September 12, 2010

From Revolution to Coalition: Radical Left Parties in Europe

Birgit Daiber, Cornelia Hildebrandt & Anna Striethorst

In recent years the European party landscape has fundamentally changed. One principal reason behind this development has been the dissolution of many social milieus, taking with them the existing, often lifelong identification of citizens with one party. As a result, the percentage of so-called “swing” voters has increased significantly. A second reason behind this development has been that many European countries have seen a rapid rise of right-wing radical and neo-fascist parties. Finally, the impact of the recent financial and economic crisis has massively shaken up the political structure in the most affected countries, particularly in Greece.

This upheaval has also caught parties on the left. Against the backdrop of diverse national conditions and political-cultural traditions, the faces of parties on the left of social democracy have changed. The spectrum now ranges from left-socialist to far left-libertarian and green-alternative formations to more or less traditional communist parties.

This 2011 book analyzes the European Left on two levels. In the first part, six comparative studies across multiple countries discuss important subjects like the fragmentation and pluralism of leftist parties in Europe, their current issues and internal debates, their respective political positions in Europe as well as members and the electorate.

The book’s second part contains a sample analysis of 13 parties that make up the very diverse spectrum of the European Left. Here, the analysis addresses the development of the parties, their politics and self-conception, and their strategies and programs.