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What you call the strategy of the left is the result of lots of individual decisions. There is (afaik) no organised election boycott here, it is just that PSOE has done the opposite to what they promised and thus lost a lot of their support.

The strategy of the parties to the left of PSOE is to try to pick up those votes. You can blame them for not being efficient, but you can not blame them for not trying.

The real question is what the strategy of PSOE is.

In general, I think it is unconstructive to describe a party losing votes as if the voters was organised outside the party and decided to turn their back in an organised manner, while the party is just individuals, drifting in a sea of forces. I think the opposite is truer.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 08:06:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The question is why there is no left of PSOE party gaining votes.

But I don't see a lack of coherence in the "sit it out" party. That group is well organized, has access to media, and has a steady product throughout Western Europe and the USA.

Strangely enough, to use a OWS example, Michael Moore gets a lot of media coverage for claiming that the Obama administration has coordinated attacks on protesters and is a catastrophe, while activists of the Working Families Party do not ever get any air-time. It is almost as if the "left" of quietism is favored somehow by the corporate media over the left of coalition building.

by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 08:15:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So enligthen me, who in Spain are calling for an election boycott in Spain?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 08:19:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
from the diary just above:

Be aware, though, that the left is basically in the streets shouting "do not vote PPSOE".

by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 08:23:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I did not read that as a call to boycott - I read it as a call to vote to the left of PSOE. But I guess it could be constructed that way.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 08:46:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me point out that the call is to vote for something else, more left-wing or more right-wing. Your pick.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 09:32:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Standing behind me in the line at the polls was a young couple. He kept going on about how representative democracy was a useless exercise, and so on. The basic 15M-movement they call it democracy but it's not and they do not represent us line. He voted. I doubt he voted PSOE, and I doubt he voted to the right of PSOE.

I also voted. I also voted to the left of PSOE. I also ranted about voting once a year and sitting at home for the following 4 years.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 01:06:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The question is why there is no left of PSOE party gaining votes.

Eyes wide shut, eh?

They are. Just not as fast as the PSOE is losing them.

If this surprises you, then you haven't been paying attention. And if you expect any other party or parties to be able to increase their vote share by a factor of five or so just because the PSOE is flipping voters the bird, then you must believe in Santa and magic ponies.

I suggest you familiarise yourself with the reality of parliamentary politics under proportional representation systems before you throw hissy fits at people who are actually doing something.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 08:25:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Compared with the 2008 results (73% participation, 44% PSOE and 40% PP out of votes cast with 11 and 10 million votes respectively) this means that between nearly three million voters will sit it out, that the PP will gain less than half a million votes and that the PSOE vote will collapse to under 7 million votes, below its 2000 result. Also, the combined PPSOE vote will go from 61% of eligible voters to 49%. About 700,000 people more than in 2008 will vote for third parties. In terms of seats, out of a 350-seat parliament the move will be from 169 PSOE and 154 PP to maybe 195 PP and as little as 110 PSOE.

Impressive! 700,000 more votes for 3rd parties! And some of these are right wing. Of course after several years of PP management, the centralization of power, and the encouragement of the Franco-sentimental-right, we should be on the fucking verge of a left wing tsunami! Keep holding your breath.

by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 08:29:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Again: If you believe in quintupling the size of a party in a single election cycle, then you're sniffing glue, not engaging in political analysis.

If you think the left is ineffective, then go out and get involved. Don't whine that they won't line up and vote for someone who fucked them over less than two months ago. So hard that they might as well have voted for Angela fucking Merkel for all the good it did.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 08:41:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So they are handing power over to the right. Excellent!

I am involved in politics. However, more and more, I find that the functional basis of the "left" is to protect right wing power and divert opposition to fruitless symbolism and self-esteem therapy.

by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 08:45:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Getting the PSOE to stop taking marching orders from Frankfurt is more important, long-term, than the by this point minute differences between the PP and PSOE.

If you know a better way to stop the PSOE taking marching orders from Frankfurt than not voting for them, then I'm all ears.

Until then, however, I've just about had enough of your bullshit. Obviously it would be better if those people who don't vote for the PSOE this election were to all march in lockstep to over to vote for parties to the left of the PSOE. But some of us live in the real world, not some alternative fantasy where you get to build a complete, viable, fully functional left-wing coalition before you stop supporting the centre-right over the far right.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 08:53:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The correct way to keep the PSOE from drifting right is to elect more left wing local and national officials, build labor and other organizations, and convince the public to support alternatives. The incorrect way is to replace them with a party that will be even more committed to austerity and right wing nationalism.  One does not climb a ladder by jumping off it headfirst.
by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 09:01:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The correct way to keep the PSOE from drifting right is to elect more left wing local and national officials, build labor and other organizations, and convince the public to support alternatives.

Quite.

So why do you keep pissing on people who do that?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 09:07:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because that is not what they are doing.
by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 09:13:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And you know that how?

Or are you simply projecting the prejudices of the Beltway Dem establishment onto a European context?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 09:20:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That seems to be precisely what we are seeing.

It would appear this person's energy might best be spent fixing the broken political institutions in his or her own country before lecturing us about our own admittedly imperfect ones (level of imperfection of course varying by member state).

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 09:31:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the right wing is about to take power.
by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 09:49:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And obviously that can't be the PSOE's fault for alienating a good third of its voters? It clearly must be the left's fault for... what? Not being able to pull magic fairy dust out of their ass and go from being 4 % of the electorate to being 24 percent in the span of time it took the PSOE to convince those 20 percentage points that a PSOE vote was worth less than a piece of toilet paper?

Obviously, not being able to perform magic is a serious handicap for the left.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 09:53:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, so until a few months ago you relied on the PSOE to do the right thing? Really?
And all this time, the left has been busily having indignant meetings urging people to vote for leftwing parties that have been organizing?

