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HandWiki. History of Democratic Socialism. Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/35775 (accessed on 16 April 2024).
HandWiki. History of Democratic Socialism. Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/35775. Accessed April 16, 2024.
HandWiki. "History of Democratic Socialism" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/35775 (accessed April 16, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 22). History of Democratic Socialism. In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/35775
HandWiki. "History of Democratic Socialism." Encyclopedia. Web. 22 November, 2022.
History of Democratic Socialism
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Democratic socialism represents the modernist development of socialism and its outspoken support for democracy. The origins of democratic socialism can be traced back to 19th-century utopian socialist thinkers and the Chartist movement in Great Britain, which somewhat differed in their goals but shared a common demand of democratic decision making and public ownership of the means of production, and viewed these as fundamental characteristics of the society they advocated for. Democratic socialism was also heavily influenced by the gradualist form of socialism promoted by the British Fabian Society and Eduard Bernstein's evolutionary socialism. In the 19th century, the ruling classes were afraid of socialism because it challenged their rule. Socialism has faced opposition since then, and the opposition to it has often been organized and violent. In countries such as Germany and Italy, democratic socialist parties were banned, like with Otto von Bismarck's Anti-Socialist Laws. With the expansion of liberal democracy and universal suffrage during the 20th century, democratic socialism became a mainstream movement which expanded across the world, as centre-left and left-wing parties came to govern, became the main opposition party, or simply a commonality of the democratic process in most of the Western world; one major exception was the United States. Democratic socialist parties greatly contributed to existing liberal democracy.

liberal democracy socialism democracy

1. 19th Century

1.1. Background

Socialist models and ideas espousing common or public ownership have existed since antiquity, but the first self-conscious socialist movements developed in the 1820s and 1830s. Western European social critics, including Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Louis Blanc, Charles Hall, and Henri de Saint-Simon, were the first modern socialists who criticised the excessive poverty and inequality generated by the Industrial Revolution. The term was first used in English in the British Cooperative Magazine in 1827 and came to be associated with the followers of Owen such as the Rochdale Pioneers, who founded the co-operative movement. Owen's followers stressed both participatory democracy and economic socialisation in the form of consumer co-operatives, credit unions, and mutual aid societies. In the case of the Owenites, they also overlapped with a number of other working-class and labour movements such as the Chartists in the United Kingdom.[1]

Fenner Brockway identified three early democratic socialist groups during the English Civil War in his book Britain's First Socialists, namely the Levellers, who were pioneers of political democracy and the sovereignty of the people; the Agitators, who were the pioneers of participatory control by the ranks at their workplace, and the Diggers, who were pioneers of communal ownership, cooperation and egalitarianism. The philosophy and tradition of the Diggers and the Levellers was continued in the period described by E. P. Thompson in The Making of the English Working Class by Jacobin groups like the London Corresponding Society and by polemicists such as Thomas Paine.[2] Their concern for both democracy and social justice marked them out as key precursors of democratic socialism. Democratic socialism also has its origins in the Revolutions of 1848 and the French Democratic Socialists, although Karl Marx disliked the movement because he viewed it as a party dominated by the middle class and associated to them the word Sozialdemokrat, the first recorded use of the term social democracy.[3]

1.2. Origins

Photograph of the Great Chartist Meeting on Kennington Common, London, 1848. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1661554

The Chartists gathered significant numbers around the People's Charter of 1838 which demanded the extension of suffrage to all male adults. Leaders in the movement also called for a more equitable distribution of income and better living conditions for the working classes. The very first trade unions and consumers' cooperative societies also emerged in the hinterland of the Chartist movement as a way of bolstering the fight for these demands.[4] The first advocates of socialism favoured social levelling in order to create a meritocratic or technocratic society based on individual talent as opposed to aristocratic privilege. Saint-Simon is regarded as the first individual to coin the term socialism.[5]

Henry George, a social reformer whose geoist movement greatly influenced the development of democratic socialism. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1126191

Saint-Simon was fascinated by the enormous potential of science and technology and advocated a socialist society that would eliminate the disorderly aspects of capitalism and would be based on equal opportunities.[6] He advocated the creation of a society in which each person was ranked according to his or her capacities and rewarded according to his or her work.[5] The key focus of Saint-Simon's socialism was on administrative efficiency and industrialism and a belief that science was the key to the progress of human civilisation.[7] This was accompanied by a desire to implement a rationally organised economy based on planning and geared towards large-scale scientific progress and material progress, embodying a desire for a more directed or planned economy.[5] The British political philosopher John Stuart Mill also came to advocate a form of economic socialism within a liberal context known as liberal socialism. In later editions of Principles of Political Economy (1848), Mill would argue that "as far as economic theory was concerned, there is nothing in principle in economic theory that precludes an economic order based on socialist policies." Similarly, the American social reformer Henry George[8] and his geoist movement influenced the development of democratic socialism, especially in relation to British socialism[9] and Fabianism,[10] along with Mill and the German historical school of economics.

In Britain

Keir Hardie, an early democratic socialist who founded the British Independent Labour Party. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1430147

In the United Kingdom, the democratic socialist tradition was represented by William Morris's Socialist League and in the 1880s by the Fabian Society and later the Independent Labour Party founded by Keir Hardie in the 1890s, of which writer George Orwell would later become a prominent member. In the early 1920s, the guild socialism of G. D. H. Cole attempted to envision a socialist alternative to Soviet-style authoritarianism while council communism articulated democratic socialist positions in several respects, notably through renouncing the vanguard role of the revolutionary party and holding that the system of the Soviet Union was not authentically socialist.[11]

The Fabian Society is a British socialist organisation which was established with the purpose of advancing the principles of socialism via gradualist and reformist means.[12] The society functions primarily as a think tank and is one of the fifteen socialist societies affiliated with the Labour Party. Similar societies exist in Australia (the Australian Fabian Society), in Canada (the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation, and the since disbanded League for Social Reconstruction) and in New Zealand. The society laid many of the foundations of the Labour Party and subsequently affected the policies of states emerging from the decolonisation of the British Empire, most notably India and Singapore. Originally, the Fabian Society was committed to the establishment of a socialist economy, alongside a commitment to British imperialism and colonialism as a progressive and modernising force.[13] In 1889 (the centennial of the French Revolution of 1789), the Second International was founded, with 384 delegates from twenty countries representing about 300 labour and socialist organisations.[14] It was termed the Socialist International and Friedrich Engels was elected honorary president at the third congress in 1893. Anarchists were ejected and not allowed in mainly due to pressure from Marxists.[15] It has been argued that at some point the Second International turned "into a battleground over the issue of libertarian versus authoritarian socialism. Not only did they effectively present themselves as champions of minority rights; they also provoked the German Marxists into demonstrating a dictatorial intolerance which was a factor in preventing the British labour movement from following the Marxist direction indicated by such leaders as H. M. Hyndman."[16]

