Presentation on theme: "Social Democratic parties Alistair Cole. Historical origins and development of social-democracy. The original social ‑ democratic parties were formed."— Presentation transcript:
Historical origins and development of social-democracy. The original social ‑ democratic parties were formed as class ‑ based parties which attempted to represent the interests of a particular fraction of the population, namely the industrial proletariat. During the late nineteenth century, social-democratic and socialist parties developed throughout western Europe in the main committed - at least verbally - to a Marxist ideology. These parties nearly all contained a commitment in their party statutes to the overthrow of the capitalist system. This commitment was largely verbal, especially after the fundamental split caused by the October 1917 Bolshevik revolution. The 1917 revolution weakened social-democratic parties by creating new uncompromising rivals to their left, in the form of the communist parties. In Germany, the divisions between the SPD and the KPD (especially the ‘class against class’ tactics of Stalin’s Comintern) facilitated Hitler’s rise to power. In France, the ‘bolshevisation’ of the PCF in the 1920s (Tiersky, 1972) and the hatred of social-democracy prevented any rapprochement between the left parties until the 1936 Popular Front. Only in the UK, where the primary competition was between Labour and the Liberals, was the structural division of the left less endemic and detrimental.
French Socialists French socialism maintained an equally ambiguous relationship to governmental office. The first unified French Socialist party - the Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière (SFIO) of 1905- was formed on the orders of the Second International as a revolutionary party, in total opposition to bourgeois society. Though the pre-1914 SFIO fought elections, voted for progressive legislation, and ran many municipal councils, its ideological identity as an opposition party was of crucial importance in the young SFIO’s life (Judt, 1974). As in Germany, the 1917 Revolution caused a fundamental schism within the French left: initially marginal, the French communist party (PCF) gradually became the stronger leftwing party from mid-1940s to mid-1970s. In order to support its claim to be the legitimate heir to the original 1905 party, the socialist SFIO continued to declare itself a revolutionary Marxist party. The Popular Front government of 1936 finally buried the SFIO’s ‘non-participation’ doctrine when, under Léon Blum, the SFIO headed the first Socialist-led government in French history. However heroic in retrospect, the Popular Front government was short-lived (1936-37), and suffered from a chronic lack of cohesion, on account of PCF ambivalence and left-wing opposition to Blum’s economic policy, the pace of reforms and whether or not to intervene in the Spanish civil war.
German SPD The archetypal social ‑ democratic party, which many others imitated, was the German SPD, created in 1875. Faithful to the dictates of the Second International (and the doctrine of 'no participation in bourgeois governments’), the SPD developed as a powerful counter- society until 1914. With its powerful links to the labour movement, the SPD could claim to be the organisational expression of the working class. It evolved a class-based identity based on the dual pillars of theoretical Marxism as a cohesive cognitive code, and a linkage to organised labour through the party’s trade union, industrial wing. Unswerving in support of the doctrine of no participation in bourgeois governments until 1914, during the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) the SPD became a pro-regime party, though not abandoning its official belief in Marxism until 1959.
British Labour Party The British Labour Party was organically linked with the Labour movement in a manner which had no equivalent elsewhere. Labour was ‘labourist’, rather than socialist or social-democratic. The early Labour party reflected the ‘rather apolitical ethos of craft unionism’ (Padgett and Paterson, 1991, p. ). Organically bound to industrial labour and the trade union movement, Labour was originally created as a mechanism for electing trade union sponsored representatives of the working class to parliament, rather than to combat capitalism, such as the French or German parties. Labour never made Marxism into a creed, unlike many continental European social ‑ democratic and socialist parties. It first made an explicit commitment to socialism in its constitution of 1918, clause four of which committed the party to public ownership of the means of production and exchange. The socialism present within the Labour party was of the intellectual (Fabian), Christian socialist, or non-conformist variety: Marxism was a minority pastime. The 1917 Soviet revolution had a minimal effect; the communist party (CPGB) never established itself as a serious competitor. Unlike in France or Germany, there was never any principled opposition to participation in bourgeois governments. Indeed, the two interwar minority Labour governments of 1924 and 1929-31 depended for their survival upon a measure of complicity from other parties.