You keep thinking that the Social Democrats manifest flaws are an excuse.

It's all their fault
We warned you
We said it would
end in doom

And now the right
will rule you
and we'll be gloating
in our room.

by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 09:58:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, so until a few months ago you relied on the PSOE to do the right thing?

No, but the majority of those who voted for them last time apparently did.

The left can organise, it can make propaganda, it can stand for election. But it cannot do Jedi mind tricks, and when the PSOE shoots itself in the head two months before the election, it can't scramble a response that will catch all the now homeless voters. Believing that it could is an act of pure wishful thinking.

And all this time, the left has been busily having indignant meetings urging people to vote for leftwing parties that have been organizing?

Yes. If you missed that, then you haven't been paying attention.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 10:05:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But PSOE was in trouble in the May elections.

http://www.nolesvotes.com/

by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 10:16:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The PSOE electoral rout started in May 2010, when ZP capitulated to the European austerity strategy.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 01:02:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the point. Voting habits do not change so radically in two years that the PSOE abdication to right wing economic policies as imposed by the CDU and welcomed by the PP makes an anti-PSOE, anti-PP majority an electoral possibility.

With a 180 degree turn by the PSOE, with the requisite sacrificial lambs of PSOE supporters of the ECB colonization of Spain, it might be possible to reverse the outcome in a single election cycle, given how painful the years ahead will be.

Failing that, with a PSOE split and reconstitution of the colonial independence faction, it might be possible in a few election cycles.

Failing that, with the PP as a "Tory" pro-dependence party and the PSOE as a "Whig" pro-dependence party, a long slow process of party building lies ahead, similar to the long, slow replacement of the Canadian Liberal Part with the Canadian NDP.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 12:21:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
>Or are you simply projecting the prejudices of the Beltway Dem establishment onto a European context?<

That seems to be happening. Our american friend is just taking his blog comment feuds from the american blogs and importing them here.

A bit pointless, if you ask me.

by IM on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 01:07:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, things are related in many ways: Blair followed Clinton as Reagan followed Thatcher. Merkel's economics theories are very much Chicago School - not in tune with the traditional economics of the German right. The collapse of the Social Democratic state in Sweden shows many similarities to the collapse of the FDR democrats in the US. Similarities in social structure produce similar (although far from identical) results - and of course these nations are all influencing each other. The long reign of Bush helped Merkel to power and helped Blair move far to the right and so on.

Not to mention that European "left" professors often drift West. The performance artist Zizek and the deeply confused David Harvey are both in New York, and today I learned that Perry Anderson is in LA.

by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 02:12:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
<Actually, things are related in many ways:>
Yes and no. And many ways doesn't mean in all ways.

 >Blair followed Clinton as Reagan followed Thatcher.
Merkel's economics theories are very much Chicago School - not in tune with the traditional economics of the German right.<

Once upon a time I thought the same, But now I think she doesn't have an economic theory at all.

>The collapse of the Social Democratic state in Sweden shows many similarities to the collapse of the FDR democrats in the US.>

So the solid south of Sweden did what? More to the point: The social democrats in Sweden collapsed, but their state lives happily on. Of course you could argue that there are still in the Nixon phase.

Also, the whole thing happened thirty years later. So can it really be the same process?

>Similarities in social structure produce similar (although far from identical) results - and of course these nations are all influencing each other.<

Yes, but. That isn't actually true, if you look e. g. at the party system. In western Europe, Australia and Canada the main center-left party is a socialist/social democratic party. That isn't true in Canada, where the space is (or was) filled by the Liberals, and not true in the US, where the democrats are supposed to fill that space. So somewhat similar societies can get very different party systems.

< The long reign of Bush helped Merkel to power and helped Blair move far to the right and so on.>
Don't know about Blair; but he wasn't already that much of a left-winger in 1997. Merkel or rather her party actually did lose the election in 2002 because of their lack of distance to Bush. I don't think the eight years of Bush did help the german right one bit.

The academics you mention - I think you overestimate their influence on the european or american left a lot.

by IM on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 02:51:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whatever you call them, the US Democrats are essentially social democrats. The parties are different, of course, but similar sociological processes can be seen. The transformation of the industrial proletariat into a shrinking minority that moved right in practice everywhere in the OECD in the 1970s, the creation of huge white collar working class segment (by working class, I mean of course a class that relies on wage income, not investment income) that tends to vote more right wing, the concentration of industry, the growth of finance, the increasing role of racial/immigrant politics, ... JK Galbraith had some interesting remarks towards the end of his life about how the success of essentially social democratic economic policies generates voting blocks hostile to social democratic policies.

In many ways, the proximate causes of the current economic malaise in EU and the US are the same and these are driving politics. Blair was a Clintonist neoliberal (in the American sense) when he came into office, but it seems to me that Bush enabled him to become entirely a creature of finance. One of the things the right seems to understand that the left does not is that power is cumulative. If Gore had taken power in 2000, Blair would have been confronting a US industrial policy, not enmeshing himself in US imperial adventures and the US would have been pushing back against the wild speculative activities of EU banks in the USA. So even small steps to the left or right in one nation will affect others.

by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 04:06:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But isn't it having it both ways? If you want to explain everything with deep structural processes - I think that is basically right - how can you at the same time invest a single election like 2000 with that much significance.

And in your expectation of Gore you almost talk like a stereotypical Obama critic: The president can do this or that. The amount of policy Gore could have effected with a republican congress would be somewhat limited.

Because aside from the socio-economic trends the structure of the political system, in this case the US, matters too. And the american system is resistant to change in an unusual degree. In many - not all - other countries meanwhile one parliamentary majority can change what another made.

One poster on Dailykos had once a sigline: The supreme court matters! Very valid in the context of discussing the value of any democratic above any republican president. Not valid in most other countries.

