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The Collapse Of European Social Democracy, Part 2 – Paul Sweeney.

In the first part of his analysis Paul Sweeney pointed to a variety of causes behind the decline of social democracy over the past 30 years or more. In this second part he looks at wider economic and social trends since the 2008 crisis, including the ever-widening gap between rich and poor and growth in inequality, and concludes that social democrats must revaluate and revalue the role of the (benign) state – not least in defending precious liberties.


Social Democrats embraced conservative parties’ populist appeals for low taxes on incomes, inheritances and, particularly, on corporates profits. Thomas Piketty has shown how far taxes on top incomes and wealth have been reduced over decades from rates over 90 percent on incomes in the USA, Germany, Britain and France in the 1950s to less than half of that today. There was also a pronounced shift to more regressive taxes on consumption. This impacted the poor most – traditional SD supporters. Industrial-scale tax avoidance and evasion enabled by hyper-globalisation went unaddressed.

Social Europe

The Collapse Of European Social Democracy, Part1 – Paul Sweeney.

Social Democracy is a political philosophy that supports intervention by the state in the economy and society to promote social justice. At its heart are Keynesian economics and the welfare state. SD favours a strong state over the market. SD used the power of the state to ensure that markets worked for all. It seeks progress by reform rather than by revolution within liberal democracies.

In 2000, Social Democrats or Socialists were part of government in ten out of the fifteen countries that then made up the European Union. In late 2018, they are in government in two states and in coalition governments in just 7 of the 28 member states.

Social Europe