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00.6 Program for the Study of Germany and Europe

Social Democracy, Globalization and Governance: Why is there no European Left Program in the EU?

2000 – Christopher S. Allen


This paper addresses globalization and governance in the EU by attempting to generate some plausible hypotheses that might explain the policy choices of the 12 out of 15 European democratic left governments. With all of the discussion in recent years of a democratic deficit, and then need to maintain a "social Europe," why have these governments not produced more explicit left-wing policies? It suggests three possible hypotheses to account for this apparently mysterious outcome. Hypothesis #1: They want to but they can't. Hypothesis #2: They don't want to because they aren't really left anymore. Hypothesis #3: They could, but they all are suffering from a fundamental failure of imagination. The paper explores each of these hypotheses in two ways. First it examines the initial years of the Schröder government in Germany apparently, pursuing each of these three hypotheses and different times during this period. Then it looks more systematically and comparatively and each of the three hypotheses by including analysis both of Germany and several other EU member states. The larger goal of this work is to provoke discussion and research on what role left political movements can actually play. Is it even reasonable to expect such a group of nation states to develop innovative forms of cross-national governance? Or are new and/or revised forms of representation and governance beyond traditional nation-state models.