A Revival of the Left?

This article on the current state of the political left in France includes a comparative study of electoral trends in Canada, the UK, Italy, Sweden, Germany and Spain. It identifies the strengths and weaknesses of parties on the left, changing voter profiles, and strategies for political renewal.

French citizens feel strongly about equality and social justice, which matters to them significantly more than individual liberty. Yet, socialism is currently not very popular in France. For the time being, the left in France is very fragmented and the main left-wing party – the Parti Socialiste – still hasn’t recovered from Macron’s hold on most of its electorate. As the left is trying to reinvent itself in France, it is looking beyond its borders for winning strategies and new ideas.

We have conducted an analysis of what is happening with the left-wing parties in several other countries, specifically in Canada, Spain, Italy, the UK, and the US The left, defined as the main centre-left government party, has had very different trajectories over the past decades. But overall in most countries, its share of the electorate has tended to decline – though nowhere more dramatically than France.

A few trends can explain this, including:

  • The loss of left-leaning voters due to the implementation of centrist policies.
  • Voter fatigue because the parties have been in power or in coalition governments for a long time.
  • Inability to attract new voters due to the slow uptake of environmental causes.
  • The left’s ideological offer does not match voter’s expectations or aspirations

Three possibilities for the renewal of the left today include:

  1. Success at the municipal level: With competence and good management, striking a chord with progressive yet pro-globalisation urban voters
  2. Environmental issues: Provided it manages to be credible enough, such as by matching the Greens in terms of environmentalist propositions.
  3. Embodying genuine political renewal: Take the example of Pedro Sanchez in Spain who was for a long time a party outsider, or Zuzana Caputova in Slovenia who campaigned as an independent, anti-corruption and anti-system outsider.