Lessons from France and the United Kingdom could inspire a wave of the left in Europe

Lessons from France and the United Kingdom could inspire a wave of the left in Europe

From Berlin | The recent victories of the left in legislative elections in France and the Labour Party in the United Kingdom marked a moment of transition in Europe’s political landscape. The progressive victories in both countries come less than a month after the far right gained strength in European Parliament elections, offering some respite to democratic forces in the region.

In the French case, New Popular Front (NFP)a coalition of left-wing parties, received The largest number of chairs in parliament, and Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party, which had led in the first round, came third behind French President Emmanuel Macron’s coalition, Ensemble (Together).

The victory of the left in France surprised many, given that the extreme right had already taken its victory for granted after its good performance in the first round and was even supported by political analysts. However, the French turned out en masse to vote and overcame the high boycott rate in the first round and delivered a victory to the left-wing parties, which will have to form a coalition with the center to form a new government.

In an interview with stageTeacher Ariane RoederThe political scientist and expert in international relations at the Institute of Postgraduate Studies and Research in Administration at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Copid/UFRJ), explains that “Macron, faced with governance problems, decided to adopt a risky strategy and to proceed with electoral legislative actions in the country, in a context of the strength unleashed by the extreme right”.

“After the first round appeared to be a victory for the extreme right, a coalition between the center and the left, putting aside their differences, found a way to stop this extremist and conservative agenda from advancing. The result surprised even the most optimistic people,” he points out.

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The landslide victory of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom, which won 411 seats in Parliament and returned to power after 14 years, was appointed the new Prime Minister keir starmerwas already predicted by research. According to Ariane Röder, “the scenario is pointing to a political-ideological polarisation taking over the European scene, with the centrist parties getting weaker, which are starting to act like a pendulum in this political balance.”

Polarization in Europe

Despite the victories of the left in the French and British elections, the significant gains of the far right in the European Parliament elections are a worrying sign. In France itself, the far right were the winners in the European elections, as well as in Italy and Austria.

The case of Germany is particularly noteworthy, given that the AfD, a far-right party whose members include neo-Nazis, became the second political force in the country in the European elections, which is currently governed by Olaf Scholz from the Social Party – Democrats (SPD), center-left – the party that had its worst performance in history in a European Parliament election.

“What this recent electoral movement reveals about the current European political landscape is a growing ideological polarization that makes governing and forming government coalitions difficult,” says Ariane Röder.

According to the international relations expert, the election results in France have shown that a coalition between the center and the left can be effective in stopping the extreme right. However, the professor warns that “the challenge now is to ensure that this coalition is accommodated in the political system and forms a viable government.”

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She highlights that, in the case of the United Kingdom, after 14 years under the command of the Conservative Party, “the left is managing to provide more clear responses, standardize its positions in relation to the political agenda and internationalize the debate.”

Left wave?

Ariane Roeder assesses that, despite the growth of the extreme right, the left won in France and the United Kingdom has the potential to inspire a more left-wing political wave in Europe. The professor highlights that “these results can serve as a strategic lesson for left-wing parties in many countries around the world, since there was a very successful arrangement in clarifying coalitions that made it impossible for the extreme right to advance.”

According to the professor, there are “three big lessons” that left-wing parties in other countries can learn from the French and British cases.

“Increase electoral engagement, particularly among young voters; recapture the momentum of street protests; partner with the center, building a defensive coalition with regard to the extreme right; and create a more cohesive and equitable agenda and discourse on the global left.”

About the author: Cory Weinberg

"Student. Subtly charming organizer. Certified music advocate. Writer. Lifelong troublemaker. Twitter lover."

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