The party systems of Europe since 1945 have been defined by the division between one large center-left and one large center-right party with usually smaller parties of the center, left, or right. However, in the 21st century and especially since 2010, the center-left has seen its support plunge across Europe with a few notable exceptions. The Socialist Party of France in 2017 held the presidency and controlled the National Assembly. Nevertheless, not even three years later, the party is on the verge of extinction and beset by numerous splits. The Social Democratic Party of Germany has seen its support plunge and is faces challenges from the left by the Greens and the right by the Alternative for Germany (AfD). The question is then what explains this rapid and sometimes very sudden decline. Is there a longer-term shift in European party systems away from larger center-left parties to new alternatives, or is there another explanation? This article proposes that changing values have resulted in further political polarization. Voters are now concerned with identity and immigration issues, while materialist values have been deemphasized in recent years. Using a case study method, we analyze situations in Britain, France, Germany, and Italy and attempt to find common patterns and find answers to what is happening. We ultimately find that internal issues like lack of coherent messaging, poor leadership, and internal division have likely compounded the effects of political polarization and undermined the party's efforts to restore their electoral prospects.
Cox, Jacob S.
"PASOKification: Fall of the European Center Left or a Transformation of the System,"
Governance: The Political Science Journal at UNLV: Vol. 6
, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalscholarship.unlv.edu/governance-unlv/vol6/iss2/5