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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.
Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
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?
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.
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
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