In Germany

Eduard Bernstein, a socialist theorist within the German Social Democratic Party who proposed that socialism could be achieved by peaceful means through incremental legislative reforms in democratic societies. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1539268

In Germany, democratic socialism became a prominent movement at the end of the 19th century, when the Eisenach's Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany merged with Lassalle's General German Workers' Association in 1875 to form the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Reformism arose as an alternative to revolution, with leading social democrat Eduard Bernstein proposing the concept of evolutionary socialism. Revolutionary socialists, encompassing multiple social and political movements that may define revolution differently from one another, quickly targeted the nascent ideology of reformism and Rosa Luxemburg condemned Bernstein's Evolutionary Socialism in her 1900 essay titled Social Reform or Revolution? The Social Democratic Party of Germany became the largest and most powerful socialist party in Europe despite being an illegal organisation until the anti-socialist laws were officially repealed in 1890. In the 1893 German federal election, the party gained about 1,787,000 votes, a quarter of the total votes cast according to Engels. In 1895, the year of his death, Engels highlighted The Communist Manifesto's emphasis on winning as a first step the "battle of democracy."

Friedrich Engels, a Marxist socialist who attempted to bring closer reformists and revolutionaries. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1135959

In his introduction to the 1895 edition of Karl Marx's The Class Struggles in France, Engels attempted to resolve the division between gradualist reformist and revolutionary socialists in the Marxist movement by declaring that he was in favour of short-term tactics of electoral politics that included gradualist and evolutionary socialist policies while maintaining his belief that revolutionary seizure of power by the proletariat should remain a key goal of the socialist movement. In spite of this attempt by Engels to merge gradualism and revolution, his effort only diluted the distinction of gradualism and revolution and had the effect of strengthening the position of the revisionists.[17] Engels' statements in the French newspaper Le Figaro in which he argued that "revolution" and the "so-called socialist society" were not fixed concepts, but rather constantly changing social phenomena and said that this made "us [socialists] all evolutionists", increased the public perception that Engels was gravitating towards evolutionary socialism. Engels also wrote that it would be "suicidal" to talk about a revolutionary seizure of power at a time when the historical circumstances favoured a parliamentary road to power which he predicted could happen "as early as 1898."

Engels' stance of openly accepting gradualist, evolutionary and parliamentary tactics while claiming that the historical circumstances did not favour revolution caused confusion among political commentators and the public. Bernstein interpreted this as indicating that Engels was moving towards accepting parliamentary reformist and gradualist stances, but he ignored that Engels' stances were tactical as a response to the particular circumstances at that time and that Engels was still committed to revolutionary socialism. Engels was deeply distressed when he discovered that his introduction to a new edition of The Class Struggles in France had been edited by Bernstein and Karl Kautsky in a manner which left the impression that he had become a proponent of a peaceful road to socialism.[17] On 1 April 1895, four months before his death, Engels responded to Kautsky:

I was amazed to see today in the Vorwärts an excerpt from my 'Introduction' that had been printed without my knowledge and tricked out in such a way as to present me as a peace-loving proponent of legality [at all costs]. Which is all the more reason why I should like it to appear in its entirety in the Neue Zeit in order that this disgraceful impression may be erased. I shall leave Liebknecht in no doubt as to what I think about it and the same applies to those who, irrespective of who they may be, gave him this opportunity of perverting my views and, what's more, without so much as a word to me about it.[18]

2. Early 20th Century

2.1. Early Democratic Success and Development

In Argentina, the Socialist Party was established in the 1890s, being led by Juan B. Justo and Nicolás Repetto, among others, becoming the first mass party in the country and in Latin America. The party affiliated itself with the Second International.[19] Between 1924 and 1940, it was one of the many socialist party members of the Labour and Socialist International (LSI), the forerunner of the present-day Socialist International.[20] In 1904, Australians elected Chris Watson as the first Prime Minister from the Australian Labor Party, becoming the first democratic socialist elected into office. The British Labour Party first won seats in the House of Commons in 1902. By 1917, the patriotism of World War I changed into political radicalism in Australia, most of Europe and the United States. Other socialist parties from around the world who were beginning to gain importance in their national politics in the early 20th century included the Italian Socialist Party, the French Section of the Workers' International, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, the Swedish Social Democratic Party, the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, the Socialist Party of America and the Chilean Socialist Workers' Party. The International Socialist Commission (ISC) was formed in February 1919 at a meeting in Bern, Switzerland by parties that wanted to resurrect the Second International.[21]

Eugene V. Debs, leader and presidential candidate in the early 20th century for the Socialist Party of America. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1770853

The socialist industrial unionism of Daniel De Leon in the United States represented another strain of early democratic socialism in this period. It favoured a form of government based on industrial unions, but it also sought to establish a socialist government after winning at the ballot box.[22] Democratic socialism continued to flourish in the Socialist Party of America, especially under the leadership of Norman Thomas.[23][24] The Socialist Party of America was formed in 1901 after a merger between the three-year-old Social Democratic Party of America and disaffected elements of the Socialist Labor Party of America which had split from the main organisation in 1899. The Socialist Party of America was also known at various times in its long history as the Socialist Party of the United States (as early as the 1910s) and Socialist Party USA (as early as 1935, most common in the 1960s), but the official party name remained Socialist Party of America.[25] Eugene V. Debs twice won over 900,000 votes in the 1912 presidential elections and increased his portion of the popular vote to over 1,000,000 in the 1920 presidential election despite being imprisoned for alleged sedition. The Socialist Party of America also elected two Representatives (Victor L. Berger and Meyer London), dozens of state legislators, more than hundred mayors and countless minor officials.[26] Furthermore, the city of Milwaukee has been led by a series of democratic socialist mayors in the early 20th century, namely Frank Zeidler, Emil Seidel and Daniel Hoan.

2.2. Russian Revolution and Aftermath

Alexander Kerensky, a moderate democratic socialist who led the Russian Provisional Government. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1600363

In February 1917, revolution broke out in Russia in which workers, soldiers and peasants established soviets, the monarchy was forced into exile fell and a provisional government was formed until the election of a constituent assembly. Alexander Kerensky, a Russian lawyer and revolutionary, became a key political figure in the Russian Revolution of 1917. After the February Revolution, Kerensky joined the newly formed Russian Provisional Government, first as Minister of Justice, then as Minister of War and after July as the government's second Minister-Chairman. A leader of the moderate socialist Trudovik faction of the Socialist Revolutionary Party known as the Labour Group, Kerensky was also the vice-chairman of the powerful Petrograd Soviet. After failing to sign a peace treaty with the German Empire to exit from World War I which led to massive popular unrest against the government cabinet, Kerensky's government was overthrown on 7 November by the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin in the October Revolution. Soon after the October Revolution, the Russian Constituent Assembly elected Socialist-Revolutionary leader Victor Chernov as President of a Russian Republic, but it rejected the Bolshevik proposal that endorsed the Soviet decrees on land, peace and workers' control and acknowledged the power of the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies.[27]

As a result of the 1917 Russian Constituent Assembly election which saw a landslide victory for the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Bolsheviks declared on the next day that the assembly was elected based on outdated party lists which did not reflect the Socialist Revolutionary Party split into Left and Right Socialist-Revolutionary factions. The Left Socialist-Revolutionaries were allied with the Bolsheviks.[28] The All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets promptly dissolved the Russian Constituent Assembly.

