Schröder’s Legacy Still Relevant to German Left

The German Social Democrats’ draft election manifesto released last week revealed two things: they are at once haunted by their past and have learned from it.

Ten years ago, Germany’s Social Democrat chancellor Gerhard Schröder initiated far-reaching economic and social reforms. While there is ongoing academic debate about whether these reforms are solely responsible for the resilient German economy (PDF) and labor market (PDF), there is widespread agreement that they are at least part of the nation’s current success.

This puts the party’s contender for the chancellorship, Peer Steinbrück, in a delicate position, not least since he was one of the strongest supporters of Schröder’s agenda. Incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is in the comfortable position of continuing to run with a program that was originally designed by the left yet showed in many parts an ideological affinity with the economic right.

Steinbrück and the chairman of his party, Sigmar Gabriel, are trying to find the middle ground between maintaining the inheritance of their successful reforms and the necessity of presenting themselves as an alternative to Merkel’s conservatives. Read more “Schröder’s Legacy Still Relevant to German Left”

Miliband Repudiates New Labour at His Party’s Peril

Speaking at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester on Tuesday, Britain’s opposition leader Ed Miliband seemed keen to distance himself from the “New Labour” program of his predecessors.

New Labour under Prime Minister Tony Blair in the 1990s signaled a more centrist socialist party that accepted many of the market reforms that were implemented in the previous decade by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government and broadened Labour’s electoral appeal to middle-class voters. It was ideologically aligned to President Bill Clinton’s “Third Way” in the United States which preserved the fiscal and trade policies of the previous Republican administrations.

According to Miliband, New Labour was “was too silent about the responsibility of those at the top,” however. He argued that the wealthy “have the biggest responsibility to show responsibility to the rest of our country,” in other words: should pay higher taxes. Read more “Miliband Repudiates New Labour at His Party’s Peril”