And so some of your arguments are not valid outside an american context.

by IM on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 04:38:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Structure sets the probabilities, but events change structure. Under Bush, the USA lost 3million manufacturing jobs, built up trillions in debt, and accelerated a number of bad trends -including those Supreme Court appointments. Gore would not have created a revolution, but he would have trended in a different direction and that would have affected Blair too. Every action has an affect. Each local elected official changes some microcosm of the political world. The right knows this, but the "left" has a black and white view focused on the national power centers. The effects of the PP victory in Spain will be comprehensive and long lasting. All sorts of Franco-ist scum who kept in hiding will venture out and take charge of a bank here, a local court there, a military unit somewhere else.
by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 08:35:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The right knows this, but the "left" has a black and white view focused on the national power centers.

When formulating a critique, it helps to know of what one is speaking.

The European left contests elections at every level - municipal, regional, national, federal. If the American left does not understand that this is important, then I would suggest that you expend your efforts on educating the American left.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 09:06:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Read the diary again.
by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 09:17:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So in the end, your argument boils down to the Politician's Syllogism:

The left is losing. Therefore the left is doing something wrong.
This is something.
Therefore, this is what the left is doing wrong.

Please get back to me when you have a useful critique. And no, "vote for the lesser evil, because what could possibly go wrong (aside from having your constitution rewritten by DeutcheBank)?" does not qualify.

Fun fact: If the PSOE had been in opposition two months ago, the amendment that enshrined deficit terrorism into the constitution would not have passed. How's that for making the institutional structure more amenable to left-wing organising?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 09:42:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
of course it goes without saying that the PSOE in opposition would have bravely defied the EU because, well, because.
by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 11:01:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because, not being in power, it doesn't have to be as serious™.

Hey, the first time in 18 months that Zapatero said the EU and the ECB needed to do more about the crisis was at an electoral rally this Friday! That is, on the way out. I bet you they will be vociferous about it now that they're in opposition. Hence

In any case, the constant sentence against him on the left-corner has been "why did not yo do/say/defend this while you were in power?"
Read the diary.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:06:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But why is speaking ineffectually such a plus?
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 09:16:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because even if you cannot enact policy you can steer the debate in the right direction. The right wing understands this, but the left doesn't seem to. And it's the hegemonic, centrist party that needs to understand it. As JakeS never tires of pointing out, the right wing finds fringe extremists extremely useful to steer the debate, while the centre left finds radical leftists threatening, maybe becuase of a fear that the "unseriousness" will rub off on them.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 09:37:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They way one steers the debate in the right direction is by making the case, not by handing power over to the right which they will use to further limit the range of permitted discussion. JakeS has it backwards, however. The fringe right reserves 90% of its energy for advancing its own case and attacking the left and moderates. The fringe left, however, is all about attacking the "betrayal" of moderates and each other. One notes that the instances in which right wing extremists urge their voters to stay home are few and far between - and their enthusiasm for symbolic gestures is minimal. The right is about power, what remains of the left is often about striking a pose. Imagine that the PSOE had been in the position of the PP, running a campaign utterly bereft of concrete proposals. The sound of angry "left" demands for specific promises would be high pitched indeed. And yet, the right knows how to play the game -  even though their actual policies are not liked by a majority.
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:13:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought by "speaking ineffectually" you were referring to ZP and the PSOE making "the right noises" while in opposition.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:14:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would expect some clear examples, in the political space, in a European country context, preferably in a non-English official language country.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:15:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:21:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bwahahaha.

I believe JakeS is allied with the Socialistisk Folkeparti which is most definitely not fringe given their ability to get 10% of seats in the Folketing, 15% of Danish seats in the European Parliament, and comparable proportions in regional and local elections.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:40:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've discussed many things in the past with Jake, and to be honest, he is if anything much more pragmatic, and centrist, than the political strain of which I count myself as well as the political party of which I am a member.

My party has been in a number of governing coalitions and held a number of ministries over the past decades, including the last left-wing coalition here led by Lionel Jospin and the PS.

I don't think you have much background on what the European political left really looks like, else you wouldn't make such absurd statements.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:55:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My vast ignorance is of course obvious. To an ignorant person like me it appears that the finance right dominates the EU, that the weak SD parties have been swept away like dust and the most successful further left parties are struggling to break 15% of the vote. However, thanks to your instruction, I now know that, as usual, none of this is due to any tactical or analytical defect on the part of the left, it's all due to the perfidy of the Social Democrats.
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 12:23:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the Third-way Social Democrats in the 1990s agreed to gold-bug- and neoliberal-inspired institutional structures in the Eurozone. They then proceeded in the 2000s to undermine the social safety nets and to ride the Eurozone credit bubbles. When the crisis hit they shared the right-wing diagnosis, they protected TPTB like the right-wing and then they got fully on board with the Austerity™ out of Seriousness™.

The successful left wing parties polling around 15% did none of this.

And you suggest the right strategy is to vote for the Social Democrats even if you agree with the left parties.

In addition, given a Social-democratic hegemonic party of the left and an also-ran party of the left, what vote percentage would you expect the also-ran to get? Assume the right/left split is 50/50 and assume the hegemonic party beats the also-ran 2:1 and you get the respective 30% - 15% vote shares.

On what basis you thumb your nose at the 15% of the also-ran calling it "not successful? Under European PR systems, that 15% translates into seats in parliament as opposed to zero representation in Anglo-American FPTP systems.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 12:32:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not at all sure I know a solution, however, I am sure that 15% representation (or similarly a few "progressive" US congresspeople) is not success. Success is when you, you know, win. Losing and giving impassioned speeches, principled ones even, is not winning.
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 12:45:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite. And third-wayers have been winning... what, exactly?

Incidentally, I seem to have missed your undoubtedly enthusiastic endorsement of the chaps who mounted a primary challenge to Lieberman an election cycle or so back. Care to refresh my memory on that subject?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 01:23:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"3rd way" is a meaningless term either as a critique or a platform.