The Kronstadt rebellion represented the highest point of left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1547750

At a conference held on 27 February 1921 in Vienna, parties which did not want to be a part of the Communist International or the resurrected Second International formed the International Working Union of Socialist Parties (IWUSP).[29] The ISC and the IWUSP eventually joined to form the LSI in May 1923 at a meeting held Hamburg.[30] Left-wing groups which did not agree to the centralisation and abandonment of the soviets by the Bolshevik Party led left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks. Such groups included anarchists, Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. Amidst this left-wing discontent, the most large-scale events were the workers' Kronstadt rebellion and the anarchist-led Makhnovshchina in Ukraine.

In 1922, the 4th World Congress of the Communist International took up the policy of the united front, urging communists to work with rank and file social democrats while remaining critical of their party leaders, whom they criticised for betraying the working class by supporting the war efforts of their respective capitalist classes. For their part, the social democrats pointed to the dislocation and chaos caused by revolution and later the growing authoritarianism of the communist parties after they achieved power. When the Communist Party of Great Britain applied to affiliate with the Labour Party in 1920, it was turned down. On seeing the Soviet Union's growing coercive power in 1923, a dying Lenin stated that Russia had reverted to a "bourgeois tsarist machine ... barely varnished with socialism."[31] After Lenin's death in January 1924, the communist party, increasingly falling under the control of Joseph Stalin , rejected the theory that socialism could not be built solely in the Soviet Union in favour of the concept of socialism in one country.[32]

In other parts of Europe, many democratic socialist parties were united in the IWUSP in the early 1920s and in the London Bureau in the 1930s, along with many other socialists of different tendencies and ideologies. These socialist internationals sought to steer a centrist course between the revolutionaries and the social democrats of the Second International and the perceived anti-democratic Communist International. In contrast, the social democrats of the Second International were seen as insufficiently socialist and had been compromised by their support for World War I. The key movements within the IWUSP were the Austromarxists and the British Independent Labour Party while the main forces in the London Bureau were the Independent Labour Party and the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification.

3. Mid-20th Century

3.1. Post-War Governments

Clement Attlee, Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1419835

After World War II, democratic socialist, labourist and social-democratic governments introduced social reforms and wealth redistribution via welfare state social programmes and progressive taxation. Those parties dominated post-war politics in the Nordic countries and countries such as Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. At one point, France claimed the world's most state-controlled capitalist country, starting a period of unprecedented economic growth known as the Trente Glorieuses, part of the post-war economic boom set in motion by the Keynesian consensus. The public utilities and industries nationalised by the French government included Air France, the Bank of France, Charbonnages de France, Électricité de France, Gaz de France and Régie Nationale des Usines Renault.[33]

In 1945, the British Labour Party led by Clement Attlee was elected to office based on a radical, democratic socialist programme. The Labour government nationalised major public utilities and industries such as mining, gas, coal, electricity, rail, iron, steel and the Bank of England. British Petroleum was officially nationalised in 1951.[34] In 1956, Anthony Crosland stated that at least 25% of British industry was nationalised and that public employees, including those in nationalised industries, constituted a similar proportion of the country's total workforce.[35] The 1964–1970 and 1974–1979 Labour governments strengthened the policy of nationalisation.[36] These Labour governments renationalised steel (British Steel) in 1967 after the Conservatives had privatised it and nationalised car production (British Leyland) in 1976.[37] The 1945–1951 Labour government also established National Health Service which provided taxpayer-funded health care to Every British citizen, free at the point of use.[38] High-quality housing for the working class was provided in council housing estates and university education became available to every citizen via a school grant system.[39] The 1945–1951 Labour government has been described as being transformative democratic socialist.[40]

Einar Gerhardsen, Labour Prime Minister of Norway. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1778333

During most of the post-war era, democratic socialist, labourist and social-democratic parties dominated the political scene and laid the ground to universalistic welfare states in the Nordic countries. For much of the mid- and late 20th century, Sweden was governed by the Swedish Social Democratic Party largely in cooperation with trade unions and industry.[41] Tage Erlander was the leader of the Social Democratic Party and led the government from 1946 until 1969, an uninterrupted tenure of twenty-three years, one of the longest in any democracy. From 1945 until 1962, the Norwegian Labour Party held an absolute majority in the parliament led by Einar Gerhardsen, who served Prime Minister for seventeen years. The Danish Social Democrats governed Denmark for most of the 20th century and since the 1920s and through the 1940s and the 1970s a large majority of Prime Ministers were members of the Social Democrats, the largest and most popular political party in Denmark.

Olof Palme, Social Democratic Prime Minister of Sweden. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1411652

This particular adaptation of the mixed economy, better known as the Nordic model, is characterised by more generous welfare states (relative to other developed countries) which are aimed specifically at enhancing individual autonomy, ensuring the universal provision of basic human rights and stabilising the economy. It is distinguished from other welfare states with similar goals by its emphasis on maximising labour force participation, promoting gender equality, egalitarian and extensive benefit levels, large magnitude of redistribution and expansionary fiscal policy.[42] In the 1950s, popular socialism emerged as a vital current of the left in Nordic countries could be characterised as a democratic socialism in the same vein as it placed itself between communism and social democracy.[43] In the 1960s, Gerhardsen established a planning agency and tried to establish a planned economy.[44] Prominent Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme identified himself as a democratic socialist.[45]

The Rehn–Meidner model was adopted by the Swedish Social Democratic Party in the late 1940s. This economic model allowed capitalists who owned very productive and efficient firms to retain excess profits at the expense of the firm's workers, exacerbating income inequality and causing workers in these firms to agitate for a better share of the profits in the 1970s. Women working in the state sector also began to assert pressure for better and equal wages. In 1976, economist Rudolf Meidner established a study committee that came up with a proposal called the Meidner Plan which entailed the transferring of the excess profits into investment funds controlled by the workers in said efficient firms, with the goal that firms would create further employment and pay workers higher wages in return rather than unduly increasing the wealth of company owners and managers.[7] Capitalists immediately denounced the proposal as socialism and launched an unprecedented opposition and smear campaign against it, threatening to terminate the class compromise established in the 1938 Saltsjöbaden Agreement.[46]

