulties in reorientating the EU, and by the time of the 1999 European Parliament elections (which reversed the small majority already enjoyed by the centre left in that institution), it appeared less and less likely that the coincidence of so many centre-left governments would change the character of EU policies. On the contrary it appeared that the economic orientation of European integration and its embodiment in the rules, institutions and policies of the EU was not only a constraint upon European social democracy but was also contributing to its redefinition.

In this chapter we put these developments into the context of how social democracy and European integration have evolved, or ‘co-evolved’, in the postwar – and post-Cold War – era. Coevolved because, on the one hand, social democrat parties and politicians have been important protagonists in the EU and have helped to shape it (though not as much as their domestic strength might have merited) while, on

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