Your enthusiasm for Lamont (that was the name of Lieberman's opponent) at this stage is hard to fathom.

by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 04:27:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"3rd way" is a meaningless term either as a critique or a platform.

Sadly, the third-wayers disagree with the latter. Which fact falsifies the former.

Your enthusiasm for Lamont (that was the name of Lieberman's opponent) at this stage is hard to fathom.

I have no particular opinion on Lamont.

I have an opinion on the need to primary a useless waste of space like Lieberman. Lamont could be an almost as useless waste of space as Lieberman, but hey - lesser of two evils, right?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 04:45:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given a massive incumbent advantage in a thoroughly corrupted political system, primarying an entrenched incumbent like Lieberman is worthwhile even if the alternative is only moderately better ~ and, indeed, proved worthwhile despite failing in the end, as the backlash to the independent run meant that Lieberman was well advised to retire after the end of the term that he had won.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Nov 22nd, 2011 at 03:33:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was the semi-official name of the political platform.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 07:22:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Historically, it was a name used by groups that claimed to be on neither side in the cold war.

Right now it is a kind of vague statement of semi-conservatives.

However, I think we are at a historical low point for information content of political labels.

by rootless2 on Tue Nov 22nd, 2011 at 08:17:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DLC: About The Third Way
On Sunday, April 25, 1999, the President Clinton and the DLC hosted a historic roundtable discussion, The Third Way: Progressive Governance for the 21st Century, with five world leaders including British PM Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Dutch PM Wim Kok, and Italian PM Massimo D'Alema, the First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and DLC President Al From.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 22nd, 2011 at 09:04:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here - from a non-english speaking country, no less.

http://www.irishleftreview.org/2009/06/17/left-polemicist/

by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:25:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ireland is non-English-speaking!?

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:36:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ILR are fringe left?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:37:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I denounce your hegoministic anti-lacanism
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 11:31:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's spelled hegemonistic I believe.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 11:45:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you try wrestling with autocorrect.
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 11:52:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your autocorrect contains hegoministic?

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 11:52:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
no but it kept correcting to all sorts of even stranger words before i was able to get even an approximation.
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 12:16:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure and begorrah.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:37:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Look, the fact is that the PP vote is stable, they get 10 to 11 million no matter what, no matter what they propose or don't propose.

The PSOE vote oscillates between 7M and 11M because the left voters actually think for themselves and 1/3 of potential PSOE voters are not tribal so it does matter to them what the PSOE says or does.

The PP vote and the core PSOE vote conform to what Altemeyer calls 'right wing authoritarian'.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:22:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because unlike your Democrats, PES parties recognise (and use) a blocking minority.

There are various possible explanations for this, ranging from them being centre-left as opposed to the Democrats' centre-right, to blocking minorities being more difficult to form and the political system therefore not having evolved a consensus against using them.

But for the present purpose, the reason does not matter: The simple, and quite striking, reality is that throughout this crisis, Eurozone PES parties have been far more willing to use blocking minorities than governing majorities to push back against right-wing economic extremism. The contrast is remarkable. At least to anybody who has been paying attention.

It would help you form a cogent argument if you had passing acquaintance with recent political history on the continent you are attempting to describe.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 04:30:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How could I have overlooked the brilliant way the SD opposition has blocked austerity measures in ... um .. all those countries I don't know about?
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 09:17:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why, then, should we reward them with our vote?

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 09:20:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Votes are not rewards. They are political acts that should be done for advantage.

I vote for a somewhat weak local Democrat because I know that the voters in my locality would pick a much worse right winger if she failed. That's not a reward, it's self-preservation.

by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:06:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want the local party to replace the bums with someone better you don't vote for the bums.

Because Spain doesn't have open primaries, the only way sympathisers can pressure the parties is at the general election. Even acquaintances who are members of PSOE admit that, as members, they have little influence on who the cadres and candidates will end up being.

And, in this case, it's beginning to sound as if ZP and his entourage believe that the severity of the crisis, the economic environment they have had to act in, and the pressures they received from the EU to enact certain policies exonerate them so even after the worst election result since democracy was restored in 1977 the PSOE leadership intends to steer the party into the next Congress. I'm beginning to suspect ZP wants to directly influence the choice of his successor even though he didn't even run for a seat in parliament this time around.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:12:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course a vote is a reward. Do ut des. And politicians all over the world do know that they have to reward their voters or at least fake a reward.

It seems to be a special pathology of the american democrats that they don't want to recognize that. Say what you want about machine politicians, but they did understand that.

(The american right tends to call Obama a Chicago machine politician. I always sigh: "If only!")

by IM on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 10:27:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What a peculiar claim to be made in the middle of a discussion of how PSOE lost an election by chosing Mrs. Merkel over their own voters.

The problem is not that politicians are playing the game wrong, however, it is that activists are. The program advanced by NoLesVotes is to "punish" the main parties by assisting the PP to take power.  

by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 12:13:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The main parties are punished by voting for the minor parties, in part because the absence of open primaries prevent people from "primarying" the socialists-in-name-only. That the right wing won is seen as an acceptable side effect of trying to vote out the bums on your own side.

But, also, in countries with adequate PR systems the left gets their seat share whether it's split 50-0 or 30-20, so there's no problem whatsoever with getting 15% of the vote.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 12:52:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you think it worked? To me, and obviously I may be wrong, you still have a duopoly, but the worse side is now in power - and as you noted the PSOE leadership is excusing it own performance as due to exigencies.
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 12:58:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The PSOE leadership continue to work at lowering the chances I'll vote for them next time around by being self-righteous about being bastards.

And your point is?

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 07:21:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
>The problem is not that politicians are playing the game wrong, however, it is that activists are.<

That is an assertion you should try to prove.

