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Post-Covid, the West needs to reassess how to make social democracy work better

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The 2008 banking crisis led citizens in Western democratic countries to massively lose faith in their political systems and their political leaders – especially those for whom the system was clearly not working.

In the UK, they were named ‘the left behind’ in an effort to explain Brexit. And then the election of Donald Trump in the US put the focus onto the rust belt communities, meaning – for the first time in a long while – there were discussions in the USA about class inequality.

In mainland Europe, we saw the massive and underreported gilets jaunes movement in France, where millions of working class people protested in the streets in high-vis jackets for a year. They were rightly concerned that their voices were not being heard by Emmanuelle Macron’s somewhat elite style of leadership.

And even the politics that came out of the pushback on austerity for the poor and tax giveaways in bailouts for the rich, following 2008, lost their way. Despite the rise and subsequent election of Syriza in Greece, and the promise of hope and change, trust was lost and it was ousted from office.

Now we are easing our way out of the pandemic, and daring to contemplate what our ‘new normals’ will look like. After the 18 months we have just had, I believe those of us in Western democracies are also reflecting on those noughties politicians, political decisions, and the societies they were shaping – and asking what it is that we want now?

After World War II, Western democracies threw everything they had into the project of social democracy. They embraced the idea that society had a right to free and open democratic elections, a right to engage in the political system, free speech, access to a free press, and human rights.

They encouraged the idea that there should be safety nets for everyone with regard to social goods, healthcare, housing, and education paid for through Keynesian economics – the belief that governments are best placed to invest in their societies, and that a healthy society for all is a wealthy society for all. This........

© RT.com

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