3.2. Anti-Colonialism and Revolutions

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 represented a breaking point in the wider socialist movement. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1253560

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a spontaneous nationwide revolt by democratic socialists against the Marxist–Leninist government of the People's Republic of Hungary and its policies of repression, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's denunciation of the excesses of Stalin's regime during the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that same year[47] as well as the revolt in Hungary produced ideological fractures and disagreements within the democratic communist and socialist parties of Western Europe. A split ensued within the Italian Communist Party (PCI), with most ordinary members and the PCI leadership, including Giorgio Napolitano and Palmiro Togliatti, regarding the Hungarian insurgents as counter-revolutionaries as reported in l'Unità, the official PCI newspaper.[48]

Giuseppe Di Vittorio, General Secretary of the Italian General Confederation of Labour, repudiated the leadership position, as did the prominent party members Loris Fortuna, Antonio Giolitti and many other influential communist intellectuals who later were expelled or left the party. Pietro Nenni, the national secretary of the Italian Socialist Party, a close ally of the PCI, opposed the Soviet intervention as well.[49] Napolitano, elected in 2006 as President of the Italian Republic, wrote in his 2005 political autobiography that he regretted his justification of Soviet action in Hungary and that at the time he believed in party unity and the international leadership of Soviet communism.[50]

Jawaharlal Nehru, a prominent Third World socialist leader and Prime Minister of India from the Indian National Congress. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1483881

Within the Communist Party of Great Britain, dissent that began with the repudiation of Stalin by John Saville and E. P. Thompson, influential historians and members of the Communist Party Historians Group, culminated in a loss of thousands of party members as events unfolded in Hungary. Peter Fryer, correspondent for the party newspaper The Daily Worker, reported on the violent suppression of the uprising, but his dispatches were heavily censored. Fryer resigned from the paper upon his return and was later expelled from the party.[51] In France, moderates such as historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie resigned, questioning the policy of supporting Soviet actions by the French Communist Party. The French anarchist philosopher and writer Albert Camus wrote an open letter titled The Blood of the Hungarians, criticising the West's lack of action. Jean-Paul Sartre, still a determined party member, criticised the Soviets.

Jayaprakash Narayan, an anti-totalitarian socialist and democratic socialist influence, among members of the Congress Socialist Party. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1681313

In the post-war years, socialism became increasingly influential throughout the so-called Third World after decolonisation. During India's freedom movement and fight for independence, many figures in the leftist faction of the Indian National Congress organised themselves as the Congress Socialist Party. Their politics and those of the early and intermediate periods of Jayaprakash Narayan's career combined a commitment to the socialist transformation of society with a principled opposition to the one-party authoritarianism they perceived in the Stalinist model. Embracing a new ideology called Third World socialism, countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America often nationalised industries held by foreign owners. In addition, the New Left, a movement composed of activists, educators, agitators and others who sought to implement a broad range of social reforms on issues such as gay rights, abortion, gender roles and drugs,[52] in contrast to earlier leftist or Marxist movements that had taken a more vanguardist approach to social justice and focused mostly on labour unionisation and issues related to class, became prominent in the 1960s and 1970s. The New Left rejected involvement with the labour movement and Marxism's historical theory of class struggle.[53]

3.3. 1968 and New Left

Tom Hayden, a prominent New Left member of its participatory democracy wing which was exemplified in the Port Huron Statement. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1357778

In the United States, the New Left was associated with the anti-war and hippie movements as well as the black liberation movements such as the Black Panther Party.[54] While initially formed in opposition to the so-called Old Left of the Democratic Party, groups composing the New Left gradually became central players in the Democratic coalition, culminating in the nomination of the outspoken anti-Vietnam War George McGovern at the Democratic Party primaries[55] for the 1972 United States presidential election.[52]

The protest wave of 1968 represented a worldwide escalation of social conflicts, predominantly characterised by popular rebellions against military dictatorships, capitalists and bureaucratic elites, who responded with an escalation of political repression and authoritarianism. These protests marked a turning point for the civil rights movement in the United States which produced revolutionary movements like the Black Panther Party. The prominent civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. organised the Poor People's Campaign to address issues of economic and social justice[56] while personally showing sympathy with democratic socialism.[57] The classic Port Huron Statement of the Students for a Democratic Society combined a stringent critique of the Stalinist model with calls for a democratic socialist reconstruction of society.

In reaction to the Tet Offensive, protests also sparked a broad movement in opposition to the Vietnam War all over the United States and even into London, Paris, Berlin and Rome. Mass socialist or communist movements grew not only in the United States, but also in most European countries. The most spectacular manifestation of this was the May 1968 protests in France in which students linked up with strikes of up to ten million workers and the movement seemed capable of overthrowing the government, albeit for only a few days. In many other capitalist countries, struggles against dictatorships, state repression and colonisation were also marked by protests in 1968 such as the beginning of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City and the escalation of guerrilla warfare against the military dictatorship in Brazil.[58] Countries governed by Marxist–Leninist parties had protests against bureaucratic and military elites. In Eastern Europe, there were widespread protests that escalated particularly in the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia.[59] In response, the Soviet Union occupied Czechoslovakia, but the occupation was denounced by the Italian and French communist parties as well as the Communist Party of Finland.

4. Late 20th Century

4.1. Neoliberal Counterrevolution and End of Cold War

Salvador Allende, President of Chile and member of the Socialist Party of Chile, whose presidency and life were ended by a CIA-backed military coup. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1658391

In Latin America, liberation theology is a socialist tendency within the Roman Catholic Church that emerged in the 1960s. In Chile, Salvador Allende, a physician and candidate for the Socialist Party of Chile, became the first democratically elected Marxist President after presidential elections were held in 1970. However, his government was ousted three years later in a military coup backed by the CIA and the United States government, instituting the right-wing dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet which lasted until the late 1980s. In addition, Michael Manley, a self-described democratic socialist, served as the fourth Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1972 to 1980 and from 1989 to 1992. According to opinion polls, he remains one of Jamaica's most popular Prime Ministers since independence.[60]

Eurocommunism became a trend in the 1970s and 1980s in various Western European communist parties which intended to develop a modernised theory and practice of social transformation that was more relevant for a Western European country and less aligned to the influence or control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Outside of Western Europe, it is sometimes referred to as neocommunism.[61] Some communist parties with strong popular support, notably the Italian Communist Party and the Communist Party of Spain, enthusiastically adopted Eurocommunism and the Communist Party of Finland was dominated by Eurocommunists.[62]

In the late 1970s and in the 1980s, the Socialist International had extensive contacts and held discussion with the two powers of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union, regarding the relations between the East and West, along with arms control. Since then, the Socialist International has admitted as member parties the Nicaraguan Sandinista National Liberation Front and the left-wing Puerto Rican Independence Party as well as former communist parties such as the Italian Democratic Party of the Left and the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique. The Socialist International aided social democratic parties in re-establishing themselves after right-wing dictatorships were toppled in Portugal and Spain, respectively in 1974 and 1975. Until its 1976 congress in Geneva, the Socialist International had few members outside Europe and no formal involvement with Latin America.[63]

