Radical Left Parties in Europe
By Luke March
Routledge – 2011 – 274 pages
Series: Extremism and Democracy
What has happened to the European radical left after the collapse of the USSR? How has it reacted, reformed, even revived? This new volume is one of the first to provide an overview of the main developments in contemporary European radical left parties (those defining themselves as to the left of, and not merely on the left of social democracy), which are now an increasingly visible phenomenon in European party politics. Unlike many of the existing studies it focuses on communist and non-communist parties, addresses their non-parliamentary and international activity, and takes a pan-European perspective, focusing on both Eastern and Western Europe.
March focuses on key contemporary left parties, the nature of their radicalism and their ideological and strategic positions, and overall, addresses their current dynamics and immediate electoral prospects. The book argues that radical left parties are still afflicted by existential crises about the nature of ‘socialism’, and the future of communist parties in particular is under threat. The most successful left parties are no longer extremist, but present themselves as defending values and policies that social democrats have allegedly abandoned, focus on pragmatism rather than ideology and increasingly orientate themselves towards government.
Providing a significant contribution to existing literature in the field, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of comparative politics, political parties and radical politics.
1. Introduction 2. From Communist Crisis to Post-Communist Mutation 3. The West European Communists: Perpetual Crisis? 4. The Fall and (Partial) Rise of the Eastern European Communists 5. Modern Democratic Socialists or Old-Style Social Democrats? 6. Left-Wing Populism: Populist Socialists and Social Populists 7. Transnational Party Organizations: Towards a New International? 8. Parties and the Wider Movement 9. Explaining Electoral Success and Failure with Charlotte Rommerskirchen 10. Conclusion
Luke March is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests include European left parties and post-Soviet politics.