Do you also think the electoral losses of 2010(democrats) and 2008 and 2006 (republicans) can be blamed on activists playing the game wrong? I would blame the economy, at least regarding 2010 and 2008.

The conservative irish government lost power too; I and conventional wisdom would explain that with the economic conditions. What is your explanation, Fianna fail activists staying at home?  

by IM on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 03:21:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think your views are extremely coloured by experience with majority first past the post system. In a proportional system, it's very possible for a small party to achieve more influence by being in opposition than being in government.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:01:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How could I have overlooked the brilliant way the SD opposition has blocked austerity measures in ...

The French PS shot down a constitutional suicide pact not dissimilar to the Spanish one not so long ago. The Spanish PSOE rammed one through while in government. With procedural legerdemain that one could have called a coup d'etat if one had been inclined to be legalistic about it. So tell me again how voting for PES parties helps shape the institutional landscape in the left's favour? 'Cause I really want to know.

um .. all those countries I don't know about?

Not my fault you haven't been paying attention.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 01:35:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh you mean the "golden rule" of Sarkozy which was designed to be an election gimmick. How brave of them. Oddly, the US Democrats just defeated a similar rule without needing to be in opposition. Perhaps the difference is that neither France nor the US at the time were truly worried about bond markets and did not need to go as far as Spain:

. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/074c8362-d55f-11e0-bd7e-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1eMtHqIfg

Others, however, regard the amendment as an empty gesture, since it allows for debt and deficit limits to be exceeded in times of economic recession or emergency situations that threaten "the financial situation or the economic or social sustainability of the state"

by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:06:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
<sigh> I expect you've got some evidence for that appreciation?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:15:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This appreciation:

rootless2:

the "golden rule" of Sarkozy which was designed to be an election gimmick
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:16:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IS that controversial?

PARIS -- President Nicolas Sarkozy has used the crisis over the euro and his relationship with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to set a potential political trap for the Socialist opposition less than nine months before the French presidential election.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/23/world/europe/23france.html

The measure is facing strong opposition from Socialists who say it's a publicity stunt in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election.

http://www.france24.com/en/20110727-golden-rule-sarkozy-socialist-party-roma-controversial-trees-can al-midi?page=7

François Hollande et Martine Aubry répondent que la ficelle est un peu grosse et qu'ils ne se laisseront pas entraîner dans «une opération de communication».

http://www.liberation.fr/politiques/01012351213-la-regle-d-or-le-joker-de-sarkozy
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 03:45:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was all the same not "designed to be an election gimmick". It was and is requested by Angela Merkel. Sarkozy's main policy effort for months now has been to stay closely hitched up to Germany whatever happens. He would surely have liked to make electoral capital out of doing the Congress show at Versailles, but he would also very seriously have wished to comply with the German request. What really put the kibosh on it was the PS victory in the elections to the Senate.

Sore losers, the Socialists.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 04:08:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you think the Socialists are not telling the truth?
by rootless2 on Tue Nov 22nd, 2011 at 11:24:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you're not reading what I'm saying. Which doesn't surprise me.

You know, if you're sincere, it's odd how you know every trick in the troll book.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 22nd, 2011 at 11:43:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is what you wrote:
<sigh> I expect you've got some evidence for that appreciation?

I then cited the NYTimes, the Socialist Party, and French TV.  If you don't like that evidence, I don't care.

by rootless2 on Tue Nov 22nd, 2011 at 07:08:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thread too narrow, so new top-level comment here.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2011 at 02:08:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rootless2:
Oddly, the US Democrats just defeated a similar rule without needing to be in opposition.

How brave of them.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:18:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The PSOE passed one while in government.

And now they're not.

Funny how that works.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:36:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The PP passed one while in opposition¹.
And now they're in government.

Funny how that works.

¹The collaboration of PP was necessary to achieve the needed quorum for constitutional amendments.

res humà m'és aliè

by Antoni Jaume on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:42:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite.

One non-trivial difference: The constitutional amendment in question is core PP policy.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:44:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The collapse of the Social Democratic state in Sweden shows many similarities to the collapse of the FDR democrats in the US.

Uh... what collapse? It's still the same old "socialist paradise" over here that it's been all my life, though it might never have been the utopian place that starry-eyed idealist foreigners might have conceived it to be. The center-right currently controls the government and is likely to keep doing that due to the weakness of the social democrats, but only by abandoning their old ideas and becoming third-wayist social democrats themselves.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 07:27:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i was under the impression that the government was privatizing rapidly and had only recently slowed the process because the far right is now a presence in the legislature and is worried about foreigners buying Swedish assets.

Perhaps I'm poorly informed.

by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 08:45:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There has been a general movement for deregulation and privatization in Sweden for the last 20 years. This has had certain positive effects (deregulation and privatization of telecoms and schools) and certain negative effects (deregulation of power market and railroads), of which neither have been earth-shattering nor system-changing. The entry of the populist right has indeed stopped some of the planned privatizations, which has been both bad and good, as some of those companies should really have been sold (Nordea, SBAB), while others absolutely should not (Vattenfall, except the foreign assets).

It's not a black and white picture.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 08:29:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No matter, it cannot be called "collapse of the Social Democratic state in Sweden".

Or actually, it could, and that's a very good thing. The Swedish welfare state is still in excellent shape, but the Social Democratic state, the so called "One party state", where the Party merged with state authorities, has collapsed. And good riddance!

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 08:31:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I get much darker picture of the situation from my swedish friends. However, they may be unusual swedes lacking the bubbly optimism that Swedes are famous for.
Or  they could just be wrong.
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 12:15:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, some of the more ideological pure Swedish leftwingers have an automatic response: that all privatizations by definition are bad. To me, that's just as absurd a view as the idea that all privatizations are good. Some things belong in the public sphere while some belong in the private. An astounding number of Swedish leftists held the in my mind absurd view that it was a bad idea to sell Absolut Vodka for a p/e ratio of 25-35 (or whatever it was in the summer of 2008. If you believe that was a bad idea, I suppose you might believe anything.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:47:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The local and regional elections were 6 months ago.
The PP vote gained 560k votes while the PSOE lost 1.5M (in terms of vote percentage, PSOE lost 1/5 of their share).
CiU gained 50k votes, IU 200k votes.

