The resounding victory for George Papandreou’s Pasok party in Greece’s snap poll somewhat bucks the trend across the rest of Europe where Social-Democracy is on the back foot.
The most recent example was the crushing defeat suffered by Germany’s Social Democrats in last month’s general election. The result was the left of centre party’s worst since the Second World War. It was a hard fact to swallow for the SPD’s leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier. ‘‘The result is a bitter day for German Social Democracy,’‘ Steinmeier said. ‘‘There is no way of talking around it: this is a bitter defeat…” The result in Germany suggests the current political climate favours Europe’s centre right, but it may not be all doom and gloom for the left. Antonio Missiroli from European Policy Centre said: “I would say that there are different political cycles also across the European Union and they do not always coincide in the details. Let’s not forget that last week there was another Socialist party that did reasonably well in Portugal. So there are two or three governments led by Socialist parties, especially in the South of Europe, maybe there is something there that has to be looked at”. One of those party’s was the Portuguese Socialists of Jose Socrates. They held on to power in last month’s national vote despite Portugal suffering from the worldwide downturn. Even so, the party lost its overall majority. Portugal, Greece, Spain, Britain, Slovenia and Hungary are currently the only EU country’s led by Socialists or left-leaning parties. In the Netherlands and Austria, they are in coalition governments with the centre-right. In Spain, there are signs that Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s ruling Socialists are struggling. One recent poll showed 72 percent of people had lost confidence in the prime minister to lead the country as it tries to recover from recession. There is a similar situation in Britain where Prime Minister Gordon Brown faces a tough task holding onto power. His ruling Labour Party lags way behind in the polls, with election day looming.