Mapping the left-wing of global social democracy

Whether called factions, currents, tendencies or platforms, there are often organised and sometimes formalised left-leaning groups within or seeking to pressure social democratic parties. Within the Australian Labor Party, it’s the Labor Left but what about elsewhere in the world?

While factionalism does not exist to the same extend within British Parliamentary Labour Party, there are left-wing pressure groups such as Compass, Next Generation Labour and those much further to the left such as the Labour Representation Committee. There are others that organise slates for internal elections such as Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy. In Scotland, there is the Campaign for Socialism.

In other sister labour parties, left-wing groups have emerged and disappeared. For example, inside Irish Labour, left-wing members established the Campaign for Labour Policies trying to outline an alternative to the austerity agenda being pursued by the current Fine Gael-Labour Coalition Government. In Canada, there was the New Politics Intiative that believed the New Democratic Party was moving too far to the Right and sought to integrate social movements into the party that disbanded in the mid-2000s.

Outside of the English-speaking world, left-wing groupings are far less known due to language barriers.

The German Social Democratic Party, for example, has a Parliamentary Left grouping that has existed since the 1970s and an aligned think-tank, Forum Democratic Left (DL21).

Other more factionalised social democratic parties have a more diverse range of left-wing groups that appear and disappear. Within the French Socialist Party,  there appear to be a range of other institutionalised left-wing groupings at a party and youth level. The main left faction appears to be Maintenant la gauche who have opposed Hollande’s austerity agenda. Another recent notable grouping to emerge is the Socialistes Affligés led by former MEP Liem Hoang Ngoc and university professor and Guardian columnist Philippe Marliere which includes those outside of the French PS who are seeking a possible “red-rose-green” alliance to force a left turn and avoid emulating PASOK.

Some other parties have recognised factions exist and incorporated their recognition into party rules. For example, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) has recognised the Izquierda Socialista or Socialist Left faction and even provides space on the party website. Under the Italian Democratic Party’s rules, groups can be established and can operate autonomously. They have been actively promoted as it has sought to become a broad-based party that includes all those from the centre to the left. The main left-wing grouping that currently exists is Remake Italy.

Given the known links between the moderate or “right-wing” of social democratic and labour parties (e.g. Labor Right and British Labour’s Progress) and the transfer of ideas via these relationships, the social democratic left should also seek to identity the “left-wing” of sister parties, build and strengthen these relationships.

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