300 thousand votes went to the Basque independentist lists of Bildu in the Basque country. They got 35% of the vote in Gipuzkoa and won in Donostia/San Sebastian.

A new left nationalist party from Valencia got 180k votes.

A breakaway PP faction in Asturias got 121k votes (and in the regional elections they became the largest party).

UPyD, the party of a former Basque socialist leader, also contesting the municipal elections for the first time (the general will be their second), got 465k votes.

That's 1.1M votes to alternative left parties to compensate for a loss of 1.5M PSOE votes. Not bad.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 01:01:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The 300 thousands for Bildu would not have gone for the PSOE, so they don't compensate the loss of votes for the PSOE.

While I did not vote for IU, I expected them to get quite a few more votes then at least in the vote for the autonomous communities. Municipal elections are a different breed.

res humà m'és aliè

by Antoni Jaume on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 01:56:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Again: If you believe in quintupling the size of a party in a single election cycle, then you're sniffing glue, not engaging in political analysis.

Though from the look of it, UPyD almost quadrupled its vote.  The unfair Spanish electoral system robbed them of the benefits of that massive growth, so they only got 4 more seats (taking them to 5, rather than the 15 - 16 they would expect in a fair system)

by IdiotSavant on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 05:55:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So they quadrupled their vote but quintupled their seats...

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 05:59:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Compromis also quadrupled their vote in their region (Valencia) going from 30 thousand to 125 thousand and winning their first seat.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 06:01:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The system sees to give regional parties like CiU and aimaru a major advantage over t national parties with a similar or even bigger vote share like UPyD or IU.
by IM on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 07:24:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
D'Hondt with small constituencies will do that.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 01:38:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I prefer a more proportional system, and one in with the electoral circumscription would be the autonomous comunity, even with the current D'Hondt rule that last point would give more proportionality. However that would not solve the fact that the lists are closed and decided by the party.

res humà m'és aliè
by Antoni Jaume on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 01:42:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Finland has proportional representation with closed lists, but the order on the lists is decided by voter preference.

So you vote for party X and candidate 7 on their list. This appears to give parties an incentive to include smaller movements - if one of their candidates is popular enough to grab a seat, it is probable that the party gained at least a seat by including them. Of course, it also means you might get some Big Brother-winners in parliament.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 01:50:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the same system in Sweden, except that there are minimum vote limits so as to make it harder for voters to change the order the candidates are put in.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:11:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And since the minimum vote limit is in percentage of votes the party gets, the larger the constituencies, the higher the limit.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 03:41:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A really stupid rule, in my opinion, and glaringly obvious that the political parties try to steal away power that rightly should belong to the voters.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 04:14:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Similar to the way in Australia the "simplified" Senate voting system is not voting parties in preference order rather than individual Senate Candidates ... but instead voting one party above the line, and then your preferences flow as directed by the party.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 11:09:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"I suggest you familiarise yourself with the reality of parliamentary politics under proportional representation systems before you throw hissy fits at people who are actually doing something."

It pains me to admit it, but Jake has for once a point.
You can't just take the american two party, first past the post system  and assume that everything in other western democracies works in the same way. Even in the UK, regional third parties are quite viable. Say what you want about the SNP, but voting for them instead of Labour is hardly symbolic.

So you assumption that voting for a non PSOE party on the left is useless depends on what party and in what circumstances.

generally I don't think you should transfer your slights with the american "left" here. We are not just convenient replacements for the sector of the american left you don't like, after all.

by IM on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 11:48:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Voting for SNP or even De Linke is very different from voting for Ralph Nader in the US or for a splinter party in most of Spain.  I'm not against that at all. In fact, even in the US, there are places where third parties can and are effective. New York's Working Family Party is quite interesting. If you have a third party that is in position to win seats - why not?  My point was that the "plague on both houses" argument in favor of either sitting it out or voting symbolically, is a common argument. No Les Votes reads a lot like Michael Moore. I don't think it's a coincidence.
by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 03:46:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 >If you have a third party that is in position to win seats - why not?<

Then I don't get your point. What is your point?

 >My point was that the "plague on both houses" argument in favor of either sitting it out or voting symbolically, is a common argument.<

Is it? In my experience non voters, including non-voters who argue that all politicians are the same and equally useless are ideologically and politically all over the place. And hardly only common on the left.

In 2010 liberals did not actually abandon the democrats, but moderates, independents etc. And the groups who did vote in 2008 but not in 2010 were exactly the groups not terribly involved in politics anyway. Who sit out every mid-term election.

< No Les Votes reads a lot like Michael Moore. I don't think it's a coincidence.<

To get the idea you can protest with not voting you don't need Michael Moore. "If elections could change anything they would be illegal" is a lot older then your bete noire Michael Moore.

by IM on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 04:06:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is that if your third party is NOT in a position to win seats "PPSOE" and "Gore=Bush" are programs that advantage the right.

The right has a very clear message: for its own adherents the message is to go to the polls, for the opposition the message is that voting changes nothing. They work hard to sell apathy and disillusion to the majority - which is naturally against them. When the "left" cooperates in this marketing campaign, as they do with consistency, there is one beneficiary. This is a struggle that Saul Alinsky wrote about in the early 1970s in the US.  And I think that, although the history of claiming its all a fake is a long one, the argument that "we're going to punish/show/instruct" an insufficiently successful social democratic party by sitting it out or voting for Mickey Mouse seems to me to be a product of the 1970s.

by rootless2 on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 04:24:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it's ok to vote for viable third parties, I'm not sure what all your hot iar is all about. Spain has many viable third parties, and on the left, IU got record seats yesterday. Many former PSOE ostensibly found their true home on the left, outside of PSOE.

