66th PSA International Annual Conference
Brighton 21-23 March 2016
Call for Papers
“Episode V: The Left Strikes Back”
The SNP’s landslide victory in Scotland at the UK general elections in May 2015; Podemos’ performance in the Spanish local elections during the same month; more recently, Syriza’s second consecutive success at the Greek general elections on September 20, and also Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour Party leader on 12 September 2015 can be viewed as signs of a ‘revitalisation’ of left.
Notwithstanding the differences among these cases, these successes appear to have common roots. In particular, they appear to stem from a reaction against the neo-liberal autsterity policies which have been heralded as a ‘necessary evil’ by many centre-right parties in office across Europe. It is no coincidence that whilst weak macro-economic signals are now suggesting that the economy is gradually picking up again, the consensus of the left across Europe is increasing.
Against this complex background, we feel that this ‘new leftist wave’ begs for a more in-depth investigation – not least because the cases outlined above embody very different understandings of core values, political agendas, public policy priorities, and attitudes towards grassroots politics and participative decision-making.
This panel aims to assess whether the recent success of left-wing parties across Europe is only short-lived or if this can be read as a signal of a longer-term shift in electoral preferences. We invite papers that explore these topics, looking at Italy, the UK, Spain and Greece in a comparative perspective. Authors are invited to present analyses – based on strong theoretical and methodological frameworks – centred on (but not limited to) the following questions: What are the reasons that lie behind the electoral successes of left-wing parties in these countries, for instance to what extent have the use of new media, charismatic leadership and populist narratives played a role? What are the differences and commonalities between these cases? What are the tensions within these parties? How do these parties interrelate with their opponents across the political spectrum? What does the future hold for these political formations, both within each country and as determinant forces in the EU? What these successes tell us about the transformation of party systems in Western Europe?