Reformism in a ‘conservative’ system
The European Union and social democratic identity
in In search of social democracy

This chapter integrates the issue of social democratic programmatic identity into the new framework constituted by the European Union (EU). The EU suffers from a lack of political leadership: it is a 'leaderless' superpower. The EU is undermining three of the most essential elements in the formation of social democracy's historical identity: the state-oriented culture of social democratic appeal; welfare politics and, therefore, the link with the working class; the broad primacy of politics orientation. The great programmatic flexibility of contemporary social democratic parties is at bottom a flexibility respectful of the basic economic orientations of the Brussels mainstream. Not to respect this mainstream would be to block or destabilise the EU. To respect it is to further destabilise social democracy's historical identity. There is no easy solution to this dilemma, which is both a policy dilemma and a problem of identity.

In search of social democracy

Responses to crisis and modernisation

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