This is true in Greece as well, which has a strong Communist party. In Germany, Die Linke. In France, Front de Gauche. In the Netherlands, the Socialist Party, in many ways a model for us all, whose former leader Jan Marijnessen led the party nearly to official opposition not so long ago with a record score. In Denmark, the Enhedslisten. In Italy, the PRC. In Ireland, Sinn Féin. Most here get my point, I imagine.

Even close to you, in Canada, the centrist third-wayism of the Liberals was crushed by another left party, the NDP, who virtually annihilated the Liberals in Québec and in the process became the official opposition.

Everywhere one looks outside of the money-corrupted US "democratic" system, there is a viable left alternative to Third-wayism people like you propose as "the only pragmatic way". Perhaps you should, rather than hectoring us about how we should vote in our own countries, start asking yourself why there is no left alternative in your own country.

Hint, it likely isn't because a large segment of the population don't want one.

Another hint: you are most likely part of the problem, and not the solution.    

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 06:15:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Consider France where you have these "viable" third parties. In the last presidential elections
35% center right Sarkozy
25% weak social democrats
18% more center right
4% biggest communist party

Impressive!
However in the legislative elections - the PCF reached a stunning 4%.  Considering that through much of the post war period they were at 20%, one sees that the wheels of history are moving inexorably in their favor.

Viable!

by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 01:15:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
seats in the parliament the PCF has, nor how many in the Senate.

You also neglect to mention how well the same charismatic LCR leader did in the 2002 election, a lot more than 4%.

I also notice you appear to have bought into the end of history meme, a bit hastily.

I finally would remark that the fortunes of the left rise and fall; the PCF has been stronger of course than it was in the last two elections. But it was also weaker, including in the post-war period.

Again, I'm not sure what your point is, and I am sure I am not alone.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 01:31:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To me it's remarkable how happy many "on the left" are with being marginalized. Comfortable with losing. Secure in their own self-evaluation as "correct and principled" and happy to blame others for their inability to mobilize the population. The West's Left of the 21st century. Ready to write critiques of policies made by others.
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 01:46:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The PES parties were actually functioning social democratic parties until the first half of the '90s. Where for "social democratic" you should read "the parliamentary arm of the labour unions." There really wasn't any "left of the PES" policy space worth talking about until the third-wayers took over in the two election cycles around 1990.

Then we had ten years of third-wayers, whom the left supported - as you argue it should. It didn't become adequately obvious that this was a cul-de-sac, both electorally and politically, until two or three election cycles ago.

Since then, the left in most of Western Europe has been bootstrapping an organisation that can catch the votes the third-wayers are shedding. But it's not terribly surprising that voters move from the PES to the left through an election or two on the sofa. You may find this flirtation with the sofa party counterproductive. I would agree. You may even find it disappointing. But you can't pretend that it is unexpected.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:26:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't argue the left should "support" third wayers. I argue that people should vote tactically and that the tactic of not voting or voting for a party that cannot win seats to "punish" is a tactic that has been shown to not work very well.
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 03:48:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The left overwhelmingly does vote tactically.

You will notice that it's centre-left voters who stay home, because they cannot bring themselves to vote for the left, and won't hold their nose and vote for the centre-right.

And... remind me again how enthusiastically you endorsed the primary challenge against Lieberman?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 04:04:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Liberman - you mean the critical vote that passed the most significant infrastructure investment in 50 years and the historic health care reform? That guy? I sent money to his opponent, however, I had little hope because the opponent had turned his campaign into a progressive joke and because the right voted tactically for someone they hated.  See how that works? They knew they could not win the seat for someone they wanted, but they could get a 50% win by denying the seat to the Democrat. That's why the right authors laws and the left authors papers about Lacanian interpretation of civil liberties (c.f. Zizek).
by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 04:20:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I see how that worked: The state went from being contested by an Independent and a Republican to being contested by a Democrat and the same Independent.

Net result: The Independent went to DC, the Democrats got practical experience in organising a campaign. If they learned from that and do better next time, that was a net win. If they didn't learn and won't do better next time, it was neither a win nor a loss relative to the alternative.

Considering how well you appreciate the importance of practical on-the-ground organisation for left-wing political groups, I would have thought that you would see the value in that sort of exercise.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 05:00:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My experience is the opposite.

As some here might have noticed, I am a member of the Swedish Pirate Party. Despite gaining no seats in national parliament elections, political successes to date includes having converted about 10% to a position of supporting legalisation of filesharing and having the EU Data Storage Directive postponed time and again, despite Sweden being one of the driving countries for enacting that Directive in the first place.

I think proportional elections make all the difference. Since all votes affects the seats, parties need to protect their flanks in another way and are therefore more sensitive to challenges, even if those fails to take away seats in the short run.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 04:40:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
lefties.

I know more than a few and I don't know anyone who is happy about being out of power or who likes losing. We campaign to win, and we vote tactically in the second round. As for the party, it certainly criticises the right-wing policies being adopted by Sarkozy (and also by so-called social democrats like Zapatero in Spain) but also proposes policies and, when in power in coalition, enacts them.

I don't know anyone who feels marginalised either.

Again, you cut a ridiculous figure here, projecting upon people here, many of whom are in fact politically active and engaged, your phobias about US strawmen and women of your own construction.

Let me ask you: have you ever been in Europe even? And if so, for more than a two-week vacation?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Nov 22nd, 2011 at 05:46:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've never left Borracho Junction Texas, my home town.  But, thanks to Fox, I have a good idea what happens in Europe and other parts of Africa.

