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Social democrat failure

Mark Mardell | 01:16 UK time, Monday, 8 June 2009

A couple watching results board outside European Parliament, BrusselsWhether you look at this as 27 individual elections or a snapshot of the EU as a whole a picture does emerge.

At a time of severe economic crisis, when it's almost traditional for people to give their governments a kicking, they refrained. In Poland, Germany, France and Italy ruling parties of the centre right have done well. In part this may be because many in continental Europe see this recession as made in the USA, and UK, by Anglo-Saxons - not their own leaders.

But the other side of the coin is the EU-wide failure of social democracy. They lost some votes to parties further to their left. In France and Germany in particular the main party of the left has been in a mess for a while. And in Germany, where the party is in a coalition government, it hasn't looked like anything but the junior partner.

An economic crisis, which many blame on a market that's too free, in a world where people feel insecure, and might look for more social protection - it should have been an open goal for the social democrats. In Europe they have lacked inspiration, organisation and anything approaching a new idea.


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