The left-wing is in disarray world-wide.
We are witnessing the demise of the once proud Labour party in New Zealand, and world-wide the left-wing seems in disarray. This is particularly obvious in Europe.
Early in this century you could drive from Inverness in Scotland to Vilnius in Lithuania without crossing a country governed by the right; the same would have been true if you had done the trip by ferry through Scandinavia. Social democrats ran the European Commission and vied for primacy in the European Parliament. But recently their share of the vote in domestic (and Europe-wide) elections has fallen by a third to lows not seen for 70 years (see chart 1). In the five European Union (EU) states that held national elections last year, social democrats lost power in Denmark, fell to their worst-ever results in Finland, Poland and Spain and came to within a hair’s-breadth of such a nadir in Britain.
Elsewhere, it is true, the centre left is in power: as an unloved and ideologically vague junior party of government in Germany and the Netherlands and at the helm of wobbly coalitions in Sweden, Portugal and Austria, all countries where it was once a natural party of government. In France, President François Hollande is plumbing new depths of unpopularity and may not make the run-off in next year’s presidential election. Matteo Renzi, Italy’s dynamic prime minister, is in better shape but his party is still losing support (and possibly, in May, Rome’s mayoralty) to the Five Star Movement (M5S), an anti-establishment party founded by a blogger. Former municipal and regional bastions like London and Amsterdam, Catalonia and Scotland have slipped from the traditional centre left’s grasp.
Where are all the votes going? Many have been hoovered up by populists, typically of the anti-market left in southern Europe and the anti-migrant right in the north. But alternative left parties (feminists, pirates and greens, for example), liberals and the centre-right have also benefited. And so has the Stay On The Sofa party.