There. Feel happier now?

by rootless2 on Wed Nov 23rd, 2011 at 03:07:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Many European former communist parties are in the minds of many voters tarred by their collaboration and or political support of the Soviet dictatorship, and rightly so in my mind, unless they clearly and unequivocally condemn their history, and stop current support for such nations (Cuba, North Korea etc). Of course, this does not apply to all European communist parties (I believe the Italian communists stopped any support of the Soviets long before the fall of the Berlin wall, for example).

This is the conundrum of the left: while the more extreme left parties still can't make themselves see what awfulness they supported during the cold war and ask for forgiveness (keeping the large voter masses alienated), the end of the Soviet empire also made the more mainstream left (soc-dems) lose all belief in socialism, and replaced it with an absolutely theological belief in markets, everywhere and always, the so called third-way.

What is needed is either to have the extreme left once and for all clear out the skeletons from the wardrobes (which is unlikely until more time has passed and the perps have retired), or have the soc-dems accept that what they've been doing since 1991 to a large degree has been stupid. This is not very likely either, as we'll need to wait even longer until all those guys retire. This is especially clear as even with a golden chance, the collapse for the current model of global capitalism, a rupture of the same magnitude as that of the fall of the Soviet empire, the left has managed to do absolutely nothing. A free kick of astronomical proportions has been wasted.

So, what is to be done? I believe what is needed is mainly new ideas, new people. All the old forces of the left are either spent or contaminated or just out of touch. A fresh start is needed, to produce people equipped with the intellectual tools needed to deal with the world as it actually is (yes, this means they have to look at lots of graphs). This of course all sounds very fluffy, but I do feel that the ET is doing its part. Funnily, one of the main tools of spreading the new ideas, is the Financial Times, the world most secret source of subversive socialist propaganda. I suppose there's a reason they only let the elite read it. :)


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:29:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But you ignore how the french system, actually works: because you need as a rule two rounds, in the first round everybody can indulge his political inclinations fully. Here is the place to show your purity or make a protest or a symbolic vote.
More neutrally, you can vote your first preference.

In the second round then there is place for pragmatism and the voting for the lesser evil. And indeed:

Nicolas Sarkozy UMP    18,983,138    53.06%
Ségolène Royal    PS    16,790,440    46.94%

As you can see, Royal had no problems to gather the left and also got some voters from UDF or FN. Wasn't enough, but would the second round really been different if Royal got 31% in the first round like Sarkozy?

And the same game is played in parliamentary elections, but here in some constituencies the green or communist candidate will make it to the second round and then expect the socialist voters to vote for him. Mostly works.

I won't claim that  this is a perfect system, but the voters use it competent enough.

by IM on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:55:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I used the first round to show how marginal the left parties are - those to the left of the despised social democrats - really are.

It is inutile in the extreme to complain that the Social democrats have "betrayed" a left that has minimal public support.

by rootless2 on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 03:54:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The first round of the 2007 presidential election was the least significant when it comes to minor party support on the left, because of what happened in the first round in 2002 - an election that showed that most people on the left would rather vote for someone else than the SocDem candidate...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 06:13:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll just add that according to most opinion polls at this point, the only thing standing between the Greek left beyond the socialists and government, is a willingness to collaborate on a minimum programme. The numbers are there. The far right party leader now in government (with the consent of the "socialists", I note) is ringing alarms that Greece might become a "Cuba of the Mediterranean"...
Greece on the austerity disaster schedule is a year ahead of Portugal and Ireland, and perhaps a couple from the rest. Keep that in mind in the extremely unlikely scenario under which this whole austerity scheme doesn't collapse on all of us...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 04:52:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IU (united left) is left of PSOE and will go form 2 to 8-10 seats in the parliament.

Equo is a new green left party - they could pick up 1 or 2 seats.

UPyD is a splinter party top-heavy with formerly-PSOE-allied intelligentsia. It will go from 1 seat to 4 or 5. It's questionable to what extent they are to the "left" of the PSOE. Their original rallying call was opposing Zapatero's compromising stance with the peripheral nationalists. The fact that under ZP's watch ETA ended their terrorist campaign, as kcurie says in the diary, no longer matters much to anyone. UPyD is austere, just like the PSOE and PP, because they want to be "serious".

No right-wing party will gain seats other than possible the Catalan ugly party.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 12:57:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Equo is a new green left party - they could pick up 1 or 2 seats.

So there is no "old" green party? Why? Never been tried?

by IM on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 01:16:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Never been other than splintered three ways.

They have been successful in Catalonia (Iniciativa per Catalunya - Verds) and Valencia.

The electoral system does not help. Spain has a proportional representation system but only just. It uses the d"hondt method with relatively small constituencies (average constituency size is 7, median is 5, a new party can only hope to get a seat in Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia which elect 34, 33 and 17 seats respectively give or take one seat).

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 01:32:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see.   Good for big national parties and regional parties. Bad for small and middling national parties without a regional concentration.
So in this case they will hope to get one in Madrid - big constituency and Valencia - traditional stronghold and hope if everything goes well to get another one in Barcelona.

Seems to rather discourage to build up a organization in, say, Galicia.  

by IM on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 01:46:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Galicia is big enough to have a regional party, the BNG. The real problem is that rural, and lowly populated, provinces have each two seats, and that means that only the two main parties have a stand in them. And they lean mostly to the right, so it is to be expected that they may give two diputados to the PP.

res humà m'és aliè
by Antoni Jaume on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 02:03:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Antoni

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 02:08:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Spain there are like 5 or 6 green parties. The only one relevant enough was in a coalition in Catalonia with the left.

Outside catalonia, the ex-communist structures prevented any kind of union.

Now, a big green party has appeared... let's hope it gets some representation.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 01:33:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Polls suggesting a seat for Equo in the new parliament make that a Valencia seat, not a Madrid seat. So the most visible party leadership fail to get in, and the Valencia seat is probably due to their alliance with the natinalist Compromis list.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 02:23:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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