The transformation of the mainstream right in Western Europe

Implications for social democracy

Policy Brief

01/03/2024

The new policy brief ‘The transformation of the mainstream right in Western Europe: implications for social democracy’  focuses on the (alleged) radicalisation of European centre-right parties and the danger of them becoming imitators of the populist radical right.

The formation of such coalitions poses a significant challenge as they risk normalising the rhetoric and policies of the populist radical right and undermining liberal democracy.

It calls on social democratic forces not to watch this trend passively but to oppose it actively. In doing so, they can rely on a paradox reflected in data emerging from our research: 

  • The social democratic family enjoys high favourability (around 60%) and relatively lowest rejection (about 35%) among voters
  • At the same time, there has been a decline in votes for social democrats in Western Europe in recent times.

This policy brief finds that social democrats can capitalise on this untapped potential by using new and improved narratives that effectively appeal to the ideas and interests of an electorate that shares progressive values.

This includes rethinking how socialist principles can be effectively combined with democratic governance and market economics to achieve social justice and equality and benefit historically marginalised groups that have become increasingly influential in recent decades.

In doing so, they recognise their changing constituency in Western Europe, which has become more diverse and progressive.

This policy brief is based on an extensive analysis of empirical data and a detailed examination of six country cases:

  • Austria
  • Germany
  • France
  • Poland
  • Spain
  • Sweden

A comprehensive policy study on the same topic will be launched in April

Network
Fondation Jean-Jaurès
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
Karl Renner Institut
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Implications for Social Democracy
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