In Sum Social ‑ democratic and socialist parties were formed as parties of opposition. In their ostensibly revolutionary guise before 1914, no party managed to achieve power in a developed industrial country. Even more than the new communist parties, social-democratic parties were only verbally revolutionary: in fact, they encouraged the participation of the working classes in politics without posing a serious threat to the survival of existing capitalist societies. Though the parties in our three test countries - Germany, France and the UK - all participated in governments during the interwar period, these experiences were short-lived and fragile. Social democratic movements came into their own during the early postwar period. The failure of laissez-faire capitalism in the 1930s, the imperatives of social, economic and industrial modernisation, and a postwar concern with social justice produced a climate conducive to state economic interventionism and to concerns for social solidarity.
Postwar consensus The postwar consensus was social-democratic in that it involved a new form of settlement between politics and markets. It implied an acceptance of a higher degree of state interventionism in economic management (especially through the budget) than was deemed appropriate during the interwar period. The SD model looked to the public ownership or regulation of certain key industries, especially natural monopolies like gas, electricity and transport. Governments also invented interventionist industrial policies where the role played an important role: including in countries such as the UK. The SD model associated with Keynesian demand management in macro-economic policies: the role of governments was to pump prime – to create demand in periods of recession, rather than to allow the market along to determine the sense of economic direction. Public investment to support consumption would also increase employment. The SD model invented sophisticated Welfare states: let it be said straightaway that there is a difference between the Universal Beveridge principle in the UK and Scanidinavia; and the Corporatist contributions based models in France, Germany, Austria – but the principle of regulation of the social sphere was consolidated during this period. As a counterpart, the purest SD regimes – such as those in Sweden – relied on high redistributive taxation to provide finance and secure equality as the main goal of public policy. In its purest form (Austria, Germany, Scandinavia) a corporatist style of state-group relations complemented these macro-tendencies. The role of social partners vital in some versions of SD, less so in others, but generally a belief that industrial policy shouldo be coordinated by the Iron Triangle of State, Business and Labour.
Postwar consensus as social- democratic ? Governments of all persuasions came to accept responsibility for general economic and social security. The growth of the state sector responded to postwar conditions (the need for concerted modernisation and reconstruction), rather than social-democratic action. In the postwar period in Germany, for instance, all major parties looked to ‘some form of social control, public ownership and state intervention’ (Padgett and Paterson 1991, p.134); as the principal postwar party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) defined the essential parameters of public policy in the semi- sovereign west German state. The welfare state was not invented by social- democrats, but predated social-democracy. In the UIK, Germany, France, the basic architecture predated 1945. Social-democrats were not the only players in developing the postwar consensus. In Italy the right dictated the terms of the postwar constitutional settlement. In Austria, nationalisations, welfare reforms and state economic interventionism were consensual measures emanating as much from traditions of social christianity, as from social democracy. They were implemented by a consociational alliance between socialists (SPO) and the centre-right (OVP). In France, Gaullism and Christian democracy were as important as socialism or communism in defining the postwar model. There was thus a blurring of boundaries between left and right. State interventionism was no longer limited to Socialist governments; and after 1947 Socialist-led governments accepted macro-economic regulation by market mechanisms.
Social democracy in power: examples from German, French and British experience. The major mutation to affect social ‑ democracy during the post-war period has been to transform social ‑ democratic parties into mainstream or potential parties of government. Despite retaining certain characteristics of mass parties, several social-democratic parties moved towards becoming catch-all parties, as defined by Otto Kirchheimer (1966). They competed openly for the ‘centre’ ground; moved away from ideology, laid emphasis on issues, and stressed their competence as parties of government. Even radical Socialist parties - such as the French PS or Greek PASOK - moderated their political programmes once in office.
