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The Siren Song of Left-Wing Populism

15 31 16

SANTIAGO – Social democratic parties around the world are struggling. In France’s 2017 presidential election, the candidate for the Socialists – once the mainstream party of the French left – received a mere 6% of the vote, and the party has since been forced to sell its headquarters on the chic Rue de Solférino in Paris.

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Likewise, Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) gained just 20% of the vote in that country’s federal election last fall – the party’s worst showing in the postwar period. And the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) secured just over 20% of the vote in the 2015 and 2016 general elections, which is half the share it received a decade ago.

Meanwhile, in each of these countries, left-wing populist parties have been capturing a significant share of the vote. Twenty percent of French voters cast ballots for Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) in 2017; 9% of Germans voted for Die Linke (The Left); and 21% of Spaniards backed Podemos.

A growing number of pundits and academics now believe that left-wing populism is the best strategy for returning the left to........

© Project Syndicate