In the United States, the Social Democrats, USA, an association of reformist social democrats and democratic socialists, was founded in 1972. The Socialist Party of America had stopped running independent presidential candidates and begun reforming itself towards democratic socialism. Consequently, the party's name was changed because it had confused the public. With the name change in place, the Social Democrats, USA clarified its vision to Americans who confused democratic socialism with Marxism–Leninism, harshly opposed by the organisation. In 1983, the Democratic Socialists of America was founded as a merger of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee with the New American Movement,[64] an organization of New Left veterans. Earlier in 1973, Michael Harrington and Irving Howe formed the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee which articulated a democratic socialist message while a smaller faction associated with peace activist David McReynolds formed the Socialist Party USA.[65] Harrington and the socialist-feminist author Barbara Ehrenreich were elected as the first co-chairs of the organisation[66] which does not stand its own candidates in elections and instead "fights for reforms ... that will weaken the power of corporations and increase the power of working people."[67]

In Greece, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, better known as PASOK, was founded on 3 September 1974 by Andreas Papandreou as a democratic socialist, left-wing nationalist, Venizelist and social democratic party following the collapse of the military dictatorship of 1967–1974.[68] As a result of the 1981 legislative election, PASOK became Greece's first centre-left party to win a majority in the Hellenic Parliament and the party would later pass several important economic and social reforms that would reshape Greece in the years ahead until its collapse in the 2010s.[69]

Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, who wanted to move the Soviet Union towards democratic socialism. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1517377

During the 1980s, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev intended to move the Soviet Union towards democratic socialism[70] in the form of Nordic-style social democracy, calling it a "socialist beacon for all mankind." Prior to its dissolution in 1991, the Soviet Union had the second largest economy in the world after the United States.[71] After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the economic integration of the Soviet republics was dissolved and industrial activity suffered a substantial decline.[72] A lasting legacy of the Soviet Union remains physical infrastructure created during decades of policies geared towards the construction of heavy industry and widespread environmental destruction.[73]

The rapid transition to neoliberal capitalism and privatisation in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc was accompanied by a steep fall in standards of living as poverty, unemployment, income inequality and excess mortality rose sharply as Russia would be in recession until the depths of the 1998 Russian financial crisis. This was further accompanied by the entrenchment of a newly established business oligarchy in the former countries of the Soviet Union. The average post-communist country returned to 1989 levels of per-capita GDP only by 2005.[74] In a 2001 study by economist Steven Rosefielde, he calculated that there were 3.4 million premature deaths in Russia from 1990 to 1998 which he partly blames on the "shock therapy" that came with the Washington Consensus.[75] GDP in Russia began rising rapidly around 1999 after currency devaluation, tax reforms, further deregulation of small and medium-sized businesses and increasing commodity prices. It would surpass 1989 levels only in 2007, with poverty decreasing from 30% in 2000 to 14% in 2008, after adopting a mixed economy approach. In the decades following the end of the Cold War, only five or six of the post-communist states are on a path to joining the wealthy capitalist West while most are falling behind, some to such an extent that it will take over fifty years to catch up to where they were before the end of the Soviet system.[76]

4.2. Opposition to Neoliberalism and Third Way

Michael Foot, former Leader of the Labour Party. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1202317

Many social-democratic parties, particularly after the Cold War, adopted neoliberal economic policies, including austerity, deregulation, financialisation, free trade, privatisation and welfare reforms such as workfare, experiencing a drastic decline in the 2010s after their successes in the 1990s and 2000s in a phenomenon known as Pasokification.[69] As monetarists and neoliberals attacked social welfare systems as impediments to private entrepreneurship, prominent social-democratic parties abandoned their pursuit of moderate socialism in favour of economic liberalism. This resulted in the rise of more left-wing and democratic socialist parties that rejected neoliberalism and the Third Way. In the United Kingdom, prominent democratic socialists within the Labour Party such as Michael Foot and Tony Benn put forward democratic socialism into an actionable manifesto during the 1970s and 1980s, but this was voted overwhelmingly against in the 1983 general election after Margaret Thatcher's victory in the Falklands War and the manifesto was referred to as "the longest suicide note in history."[77]

By the 1980s, with the rise of conservative neoliberal politicians such as Ronald Reagan in the United States, Margaret Thatcher in Britain, Brian Mulroney in Canada and Augusto Pinochet in Chile, the Western welfare state was attacked from within, but state support for the corporate sector was maintained.[78] According to Kristen Ghodsee, the triumphalist attitudes of Western powers at the end of the Cold War and the fixation with linking all leftist and socialist ideals with the excesses of Stalinism allowed neoliberalism to fill the void. This undermined democratic institutions and reforms, leaving a trail of economic misery, unemployment, hopelessness and rising economic inequality throughout the former Eastern Bloc and much of the West in the following decades. With democracy weakened and the anti-capitalist left marginalised, the anger and resentment which followed the period of neoliberalism was channeled into extremist nationalist movements in both the former and the latter.

Tony Benn, a leading left-wing Labour Party politician. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1444819

As a result of the party's shift, Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock made a public attack against the entryist group Militant at the 1985 Labour Party conference in Bournemouth. The Labour Party ruled that Militant was ineligible for affiliation with the Labour Party and the party gradually expelled Militant supporters.[79] The Kinnock leadership had refused to support the 1984–1985 miner's strike over pit closures,[80] a decision that the party's left-wing and the National Union of Mineworkers blamed for the strike's eventual defeat.[81]

Tony Blair, whose Clause IV proposal included for the first time referring to Labour as democratic socialist, but whose critics disputed his socialist credentials. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1579826

In 1989, the Socialist International adopted a new Declaration of Principles at its 18th congress in Stockholm, Sweden, stating: "Democratic socialism is an international movement for freedom, social justice, and solidarity. Its goal is to achieve a peaceful world where these basic values can be enhanced and where each individual can live a meaningful life with the full development of his or her personality and talents, and with the guarantee of human and civil rights in a democratic framework of society."[82] Within the Labour Party, the democratic socialist label was used historically by those who identified with the tradition represented by the Independent Labour Party, the soft left of non-Marxist socialists such as Michael Foot around the Tribune magazine and some of the hard left in the Campaign Group around Tony Benn. The Campaign Group, along with the Socialist Society led by Raymond Williams and others, formed the Socialist Movement in 1987 which now produces the magazine Red Pepper.

