Back to basics – Reflections on the future of social democracy
The global financial crisis has resulted in significant changes of the European political landscape. In this way, the points of reference for political parties have been fundamentally changed. A major influence in this context is the decline in significance of leftist and progressive parties as observed across all EU Member States. This decline leaves a vacuum that is often thrust into by far right populist movements. One example is Austria, that has been shaped by Social Democracy for decades. Here, the Liberty Party manages to present itself as a social homeland party. Even though this is not backed up by policy competence, the aggressively presented slogans often also appeal to a formerly social democratic electorate.
Similar developments can also be observed in other EU Member States. Their concrete level of peculiarity depends on the corresponding political culture, the institutional setting as well as the quality of mass media. These far right populist movements of course do not only maneuver along classic focal points including nationalism, racism, xenophopia or the restoration of traditional values. A central topic of the far right discourse is marked by the concentration on social exclusion. The promise to re-establish social justice is particularly appealing to those that have been left behind in the modernization and globalization processes or have been affected by the global financial crisis.