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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Europe's Socialists Suffering Even in Downturn

In response to a really bad NY Times article:

To be blunt, this was just bad reporting, leading to an article containing factual errors as well as analytical ones. This starts out with the article's headline equating the SPD with European socialist parties. Actually, the Social Democratic Party as it is correctly named within the text itself is not a socialist party anymore in rhetoric either (it wasn't in fact long before that) since the publication of its Godesberger Program in 1959.

The author then claims that the 'Socialists [...] [are] fighting to preserve systems that voters think need to be improved.' That might well be true in some cases, in Germany the SPD lost voters precisely because they tried to reform the system in government with a red-green coalition from 1998 to 2005. The SPD is being punished not because it refuses to adapt, but because it tried to reform. The Left which refuses the need for social reforms and is the real socialist party in Germany, against the odds has succeeded to establish itself on the national scene. Steven Erlanger's claim cited above is simply not true then, the reverse is true for Germany.

Finally, it is of course not true, that the left (Greens, SPD, Die Linke) has a structural majority in parliament, that is exactly what changed on Sunday.

There are additional analytical mistakes concerning the relation between The Left and the SPD, but these issues are, to some extent, up to debate while the aforementioned three points are simply wrong.

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