German SPD The German experience was the most instructive. In Germany, the postwar consensus was defined by the principal postwar party, the CDU, and by the nature of the creation of the Federal Republic as a semi-sovereign state. This powerful political and policy environment first isolated the SPD, then forced it to adapt. Though it had long ceased to be a genuine working-class party, the postwar SPD initially remained tied to its pre-1933 Marxist traditions. The party was reconstituted in 1946 on the basis of the 1926 Heidelburg programme. After a string of successive electoral defeats in the new Federal Republic (in 1949, 1953 and 1957) the SPD abandoned all reference to Marxism at the 1959 Bad Godesburg congress. The party accepted the liberal pluralism of the German state, and embraced the market economy. By the time the SPD first entered government as a junior party to the CDU in 1966, it had become a party of pragmatic reform. Initially somewhat more Keynesian than the CDU and less Atlanticist in foreign policy, increasingly little came to distinguish the two German ‘catch-all’ parties.
German SPD 2 The SPD lacked the political will or resources to attempt an audacious reform of German society during its long period of pre-eminence (1969-82). The party had to respect the polycentric pluralism of the German political system, as well as the constraints imposed by the party system and the underlying consensus mode of German society. In most areas of policy, there was continuity with past Christian- democratic governments. The strength of the market-economy and the Standord Deutschland (Germany as a competitive location) limited state economic interventionism. The German social-democrats had to respect a delicate policy/political environment characterised by the equilibrium between ordo- liberalism, and the social market economy. Once Helmut Schmidt replaced Willie Brandt in 1974, German Social-democracy became synonymous with pragmatism, compromise and a pro-business slant (Schmidt was surrounded by advisors from the private sector in his second term in office). Keynesian economic instruments ceded place to a marked monetarist orientation in economic policy. Unlike in Sweden, few efforts were made to employ political instruments to counteract the prevailing weight of economic factors. After Schmidt had lost power in 1982 the German SPD was weakened by internal organisational and political divisions, by the challenge of new parties (die Grünen) and policy agendas (post-materialism), and by continuing reaction against the Schmidt administration. By 1994, an internally divided SPD had lost four elections in a row: social-democratic political and policy divisions facilitated the task of the provincial Chancellor (Braunthal, 1998).
Red-Green coalition governments, 1998-2005.. – notable for v. distinctive stance in foreign policy – but Schroder reign characterised by difficulties on integrating the new lander of eastern Germany and by desperate attempts to cut back the Welfare State, to reduce unemployment entitlements, to reform pensions, to reduce business taxation and to increase labour flexibility. The Hartz 4 labour reforms produced massive opposition from within the Social Democratic party….. but the GS government managed, in a painful manner, to put the question of reform of the welfare state onto the political agenda. And in common with the other euro-zone countries, the creation of the Euro limited the budgetary tools at the disposal of governments. German SD remains committed to a version of the social market economy Decline in severe decline after its perceived performance in the Grand Coalition, 2005-2009.
British Labour The British experience contrasted with the German and French in one important respect. Of our three test countries, Britain alone experienced a homogeneous social-democratic government during the formative years of the post-war consensus. The 1945-51 post-war Labour government established the model of consensual British social democracy that exercised a preponderant ideological and policy influence on all parties until the mid-1970s. The 1945-51 Labour government carried out an important programme of nationalisations, introduced demand-management policies and - on the back of the Beveridge report - enacted the most imposing series of welfare reforms in British history. The centrepiece of the reforms - the National Health Service - has survived until the present. Somewhat less durable was the legacy of a bureaucratic model of public ownership, with the major utilities (water, gas, electricity, railways) directly managed by the state. This aspect of the social-democratic heritage was in the main dismantled by the Thatcher governments (1979-1990).
