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Why the Left Loses: The Decline of the Centre-Left in Comparative Perspective

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Social Democracy is on the back-foot, and increasingly centre-left political parties are struggling to win office. Bringing together a range of leading academics and experts on social democratic politics and policy, Why the left loses offers an international, comparative view of the changing political landscape, examining the degree to which the centre-left project is exhausted and is able to renew its message in a neo-liberal age.

Using case studies from the UK, Germany, Spain, France, Australia and New Zealand contributors argue that despite different local and specific contexts, the mainstream centre-left is beset by a range of common challenges. Analysis focuses on institutional and structural factors, the role of key individuals, especially party leaders, and the atrophy of progressive ideas in explaining why the centre-left is currently in retreat. Why the Left Loses is aimed at stimulating wider debate about the fortunes of the centre-left.

Author: Kennedy Paul
Publisher: POLICY PRESS
Pages: 240
ISBN: 9781447332695
Cover: Paperback
Edition Number: 1
Release Year: 2018

Foreword ~ Sheri Berman

Why the left loses: understanding the comparative decline of the centre-left ~ Rob Manwaring and Paul Kennedy

Part 1: The centre-left in the Anglosphere

The case of the British Labour Party: back to the wilderness ~ Rob Manwaring and Matt Beech

Electoral competition in Canada among centre-left parties: liberals versus social democracts ~ David McGrane

The ‘soft target’ of Labour in New Zealand ~ Grant Duncan

Australian social democracy: capitalist constraints and the challenges of equality ~ Carol Johnson

Exit left: the case of Australian state Labor ~ Rob Manwaring

Part 2: The centre-left in Western Europe

Germany: little hope in times of crisis ~ Uwe Jun

The Swedish Social Democrats and the ‘new Swedish model’: playing a losing game ~ Claes Belfrage and Mikko Kuisma

Between a rock and a hard place in Spain: the PSOE ~ Paul Kennedy

The French Parti socialiste (2010-16): from office to crisis ~ Sophie Di Francesco-Mayot

Part 3: Conclusion: Why the left loses

The end of revisionism? ~ Chris Pierson

Social democracy and the populist challenge ~ Rene Cuperus

The dilemmas of social democracy ~ Paul Kennedy and Rob Manwaring

Rob Manwaring is a Senior Lecturer at Flinders University, in South Australia.

Paul Kennedy is a Lecturer in Spanish and European Studies at the University of Bath, UK.

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