Fac­ing a new en­vi­ron­ment

Why Europe’s left are in de­cline

The Ukrainian Week - - NEIGHBOURS - Michael Binyon,

The col­lapse of the Left in the French pres­i­den­tial elec­tion has been spec­tac­u­lar. Not only did Benoit Ha­mon, the can­di­date of­fi­cially rep­re­sent­ing the So­cial­ist party of Pres­i­dent Hol­lande, re­ceive a de­risory 7% of the votes; the fire­brand Marx­ist Jean-Luc Me­len­chon, whose lively cam­paign­ing saw a late surge of sup­port, was also knocked out of the race. The de­ci­sive sec­ond round of vot­ing next month will there­fore be a con­test be­tween the in­de­pen­dent cen­trist, Em­manuel Macron, and the xeno­pho­bic and na­tion­al­ist can­di­date of the far right, Marine Le Pen, who is cam­paign­ing to take France out of the euro and even out of the Euro­pean Union.

The wide­spread anger with the French politi­cal es­tab­lish­ment has led vot­ers to kick out can­di­dates from both the es­tab­lished par­ties – the con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­cans and the So­cial­ists. But the blow has been es­pe­cially wound­ing to the left. The So­cial­ist party may now dis­in­te­grate.

The left’s trou­bles are mir­rored across the Chan­nel in Bri­tain, where the Labour party’s dis­ar­ray is prov­ing dis­as­trous for tra­di­tional left-wing vot­ers. Few elec­tion cam­paigns in Bri­tain have be­gun with such over­whelm­ing sup­port for the govern­ment. Theresa May’s Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment now en­joys an ap­proval rat­ing of around 50% – higher than the party has seen at any time since the height of Mar­garet Thatcher’s pop­u­lar­ity in the 1980s. It is on course to win a land­slide vic­tory, with a ma­jor­ity in the 650-seat Par­lia­ment of about 100 seats.

The Labour party, by con­trast, is suf­fer­ing a dis­as­trous de­cline. Lat­est polls put it at around 25%. And in some parts of the coun­try, es­pe­cially Scot­land and south-east Eng­land, it may win no seats at all. Even the party’s MPs are de­spair­ing

Fewer words, please. Pro­test­ers call on the world to act in Syria as the UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Cor­byn speaks of hu­man rights in Lon­don. Over­all, the left in the West have been crit­i­cised for a fee­ble re­ac­tion to the crimes of the likes of As­sad and Putin

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