Despite the near-irrelevancy of social democratic parties elsewhere in Europeby Chris Hanretty / June 19, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
To grasp quite how remarkable a feat the UK Labour Party pulled off by adding 10 points to its vote share, and bursting through 40 per cent of the ballot, it is necessary to place its performance in context. Across Europe social democracy—and for all the charges of Marxist extremism thrown at Jeremy Corbyn, his “spend more money on the welfare state” manifesto was resoundingly social democratic—has long been on the slide.
At the start of May, the average share of the vote won by social democratic parties in the most recent parliamentary elections in western European countries was 23 per cent. Despite the stunning advance by Labour, the simultaneous collapse of the French Socialists in the June Parliamentary elections was so dramatic that this average is now set to fall further, to around 22 per cent. This European average is the lowest it has been in the post-war period, and is down from a high of 34 per cent, back in 1999. The serious rot has set in only very recently: until 2010, the average had never dipped below 30 per cent.