What′s Left of the Left

Democrats and Social Democrats in Challenging Times

What′s Left of the Left

Book Pages: 424 Illustrations: 18 tables Published: August 2011

European Studies > History of Europe, Politics > Political Science

In What’s Left of the Left, distinguished scholars of European and U.S. politics consider how center-left political parties have fared since the 1970s. They explore the left’s responses to the end of the postwar economic boom, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the erosion of traditional party politics, the expansion of market globalization, and the shift to a knowledge-based economy. Their comparative studies of center-left politics in Scandinavia, France, Germany, southern Europe, post–Cold War Central and Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States emphasize differences in the goals of left political parties and in the political, economic, and demographic contexts in which they operate. The contributors identify and investigate the more successful center-left initiatives, scrutinizing how some conditions facilitated them, while others blocked their emergence or limited their efficacy. In the contemporary era of slow growth, tight budgets, and rapid technological change, the center-left faces pressing policy concerns, including immigration, the growing population of the working poor, and the fate of the European Union. This collection suggests that such matters present the left with daunting but by no means insurmountable challenges.

Contributors. Sheri Berman, James Cronin, Jean-Michel de Waele, Arthur Goldhammer, Christopher Howard, Jane Jenson, Gerassimos Moschonas, Sofia Pérez, Jonas Pontusson, George Ross, James Shoch, Sorina Soare, Ruy Teixeira


“[D]istinguished scholars offer reflections on the past struggles and accomplishments of left-leaning parties in Europe and the United States and speculate about their future. . . . The book makes the important point that as advanced societies navigate the current moment of global economic uncertainty, liberals and social democrats have a new opportunity to regroup and rethink policies that promote economic security and social justice.” — G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs

“This book provides a timely update of much of this literature… that will be of particular use to students seeking to get up to speed with the empirical and historical development of social democracy in these particular concrete contexts. Most of the chapters also bring this concrete discussion further up to date than it currently is in most other existing literature on social democratic parties.” — David Bailey, West European Politics

"In addition to its historical scope, What’s Left sets itself apart from the rest of its genre by including three chapters on the U.S. (regarding the Democratic Party’s evolving coalition, the American welfare state, and U.S. trade policy), making the point that the experiences of the American and European lefts are similar enough that the 'Democrats and social democrats' of the book’s subtitle have much to learn from one another."  — Geoffrey Kurtz, Logos

What’s Left of the Left provides the best synthetic overview available of center-left parties in Europe and the United States. Focusing on their development and fortunes since the 1970s, this collection fills a striking gap in the literature in a knowledgeable and informative way” — Peter A. Hall, coeditor of Changing France: The Politics That Markets Make

“This is an important book. It is thorough. It is balanced. It is judicious. Its verdict on the prospects for the left is severe and offers no consolation prizes, yet it makes no facile predictions. It locates the present crisis of the left in a wider perspective, with a series of intelligent comparative essays buttressed by equally intelligent essays focusing on specific regions or issues. It pays abundant attention, as it should, to the United States, too often overlooked in such surveys. Above all, it refuses to simplify complex issues and complex problems.” — Donald Sassoon, author of One Hundred Years of Socialism: The West European Left in the Twentieth Century


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

James Cronin is Professor of History at Boston College and an affiliate of the Center for European Studies at Harvard University.

George Ross is ad personam Chaire Jean Monnet at the University of Montreal, Hillquit Professor in Labor and Social Thought Emeritus at Brandeis University, and Faculty Associate of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University.

James Shoch is Associate Professor of Government at California State University, Sacramento.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: The New World of the Center-Left / James Cronin, George Ross, and James Shoch 1

Part I: Ideas, Projects, and Electoral Realities

Social Democracy's Past and Potential Future / Sheri Berman 29

Historical Decline or Change of Scale? The Electoral Dynamics of European Social Democratic Parties, 1950–2009 / Gerassimos Moschonas 50

Part II: Varieties of Social Democracy and Liberalism

Once Again a Model: Nordic Social Democracy in a Globalized World / Jonas Pontusson 89

Embracing Markets, Bonding with America, Trying to Do Good: The Ironies of New Labour / James Cronin 116

Reluctantly Center-Left? The French Case / Arthur Goldhammer and George Ross 141

The Evolving Democratic Coalition: Prospects and Problems / Ruy Teixeira 162

Party Politics and the American Welfare State / Christopher Howard 188

Grappling with Globalization: The Democratic Party's Struggles over International Market Integration / James Shoch 210

Part III: New Risks, New Challenges, New Possibilities

European Center-Left Parties and New Social Risks: Facing Up to New Policy Challenges / Jane Jenson 241

Immigration and the European Left / Sofía Pérez 265

The Central and Eastern European Left: A Political Family under Construction / Jean-Michel De Waele and Sorina Soare 290

European Center-Lefts and the Mazes of European Integration / George Ross 319

Conclusion: Progressive Politics in Tough Times / James Cronin, George Ross, and James Shoch 343

Bibliography 363

About the Contributors 395

Index 399
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5079-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5061-3
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