The European Radical Left after the Great Recession: the Missing Great Leap Forward?

Luke March (University of Edinburgh) speaks at the GRASS research seminar.

Date: 21-02-2017
Time: 14:00 - 15:30

Until 2015, European radical left parties had a mediocre crisis. Despite the crisis of neoliberalism validating some of their core arguments, and promising to bring them into the mainstream, their electoral growth was patchy, with every advance offset by a defeat. 2015 appeared to change this, with a stunning victory for the Greek Syriza, the emergence of the ‘new left populist party’ Podemos, and the victory of Jeremy Corbyn, a socialist storming the citadel of Third Way social democracy.

What is the current state of the radical left? Has the Great Recession given it a lasting boost? Will the 2015 advances prove sustainable?

This talk provides a longer-term overview of the opportunities and constraints for the radical left. It reveals that it us now a stable actor in many party systems, and has become a principal challenger to mainstream social democratic parties. However, the party family has not fully overcome its own communist-era crisis and possesses some persistent weaknesses, above all still-salient ideological and strategic conflicts and the inability to transcend social democracy, in the absence of which it remains a protest tendency within a decaying tradition.

Prof. Luke March has numerous research interests: the politics of the former Soviet Union (especially Russian and Moldovan politics, political parties in the FSU, democratisation and institution-building), the radical left in Europe, populism, communism and Russian nationalism. He spent much of the late 1990s working on the communist left in the former USSR, in particular its ideological and organisational development and influence on democratisation. This research led to several publications including The Communist Party in Post-Soviet Russia (Manchester University Press, 2002), which received a five-star review from Political Studies. His last book, Radical Left Parties in Europe was published by Routledge in December 2011.  His next book will be Europe's Radical Left: From  Marginality  to the Mainstream (edited, with Dan Keith, Rowman and Littlefield, September 2016). He is also working on the Palgrave Handbook of the Radical Left with Fabien Escalona and Mathieu Vieira (Palgrave 2017).

Location: Hillary Place SR (LG.01)
Cost: Free