May 19, 2011

NOW WHERE DO THEY FIND A PILLAR OF CAPITALISM?:

The fall of Strauss-Kahn shows the left needs more than a leader (New Statesman, 19 May 2011)

When Europe's social democrats staged their first Progressive Governance Conference in 1999, the centre left held power in 13 of the European Union's 15 member states. Since then, the left has lost ground in almost every country. Just eight of the European parties that attended a similar gathering in Oslo between 12 and 13 May are in government.

Amid the gloom, delegates consoled themselves with the thought that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the presumptive French Socialist Party candidate, would likely defeat Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's presidential election and become the second Socialist leader of the Fifth Republic. But Mr Strauss-Kahn's arrest on suspicion of attempted rape has put paid to such hopes. Whether or not he is found guilty (and he maintains his innocence), both his candidacy and his political career are over.

The downfall of the man France knows as "DSK" is undoubtedly a blow to the French left. As the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he steered that institution, hitherto a bastion of neoliberalism, in a more progressive direction with his support for fiscal stimulus and his emphasis on job creation. Opinion polls consistently showed that he was the candidate with the best chance of denying Mr Sarkozy a second term in the Élysée Palace. But it is symptomatic of the crisis of the French left that many Socialists have already resigned themselves to defeat in 2012. A progressive party should never have allowed itself to become so dependent on one man.

In his recent lecture on the crisis of the European centre left, David Miliband noted: "It is ironic but deeply indicative that it takes a man with the economic credibility of IMF managing director to give the French left its best chance of winning its first presidential election in four."


Posted by at May 19, 2011 5:45 AM
  

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