In the late 1990s, the Labour Party under the leadership of Tony Blair enacted policies based on the liberal market economy with the intention of delivering public services via the private finance initiative. Influential in these policies was the idea of a Third Way which called for a re-evaluation and reduction of welfare state policies.[83] In 1995, the Labour Party re-defined its position on socialism by re-wording Clause IV of their Constitution, effectively removing all references to public, direct worker or municipal ownership of the means of production and now reading: "The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that, by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create, for each of us, the means to realise our true potential, and, for all of us, a community in which power, wealth, and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few."[84] New Labour eventually won the 1997 United Kingdom general election in a landslide and Blair described New Labour as a "left of centre party, pursuing economic prosperity and social justice as partners and not as opposites."[85] It has been argued that the Labour Party under the Blair ministry effectively governed from the radical centre, something which Blair had promised to do in the 1997 general election.[86]

5. 21st Century

By the 21st century, democratic socialism became a synonym in American politics for social democracy due to social-democratic policies being adopted by progressive-liberal intellectuals and politicians, causing the New Deal coalition to be the main entity spearheading left-wing reforms of capitalism, rather than by socialists like elsewhere.[87] Democratic socialists see the purpose of the welfare state as "not merely to provide benefits but to build the foundation for emancipation and self-determination."[88]

Despite the long history of overlap between the two, with social democracy considered a form of democratic or parliamentary socialism and social democrats calling themselves democratic socialists, this is considered a misnomer in the United States. One issue is that social democracy is equated with wealthy countries in the Western world while democratic socialism is conflated either with the pink tide in Latin America or with Marxist–Leninist socialism as practised in the Soviet Union and other self-declared socialist states. Democratic socialism has been described as representing the left-wing[89] or socialist New Deal tradition.

The Progressive Alliance is a political international organisation founded on 22 May 2013 by left-wing political parties, the majority of which are current or former members of the Socialist International. The organisation states that its aim is becoming the global network of "the progressive, democratic, social-democratic, socialist and labour movement." On 30 November 2018, The Sanders Institute[90] and the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025[91] founded the Progressive International, an international political organisation which unites democratic socialists with labour unionists, progressives and social democrats.[92]

5.1. Africa

African socialism has been a major ideology around the continent and remains so in the present day.[93] Although affiliated with the Socialist International, the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa abandoned its socialist ideology after gaining power in 1994 and followed a neoliberal route. From 2005 until 2007, the country was wracked by thousands of protests from poor working-class communities. One of these gave rise to a mass democratic socialist movement of shack dwellers called Abahlali baseMjondolo which continues to work for popular people's planning and against the proliferation of capitalism in land and housing, despite experiencing repression at the hands of the police. In 2013, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, the country's biggest trade union, voted to withdraw support from the AFC and the South African Communist Party and to form an independent socialist party to protect the interests of the working class, resulting in the creation of the United Front.[94]

Other democratic socialist parties in Africa include the Movement of Socialist Democrats, the Congress for the Republic, the Movement of Socialist Democrats and the Democratic Patriots' Unified Party in Tunisia, the Berber Socialism and Revolution Party in Algeria, the Congress of Democrats in Namibia, the National Progressive Unionist Party, the Socialist Party of Egypt, the Workers and Peasants Party, the Workers Democratic Party, the Revolutionary Socialists and the Socialist Popular Alliance Party in Egypt and the Socialist Democratic Vanguard Party in Morocco. Democratic socialists played a major role in the Arab Spring of 2011, especially in Egypt and Tunisia.

5.2. Americas

North America

In North America, Canada and the United States represent an unusual case in the Western world in that they were not governed by a socialist party at the federal level. However, the democratic socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), the precursor to the social-democratic New Democratic Party (NDP), had significant success in provincial Canadian politics. In 1944, the Saskatchewan CCF formed the first socialist government in North America and its leader Tommy Douglas is known for having spearheaded the adoption of Canada's nationwide system of universal healthcare called Medicare.[95] At the federal level, the NDP was the Official Opposition (2011–2015).[96]

Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, whose presidential campaigns in 2016 and 2020 attracted significant support from youth and working-class groups while realigning the Democratic Party further left. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1298770

In the United States, Bernie Sanders, who was the 37th Mayor of Burlington, became the first self-described democratic socialist to be elected to the Senate from Vermont in 2006.(Borger, 2006) In 2016, Sanders made a bid for the Democratic Party presidential candidate, thereby gaining considerable popular support, particularly among the younger generation and the working class. Although the nomination ultimately went to Hillary Clinton by June 2016, a centrist candidate who was later defeated by Donald Trump but had an influenced platform from Sanders that was formed in July 2016 during the convention,[97] Sanders ran again in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries,(Kinzel, 2019) briefly becoming the front-runner in the middle of February until Super Tuesday in March and suspending his campaign in April. Sanders would remain on the ballot in states that had not yet voted to further influence the Democratic Party's platform as he did in 2016.

Since his praise of the Nordic model indicated focus on social democracy as opposed to views involving social ownership, it has been argued that the term democratic socialism has become a misnomer for social democracy in American politics. Nonetheless, Sanders has explicitly advocated for some form of public ownership[98] as well as workplace democracy, an expansion of worker cooperatives and the democratisation of the economy. Sanders' proposed legislation include worker-owned business,[99] the Workplace Democracy Act,[100] employee ownership as alternative to corporations[101] and a package to encourage employee-owned companies.[102] Called a "decent, honest New Dealer",[103] Sanders associates Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society as part of the democratic socialist tradition and claimed the New Deal's legacy to "take up the unfinished business of the New Deal and carry it to completion."

While opponents of Sanders have used the democratic socialist label to accuse him of being too left-leaning for American politics, the theoretical and practical applications of it are based on the precept of shifting responsibility away from the national level to local decision-makers, a fundamental principle shared by the system of federalism in the United States.[104] A democratic socialist perspective on government investment in infrastructure would support more projects with smaller-sized budgets on a local level instead of a few highly expensive ones. This view aligns with the Republican Party's fundamental identity, philosophy and agenda of local people exerting control over their own affairs.[104]

In a 2018 poll conducted by Gallup, a majority of people under the age of 30 in the United States stated that they approve of socialism. 57% of Democratic-leaning voters viewed socialism positively and 47% saw capitalism positively while 71% of Republican-leaning voters who were polled saw capitalism under a positive light and 16% viewed socialism in a positive light.[105] A 2019 YouGov poll found that 7 out of 10 millennials in the United States would vote for a socialist presidential candidate and 36% had a favorable view of communism.[106] An earlier 2019 Harris Poll found that socialism is more popular with women than men, with 55% of women between the ages of 18 and 54 preferring to live in a socialist society while a majority of men surveyed in the poll chose capitalism over socialism.[107]

Although there is no agreement on the meaning of socialism in those polls,[108] there has been a steady increase of support for progressive reforms such as the United States National Health Care Act[109] to enact universal single-payer health care and the Green New Deal. In November 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, who are members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a democratic socialist organization which advocates progressive reforms that "will weaken the power of corporations and increase the power of working people",[67] were elected to the House of Representatives while eleven DSA candidates were elected to state legislatures.[110]

