“What happened to the left? asked the Mulino. On paper, social democratic parties may still be social democratic, but what really happens in politics? The Italian newspaper looks beyond the country’s borders to compare: the future of German social democracy; the French left in the Macron era; the Iberian exception in Spain and Portugal; the return of the Balkan left; Russia without the left; the disappearance of the Israeli left.
While focusing on the problems, the Mulino also offers solutions. In his book La sfida delle disuguaglianza. Contro il declino della sinistra (“The Challenge of Inequality: Countering the Decline of the Left”), Carlo Trigilia explained how the left can counter growing inequality within Western democracies. He considers that endogenous institutions are at the origin of social inequalities and sees economic growth as a brake when it is badly redistributed.
Colin Crouch, Lucio Baccaro and Michele Salvati respond to Trigilia, who in turn comments on their arguments. Crouch, the political scientist who coined the term “post-democracy”, disputes Trigilia’s suggestion that “the more distinct and specific the representation of certain interests assumed by parties, as in deliberative democracies, the less there will be voters”. Crouch counters that “deliberative democracy favors … new coalitions, which once formed, favor the advocates of equality”.
The economist Baccaro agrees with Trigilia “that the revival of inclusive economic growth and the renaissance of the left are closely associated”. According to Baccaro, “neither will exist without critically re-examining certain sacred cows, including the constraints of the single currency”. He proposes that a “people’s left must attract the happy medium, those who are weakened and made precarious, starting with increasing incomes to reduce inequalities”.
In response to the economist Michele Salvati, who characterizes Italy as “a weak and poorly organized state, unable to confront the challenge of inequality except through propaganda”, Trigilia writes: “The central problem to which politics and the left in particular have to face is not inequality, but political weakness and the inefficiency of the state.
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