Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The False Promise of a New Left

I have recently written an article as part of a series  on the Polish left that is being published on the openDemocracy site. My article is partly in response to one written by the Palikot Movement MP Anna Grodzka, and argues that the Palikot Movement does not offer a viable alternative for the left

It is correct to begin an analysis of the Polish left with a critique of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) government from 2001 to 2005. Since this time, the left has been a minority force in Polish politics, a politics now dominated by two parties from the right. However, rather than Grodzka’s party, Palikot’s Movement (RP), offering a viable alternative to the SLD, RP tends to repeat the previous mistakes of the left by placing itself within a liberal economic framework, and thereby restricting its potential growth.

The rise and decline of the SLD

The 2001 parliamentary elections marked the high-point for the SLD and the project of creating a social democratic party out of the remains of the formerly ruling Communist party. Despite (or perhaps because of) its associations with this previous regime, the SLD was able to rapidly hegemonise the left of the Polish political scene and by 1995 it held both presidential and parliamentary power. Although it lost the 1997 elections, it still increased its share of the vote and was well situated to take advantage of the disastrous right-wing coalition government that had pushed the country into economic stagnation, causing soaring unemployment. Despite the reservations many may have had with the SLD, at this time it was able to present itself as the party most likely to improve the living standards of working people and the poor. In 2001 it won over 40% of the vote and went on to form its second coalition government with the Peasants’ Party.     Read further.......

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