Latin America

Presidents Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela attending the World Social Forum for Latin America. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1420796

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "the attempt by Salvador Allende to unite Marxists and other reformers in a socialist reconstruction of Chile is most representative of the direction that Latin American socialists have taken since the late 20th century. ... Several socialist (or socialist-leaning) leaders have followed Allende's example in winning election to office in Latin American countries."[111] Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa refer to their political programmes as socialist and Chávez adopted the term socialism of the 21st century. After winning re-election in December 2006, Chávez stated: "Now more than ever, I am obliged to move Venezuela's path towards socialism."[112]

Chávez was re-elected in October 2012 for his third six-year term as president, but he suddenly died in March 2013 from advanced cancer. After Chávez's death, Nicolás Maduro, the Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, assumed the powers and responsibilities of the President on 5 March 2013. A special election to elect a new president was held on 14 April 2013 which Maduro won by a tight margin as the candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. He was formally inaugurated on 19 April 2013.[113] Most democratic socialist scholars and analysts have been sceptical of Latin America's examples. While citing their progressive role, they argue that the appropriate label for these governments is populism rather than socialism due to their authoritarian characteristics and occasional cults of personality. On the socialist development in Venezuela, Chávez argued with the second government plan (Plan de la Patria (es)) that "socialism has just begun to implant its internal dynamism among us" whilst acknowledging that "the socio-economic formation that still prevails in Venezuela is capitalist and rentier."[114] This same thesis is defended by Maduro,[115] who acknowledges that he has failed in the development of the productive forces while admitting that "the old model of corrupt and inefficient state capitalism" typical of traditional Venezuelan oil rentism has contradictorily combined with a statist model that "pretends to be a socialist."[116]

The pink tide is a term being used in contemporary 21st-century political analysis in the media and elsewhere to describe the perception that left-wing politics are becoming increasingly influential in Latin America. The Foro de São Paulo is a conference of leftist political parties and other organisations from Latin America and the Caribbean. It was launched in 1990 by the Brazilian Workers' Party in São Paulo. The Forum of São Paulo was founded in 1990, when the Workers' Party approached other parties and social movements of Latin America and the Caribbean with the objective of debating the new international scenario after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the consequences of the implementation of what were taken as neoliberal policies adopted at the time by contemporary right-leaning governments in the region, with the stated main objective of the conference being to argue for genuine alternatives to neoliberalism.[117] Among its members, it includes democratic socialist and social democratic parties in the region such as Bolivia's Movement for Socialism, Brazil's Workers' Party, the Ecuadorian PAIS Alliance, the Venezuelan United Socialist Party of Venezuela, the Socialist Party of Chile, the Uruguayan Broad Front, the Nicaraguan Sandinista National Liberation Front and the Salvadoran Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. Former members included the Brazilian Socialist Party and the Popular Socialist Party.[118]

In Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the National Regeneration Movement was elected in a landslide victory in the 2018 Mexican general election.[119] Many of his policy proposals include traditionally labour based and decentralised democratic socialist reforms such as increased social spending, increases in financial aid for students and doubling the pension for the elderly as well as the minimum wage, construction of 100 universities and universal access to public colleges,[120] an amnesty for non-violent drug criminals[121] with the end of the war on drugs and the legalization of some drugs like marijuana,[122] cancellation of the Mexico City New International Airport project surrounded with scandals and environmental irregularities, the construction of more oil refineries and a referendum on past energy reforms implemented in 2013 that ended Pemex's 75-year state-own control of the oil company the profits of which represented 18% of the total budget revenues of the public sector,[123] extensive stimulation of the country's agricultural sector, delay of the renegotiation of NAFTA until after the elections and slashing politicians' exorbitant salaries and perks as well as the decentralisation of the executive cabinet by moving some key government departments and agencies from the capital to the states.[124]

5.3. Asia

In Japan, the Japanese Communist Party (JPC) does not advocate for a violent revolution, instead proposing a parliamentary democratic revolution to achieve "democratic change in politics and the economy."[125] There has been a resurgent interest in the JPC among workers and the Japanese youth due to the financial crisis of 2007–2008.

After the 2008 Malaysian general election, the Socialist Party of Malaysia got Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj as its first Member of Parliament.[126]

In the Philippines, the main political party campaigning for democratic socialism is the Akbayan Citizens' Action Party which was founded by Joel Rocamora in January 1998 as a democratic socialist[127] and progressive political party. The Akbayan Citizens' Action Party has consistently won seats in the House of Representatives, with Etta Rosales becoming its first representative. It won its first Senate seat in 2016, when its chairwoman, senator and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Risa Hontiveros was elected.[128]

In 2010, there were 270 kibbutzim in Israel. Their factories and farms account for 9% of Israel's industrial output, worth US$8 billion and 40% of its agricultural output, worth over $1.7 billion.[129] Some kibbutzim had also developed substantial high-tech and military industries. Also in 2010, Kibbutz Sasa, containing some 200 members, generated $850 million in annual revenue from its military-plastics industry.[130]

Other democratic socialist parties in Asia include the National United Party of Afghanistan in Afghanistan, the April Fifth Action in Hong Kong, the All India Trinamool Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the Samta Party and the Sikkim Democratic Front in India, the Progressive Socialist Party in Lebanon, the Federal Socialist Forum and the Naya Shakti Party in Nepal, the Labor Party in South Korea and the Syrian Democratic People's Party and the Democratic Arab Socialist Union in Syria.

5.4. Europe

The United Nations World Happiness Report shows that the happiest nations are concentrated in Northern Europe, where the Nordic model (which democratic socialists want to strengthen against austerity and neoliberalism)[131] is employed, with the list being topped by Denmark, where the Social Democrats led their first government in 1924 and governed Denmark for most of the 20th century. The Norwegian Labour Party, the Swedish Social Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party of Finland also led the majority of governments and were the most popular political parties in their respective countries during the 20th century. While not as popular like its counterparts, the Icelandic Social Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Alliance have also led several governments and have been part of numerous coalitions. This success is at times attributed to the social-democratic Nordic model in the region, where the aforementioned democratic socialist, labourist and social-democratic political parties have dominated the political scene and laid the ground to universalistic welfare states in the 20th century, fitting the social-democratc type of "high socialism" which is described as favouring "a high level of decommodification and a low degree of stratification." The Nordic countries, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden as well as Greenland and the Faroe Islands, also ranked highest on the metrics of real GDP per capita, economic equality, healthy life expectancy, public health, having someone to count on, education, perceived freedom to make life choices, generosity and human development. The Nordic countries have ranked high on indicators such as civil liberties, democracy,[132] press, labour and economic freedoms, peace[133] and freedom from corruption. Numerous studies and surveys have indicated that people tend to live happier lives in social democracies and welfare states as opposed to neoliberal and free-market economies.