1964-70; 1974-1979 Labour’s performance in government from 1964-70, and - especially - 1974-79 has had a less exalted historical reputation. Both governments were tormented by economic difficulties. The 1964-1970 government was beset by the problem of the currency, and suffered the humiliation of two major devaluations of sterling in short succession. The 1974-79 administration was a minority government that survived after 1976 only thanks to the support of the Liberals. Economic crisis severely weakened both Labour governments. The Callaghan government was forced to go to the IMF in 1976 for an emergency loan to stablise the economy. The Labour governmental heritage was also one of failed neo-corporatism. In spite of attempts to build neo-corporatist structures (collective conventions, regulated pay bargaining, industrial tripartism) Labour governments entered into direct conflict with the trades unions over pay policies and industrial relations reform. In 1969, the Wilson government reluctantly abandoned an attempt to reform industrial relations law - In Place of Strife - after threatened strikes from the unions. In 1978-79, the Callaghan government was paralysed by a wave of public sector strikes during the Winter of Discontent. Labour government thus became associated with images of economic incompetence, poor industrial relations and inflation.
New Labour New Labour grew from an abnegation of social-democracy, as understood in its neo-corporatist, Labourite manifestation. Hostile to traditional symbols of social-democracy- notably the link with organised labour - the Blair government has developed a political discourse based on communautarianism, and individual rights and responsibilities, as demonstrated in its Welfare to Work proposals. Blair’s communautarianism goes way beyond past Labour revisionist thinking. It stresses duties, rather than rights and emphasises the moral, rather than the socio-economic basis of community. This has had a major impact at the level of problem- definition. Thus the unemployment problem is defined not as one of scarcity of work, but one of the employability of individuals. New Labour thus appears as an original blend of political radicalism, socio-economic conservatism, and moral conformism. A minimal welfare state and an acceptance that the universalist principle is outmoded are the salient features of new Labour.
New Labour: interpretations and dimensions Political enterprise Electoral exercise to allow Labour to be re-elected. Reorientate Labour electorate away from the declining groups of the population. Appeal to middle- class voters of Middle England Ideological restructuring… There is more to this than simple ‘neo-liberalism’. The Welfare to work programme clearly serts out to accompany individuals in their quest for work : to offer social counterparts for individual effort, notably in the form of training. Thus governments should act – but in terms of improving the overall environment, notably the education and training system. Thus, the NL enterrprise is quite a subtle compromise – not one that avoids collective action altogether. Moreover, there has been a massive difference between the first and second/third terms. When in power in 1997, it was essential to demonstrate economic credibility and to steer the economy in a manner consistent with globalisation (NB). Since 2001, the labour government was been very heavily investing in public services ; in fact, spending vast sums of money in a manner that it recognisably social-democratic. By 2008, new Labojur had become… old Labour?
Interpretations of new Labour ? a/. D’abord, le nouveau travaillisme comme le nouveau centre de la vie politique anglaise. Cette interprétation est tenu notamment par Andrew Gamble, ou par Anthony Giddens. Selon cette interpretation, le PT a reconnu que les marges de manoeuvres au niveau économique sont hautement limités; les vieux rémèdes keynésiennes sont inadaptés au monde moderne. La globalisation et la puissance des marchés de capitaux internationaux sont des contraintes objectives qui s’imposent sur les gouvernements meme des nations les plus puissantes. b). Nouveau réaliste, le PT prone une politique économique de l’offre. Mais le parti garde un programme radical dans le domaine de la réforme constitutionelle (reforme electorale, decentralisation...) et de l’intégration européenne - le domaine de prédeliction traditionelle des partis centristes (notamment les liberaux). L’Europe occupe une place particulière, et un peu paradoxale dans cette ensemble: l’intégration européenne est un moyen d’accelérer la modernisation de l’Angleterre (notamment, dans l’avenir, grace à la monnaie unique; mais aussi l’incorporation de la charte des droits de l’homme dans le droit anglais ). En meme temps, grace aux transformations structurelles des années 80 et 90 - le modèle anglais doit etre exporté à l’Europe dans son ensemble, notamment au niveau de la politique d’emploi. De plus, un accent un peu nationaliste au discours de Tony Blair, qui a sommé l’Angleterre de devenir un phare pour les autres pays du monde. Plutot qu’entre la gauche et la droite, le clivage central est redevenu entre liberaux et conservateurs - comme au dix-neuvième siècle.
