A comeback for the left?
Not much has been heard from leftist parties like Syriza and Podemos recently. Instead the discourse has been dominated by the debate about the rise of the right-wing populists. But in the year of the European elections and in view of the election campaign kicking off in the US, journalists are increasingly asking whether left-wing politics will experience a revival.
RIght-wing populists can't deliver
The left will soon experience a renaissance, columnist Wolfgang Münchau predicts in the Financial Times:
“For now, the right is thriving on the anti-immigration backlash. ... I suspect that immigration will soon be superseded by other issues - such as the impact of artificial intelligence on middle-class livelihoods; rising levels of poverty; and economic dislocation stemming from climate change. This is a political environment that favours the radical left over the radical right. The right is not interested in poverty and its parties are full of climate-change deniers. Some of the rightwing populists may speak the language of the working classes, but the left is more likely to deliver.”
Social democratic cocktail popular with voters
Instead of relying on populism the left should do left-wing policies, writes Jan-Werner Müller, professor of politics at Princeton University, in Der Tagesspiegel:
“So far the left has been successful when it offered clear alternatives on issues like housing policy and financial regulation, not when it cited 'the people' (or even 'the nation'). Think, for example, of the leader of the British Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, and Bernie Sanders, the independent senator who led a grass-roots campaign against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primaries and is running again in the 2020 elections. What these people propose is not 'socialism' but a social democratic cocktail that could be popular with all those who have had enough of Pepsi, Coke and all the other neoliberal slush that is on offer.”
Post-party hangover mode
L'Opinion takes a very differt view:
“Syriza's call to financial orthodoxy allowed Greece to remain in the EU. The Greek economy is reviving but Alexis Tsipras's party is now trailing the conservatives in the polls. In Spain Podemos's crisis is escalating by the day. Nationalist temptations, demagogy in the primary elections and the difficulty of finding a transition from panning to planning are tearing the party apart. In France Jean-Luc Mélenchon's party has lost its appeal due to its leader's worrying mood swings and above all the lack of a programme that goes farther than protest. As Barcelona political science professor Cesáreo Rodríguez-Aguilera de Prat put it: 'Protest in France focuses around Marine Le Pen and not around the alternative left.'”