This contribution comes from Giacomo Comincini (19) who is the coordinator of the Italian branch of the Foreign Friends of Catalonia association.
European elections often prove to be reliable thermometers when it comes to numerically measuring the political mood throughout the Continent. The 2019 edition was no exception.
No one can miss the importance of the message that voters sent to the parties that have traditionally funnelled society towards the lawmaking process. It appears clear, I think, to everybody that the entire political spectrum paradigma has just been blatantly questioned by the electorate.
The outcomes across Europe show both local peculiarities and transnational convergent trends. Generally speaking, we see a drastic decline of the old Conservative-Socialist duality and witness the rise of Liberal, Green, regionalist and reactionary movements. The shabby oligopoly gives way to a crisp multipolarism.
I understand the bewilderment that many fellow progressive friends feel right now, especially the ones belonging to the Social Democratic tradition. French columnist coined, back in 2012, the word pasokisation in order to describe the tragic destiny that the Greek centre-left was facing. Back then they had no idea that the same French Socialist Party was heading to the same fate: extinction. Only few parties within that grouping show some sort of resilience; most of them are just inclined towards decline.
In conclusion, the Labourite political stream now represents a tighter social block and will need to be open to alliances and pacts with other forces in order to win elections again. Here’s, indeed, an interesting figure: the percentage of votes that the sum of progressive forces in Europe received rose from 44,3% (in 2014) up to 49,7% (in 2019). That means a plural centre-left alliance is more capable of representing a more and more heterogeneous progressive base.
This reasoning might perfectly fit for an analysis of the UK political situation. Labour under Jeremy Corbyn has been able to recover from the 2015 bad results and recuperate the working class support. The party’s ambiguity on Brexit, however, brings urban middle class progressives towards the resurgent Liberal Democrats and the Greens, while peripheral groups may be driven to the progressive nationalist parties. Moreover, many Leave voters could turn their back again on Labour and side with the Brexit Party, which we should not imprudently regard as a one hit wonder.
If elections were held today, it’s hard to imagine that the first-past-the-post system could provide a stable majority for a single party. Instead, I’m led to believe the results would eventually force parties to come together and inaugurate an era of wide and generous accords.
Apertis verbis, an early sign of this positive spirit is the co-operative attitude that led Greens and Plaid to support Lib Dems in Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, last Thursday. This victory should serve as a model for the future campaign strategies.
Let me add a personal note. My best friend happens to be British. He’s about to depart from Italy and return home for his periodic visit to his country, and it causes me much pain that his country could face such shameful consequences because of the wicked attitude of the inept Tory leadership. International solidarity has always been a defining patrimony of progressives, since Epicurus. Let’s not kick this virtuous habit. That’s why I’m standing up for my fellow European citizens in the United Kingdom.
Liberal Democrats can foment their momentum and acquire renewed protagonism within the progressive block. They just need to succeed in adopting a reformist, green and modern platform and to set the ground for a courageous agreement with the other political forces. The case for a progressive entente holds true. The issue is more current than ever before and I’m proud to make it alongside the Social Liberal Forum.