Interprétations of New Labour c/. Les interprétations réalistes. Le PT a su s’adapter aux contraintes externes - plus que le Parti conservateur qui s’est entredechiré sur l’Europe. Le PT accepte que le keynésienime n’est plus possible dans un monde globalisé. Le GT ne doit pas faire de faux pas économique, sinon il risque d’ etre sanctionné lourdement par les marchés. Ce qui compte ici, pourtant, c’est la contrainte externe; cette évolution est imposé, non pas explicitement voulu. La contrainte va à l’encontre du programme des travaillistes. d/. Les interprétations volontaristes. Non seulement le PT a integré le poids des contraintes externes dans sa stratégie politique; le PT en en a profité pour accentuer la modernisation d’abord du parti, ensuite du pays. Telle est la thèse defendue par Eric Shaw. Pour Eric Shaw, les contraintes externes sont importantes pour comprendre le nouveau PT, mais encore plus important est la philosophie politique de Tony Blair lui-meme. Pour Tony Blair, les solutions keynésiennes et l’Etat providence classique entrainent un sentiment de dépendence psychologique vis-à- vis de l’Etat. Les veilles solidarités collectives doivent ceder le pas à un nouvreau sens de responsabilité individuelle, qui sonne le glas de l’Etat providence classique. En meme temps, Tony Blair tient un discours très axé sur un retour aux veilles valeurs traditionelles de la famille. C’est dans ce sens que le projet politique de Blair n’a rien a voir avec le social-démocratie classique.
French Socialists in Office 1. The French version of the post-war consensus had its genesis in the Tripartite government of 1944-47. This post-war coalition of progressive forces (Communists, Christian-Democrats [MRP], Socialists) left a robust reformist record to its credit after 30 months in office. It introduced France’s comprehensive social security system. It enacted important civil and social reforms, notably the advent of female suffrage and the creation of workplace committees. Moreover, it greatly accentuated practices of economic dirigisme by taking several major industries into public ownership, and launching French planning procedures. The nationalisation programme created large state firms in the key sectors of energy (gas, coal, electricity, Atomic energy) transport (Air France, Renault), banking (the Bank of France, and four deposit banks, including Crédit Lyonnais) and insurance. With the break- down of triparitism in May 1947, France had to wait until Mitterrand’s election in 1981 for its next experience of left-wing government.
French Socialists in Office 2 Despite its antipathy to the label social-democratic, the Mauroy government (1981-84) enthusiastically adopted classic social-democratic remedies while these were being progressively jettisoned elsewhere. The Socialist-led government implemented Keynesian demand management policies to stimulate growth and combat unemployment. In the early 1980s, with the US and western Europe in the midst of recession, the French socialist government’s counter- cyclical economic policy contrasted starkly with the macroeconomic policies being pursued by France’s principal trading partners. Moreover, its audacious industrial policies (the 1982 nationalisation of 36 banks and five major industrial groups) ran directly counter to the incipient privatisation trends elsewhere. Its social generosity (as measured by increases in pensions, the minimum wage, and family allowances) contributed to the goal of economic relaunch, and fiscal redistribution (consolidated by the Wealth tax), but created intolerable economic strains. Harsh economic realities forced the government to modify the pace of redistributive welfare reforms and Keynesian pump-priming. The French economy simply could not absorb the pressure imposed by spiralling trade and budget deficits. The left’s economic U-turn - which took place in two stages, in June 1982 and in March 1983 - demonstrated for most observers France’s economic vulnerability: unilateral Keynesian reflationary policies were no longer possible for a medium-sized nation such as France in an interdependent world economy. The failure of Socialist reflation from 1981 ‑ 83 revealed the pressures for convergence between French economic policies and those of its main competitors, especially Germany. There was a particularly strong linkage between domestic budget retrenchment, monetary rigour, and the drive for closer European integration in the 1980s and 1990s, not least because of the prominent role by Mitterrand (and Delors) in negotiating the Single European Act (1986) and the Maastricht Treaty (1993).
