New Political Party in Britain, Room for Party in Germany

Anti-Brexiteers start a new political party. In Germany, there is room for a new party on the left.

View of the Palace of Westminster in London, England
View of the Palace of Westminster in London, England (Unsplash/Simon Mason)

Anti-Brexit campaigners have launched a new political party in the United Kingdom: Renew.

The party aims to be a “vehicle for people who feel politically homeless,” said James Clarke, one of its three co-leaders.

EurActiv reports that the party claims to have more than 450 applications from candidates to run for the 650-seat House of Commons.

Britain’s first-past-the-post system doesn’t make it easy for newcomers. The last time a major party broke through was in the 1920s, when Labour overtook the Liberals as the largest party on the left.

But the Conservatives and Labour have left the center wide open, the former by embracing the reactionary cause of Brexit, the latter by electing the far-left Jeremy Corbyn as leader. Somebody was bound to try to fill that hole.

The trouble with centrism

From Janan Ganesh’s latest column:

The beauty of the technocratic center ground is that very little blood is spilled in its name. The weakness is that it leaves some people ravenous for more fulfilling ideologies.

The trouble for those who have been in power in the West for the last few decades is that their detractors do not accuse them of failing to provide material improvements. “Theirs is less a denial of material progress than a lamentation that progress is all too real,” writes Ganesh.

You need not share this anti-modern anguish — I do not — to see its political power. What is Brexit if not the sacrifice of some material advantage for the less quantifiable pleasure of a more familiar society? The galling thing for liberals is that this quest for something beyond economic comfort rather takes that hard-won comfort for granted.

No communitarian leftists in Germany

Andreas Nölke, a political scientist at Goethe University, makes a good point: Germany lacks a communitarian left-wing party. Die Linke, the Greens and Social Democrats are all cosmopolitan.

Communitarian-inclined voters have no electoral choice other than the [Alternative], even though they may be uncomfortable with its nationalist, oftentimes racist discourse.

I would place Die Linke somewhere in between cosmopolitan and communitarian, but Nölke is broadly correct and his analysis applies to other Western democracies as well: by and large, center-left parties have lost touch with working-class voters, whose only recourse is the far right.

According to a poll published in Bild, the Alternative for Germany is now more popular, at 16 percent support, than the Social Democrats, at 15.5 percent.

Poll blackout in Italy

No more polling between now and March 4, when Italians vote.

The most recent surveys give the Five Star Movement 26-28 percent support, the Democrats 21-23 percent, Forza Italia 15-17 percent and the Northern League 13-15 percent.

James Politi writes in the Financial Times that the polls only need to be off by a few points to give the right a majority. That does hinge on the neofascist Brothers of Italy crossing the 5-percent election threshold, though.

American millennials defect

David Faris reports for The Week that young Americans are leaning more and more Democratic:

A 2017 Pew poll found that fully a quarter of young Republicans had defected to the Democrats since 2015.