As the Greek debt crisis took hold in the wake of the financial crash, there was one big political casualty. The main centre-left party PASOK — which had dominated Greek politics since the early eighties — collapsed, going from a comfortable 43.9 per cent of the vote to 13.2 per cent in 2012. A decade on, the party has failed to recover – and the grim news for Keir Starmer’s Labour party is that it faces its own version of Pasokification, one where the fall is slow rather than spectacular, and in which the left could find itself trapped.
It might be hard to imagine British politics without the Labour party, but then again take a look at what has unfolded across Europe in recent years: the story of PASOK’s implosion has replicated itself across the continent. Centre-left parties, who in the past two decades had moved away from their roots and transformed into champions of globalisation and neoliberal economics — the so-called ‘Third Way’ — fell apart. This process, for better or worse, is still ongoing. Labour looks like it might be next.
The party has been out of power for 11 years and its prospects in the next elections are bleak. So will Labour follow the fate of its sister parties from the continent? It is, unfortunately, much worse than that. If we examine the dynamics that led to the demise of social democratic parties in Europe, there is a clear tendency for their support to then flow into parties to their left and right.
On the left, in Spain you have Podemos, currently governing in coalition with PSOE. In Germany, the Greens, poised to even win the next federal elections. In Greece, you had Syriza, and a host of smaller parties.