Plural left, 1997-2002 The plural left’s electoral victory in June 1997 brought the Socialists back to power rather earlier than most observers expected. The Jospin government delivered a distinctive political message based on defending the French social model under attack from a neo-liberal onslaught and the invisible forces of globalisation that bore many similarities with the 1981-83 period. The main difference between the two periods relates to the degree of interdependence of France and her European partners, and the limited sovereignty of national economic policies after the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty. The economic activity of the Mauroy government during 1981-82 presupposed a degree of formal national economic sovereignty that no longer existed in 1997. The nationalisation programme of 1982 would certainly not have been possible in 1997, EU competition policy obliging. Moreover, European policy fashions have shifted over the period, in favour of greater marketisation and privatisation. Yet a resurgent French Socialist party, once again in government since June 1997, has been reluctant to accept the cultural or ideological reference frames in vogue amongst certain other social-democratic parties (notably the mantra of labour flexibility), to the extent of being seen as ‘archaic’ by Anglo-Saxon commentators enamoured with Tony Blair and new Labour.
Plural left, 1997-2002.. If the margins of manoeuvre open to the Jospin government were limited, this was partly as a result of the legacy of the Mitterrand presidency itself. Mitterrand’s principal achievements (of Europeanisation, marketisation, and modernisation ) were difficult to reconcile with a traditional social-democratic political agenda. In European policy, the single European Act and the Maastricht treaty were major achievements for which Mitterrand could claim some credit. The Maastricht Treaty imposed a monetarist vision of an ever closer union, a logic which had little in common with Keynesian reflationary policies or the left’s traditional social objectives. While the Jospin method was consciously crafted as the antithesis of the Mitterrand presidency, the new government had to operate within the parameters of powerful constraints, not least those relating to the prospect of EMU and the convergence criteria, which were in a real sense the legacy of Mitterrand.  Cole François Mitterrand: a Study in Political Leadership, chapter 12.
35 Hour week and other reforms The 35 hours was by far the most audacious reform of the Jospin government. Premier Jospin refused to accept that nothing could be done about unemployment; bold government action was called for. Specialist advice was divided, however; certain economists predicted real job gains from a move to 35 hours, whereas others doubted it would have any effect.  At a National Conference attended by government ministers, trade unions and employers associations on October 10, 1997, premier Jospin announced that ‘a law would fix the legal duration of the working week at 35 hours from January 1, 2000’, for all firms with more than 10 workers.  Such a law was passed through the National Assembly in January 1998, instructing employers and unions to negotiate the modalities of the passage to 35 hours by the year 2000. This decision was more radical than expected, to the satisfaction of the plural left majority and the trade unions, and the distress of the CNPF.
Jospin…then oblivion? The essence of Jospin’s governing method was to stress the autonomy of political action, even in a context of strong interdependence. Jospin did not call into question the market, but adopted a far less accommodating stance to business interests than late Mitterrandism; this was demonstrated by the increase in company taxation in July 1997, and above all by the legally binding move to a 35 hour week against fierce CNPF opposition. Ultimately, there were similarities, as well as differences, between Jospin, and his former mentor Mitterrand. Both leaders placed a high value on the importance of politics, as against technical constraints. The attempt at economic reflation and thoroughgoing social reform had illustrated Mitterrand's belief in the ascendancy of the political over the economic, a belief strongly maintained until France was constrained to change course in 1982-83. But the 2002 elections,, represented a major setback for the French PS and the left. Is it now a municipal socialist party?