The objectives of the Party of European Socialists, the European Parliament's social democratic bloc, are now "to pursue international aims in respect of the principles on which the European Union is based, namely principles of freedom, equality, solidarity, democracy, respect of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and respect for the Rule of Law." As a result, today the rallying cry of the French RevolutionLiberté, égalité, fraternité—is promoted as essential socialist values.[134] To the left of the European Socialists at the European level is the Party of the European Left, a political party at the European level and an association of democratic socialist and communist parties in the European Union and other European countries.[135] It was formed for the purposes of running in the 2004 European Parliament election. The European Left was founded on 8–9 May 2004 in Rome.[136]

Elected MEPs from member parties of the European Left sit in the European United Left–Nordic Green Left group in the European Parliament. The democratic socialist Left Party in Germany grew in popularity,[137] as did popular dissatisfaction with the increasingly neoliberal policies of the Social Democratic Party of Germany after Gerhard Schröder's tenure as Chancellor, becoming the fourth biggest party in parliament in the general election on 27 September 2009.[138] In 2008, the Progressive Party of Working People candidate Dimitris Christofias won a crucial presidential runoff in Cyprus, defeating his conservative rival with a majority of 53%.[139] In 2007, the Danish Socialist People's Party more than doubled its parliamentary representation to 23 seats from 11, making it the fourth-largest party.[140] In 2011, the Social Democrats, the Socialist People's Party and the Danish Social Liberal Party formed a government after a slight victory over the main rival political coalition. They were led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt and had the Red–Green Alliance as a supporting party. In Norway, the red–green alliance consists of the Labour Party, the Socialist Left Party and the Centre Party and governed the country as a majority government from 2005 to 2013. In the January 2015 legislative election, the Coalition of the Radical Left led by Alexis Tsipras and better known as Syriza won a legislative election for the first time while the Communist Party of Greece won 15 seats in parliament. Syriza has been characterised as an anti-establishment party,[141] whose success sent "shock-waves across the EU."[142]

Jeremy Corbyn, who won the Labour Party leadership on a campaign of a rejection opposed to austerity and a rejection of Third Way Blairite politics within the Labour Party itself. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1283133

In the United Kingdom, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) put forward a slate of candidates in the 2009 European Parliament election under the banner of No to EU – Yes to Democracy, a broad left-wing Eurosceptic, alter-globalisation coalition involving socialist groups such as the Socialist Party, aiming to offer a leftist alternative among Eurosceptics to the anti-immigration and pro-business policies of the UK Independence Party. In the subsequent 2010 general election, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, launched in January 2010[143] and backed by Bob Crow, the leader of the RMT, along with other union leaders and the Socialist Party among other socialist groups, stood against the Labour Party in forty constituencies. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition contested the 2011 local elections, having gained the endorsement of the RMT June 2010 conference, but it won no seats.[144]

Left Unity was also founded in 2013 after the film director Ken Loach appealed for a new party of the left to replace the Labour Party which he claimed had failed to oppose austerity and had shifted towards neoliberalism. Following a second consecutive defeat in the 2015 general election, self-described democratic socialist Jeremy Corbyn succeeded Ed Miliband as the Leader of the Labour Party.[145] This led some to comment that New Labour is "dead and buried." In the 2017 general election, Labour increased its share of the vote to 40%, with Labour's 9.6% vote swing being its largest since the 1945 general election.[146] Under Corbyn, Labour achieved a net gain of 30 seats and a hung parliament, but the party remained in Opposition. In the 2019 general election, Labour's vote share of 32% fell by 7.8% compared with 2017, although it was higher than for the two previous elections,[147] leading to a net loss of 60 seats and leaving it with 202, its fewest since 1935.

In France, Olivier Besancenot, the Revolutionary Communist League candidate in the 2007 presidential election, received 1,498,581 votes (4.08%), double that of the candidate from the French Communist Party candidate.[148] The party abolished itself in 2009 to initiate a broad anti-capitalist movement within a new party called the New Anticapitalist Party, whose stated aim is to "build a new socialist, democratic perspective for the twenty-first century."[149]

In Germany, The Left was founded in 2007 out of a merger of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and the Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative (WASG), a breakaway faction from the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) which rejected then-SPD leader and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder for his Third Way policies. These parties adopted policies to appeal to democratic socialists, greens, feminists and pacifists.[150] Former SPD chairman Oskar Lafontaine has noted that the founding of The Left in Germany has resulted in emulation in other countries, with several Left parties being founded in Greece, Portugal, Netherlands and Syria. Lafontaine claims that a de facto British Left movement exists, identifying the Green Party of England and Wales as holding similar values.[137] Nonetheless, a democratic socialist faction remains within the SPD.[151] The SPD's latest Hamburg Programme (2007) describes democratic socialism as "an order of economy, state and society in which the civil, political, social and economic fundamental rights are guaranteed for all people, all people live a life without exploitation, oppression and violence, that is in social and human security" and as a "vision of a free, just and solidary society", the realisation of which is emphasised as a "permanent task." Social democracy serves as the "principle of action."[152]

On 25 May 2014, the Spanish left-wing party Podemos entered candidates for the 2014 European parliamentary election, some of which were unemployed. In a surprise result, it won 7.98% of the vote and was awarded five seats out of 54 while the older United Left was the third largest overall force, obtaining 10.03% and five seats, four more than the previous elections.[153] Although losing seats in both the April 2019 and November 2019 general elections, the result of the latter being a failure of negotiations with the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), Podemos reached an agreement with the PSOE for a full four-year coalition government, the first such government since the country's transition to democracy in 1976.[154] While failing to get the necessary 176 out of 350 majority investiture vote on 5 January 2020,[155] the PSOE–Unidas Podemos coalition government was able to get a simple majority (167–165) on 7 January 2020[156] and the new cabinet was sworn into office the following day.[157]

The government of Portugal established on 26 November 2015 was a left-wing minority government led by Prime Minister António Costa Socialist Party, who succeeded in securing support for the government by the Left Bloc, the Portuguese Communist Party and the Ecologist Party "The Greens".[158] This was largely confirmed in the 2019 legislative election, where the Socialist Party returned to first place, forming another left-wing minority government, this time led only by the Socialist Party. Nonetheless, Costa said he would look to continue the confidence-and-supply agreement with the Left Bloc and the Unitary Democratic Coalition.[159]

5.5. Oceania

In Australia, the labourist and socialist movements were gaining traction and the Australian Labor Party (ALP) was formed in Barcaldine, Queensland in 1891 by striking pastoral workers. In 1889, a minority government led by the party was formed in Queensland, with Anderson Dawson as the Premier of Queensland, where it was founded and was in power for one week, becoming the world's first government led by democratic socialists. The ALP has been the main driving force for workers' rights and the welfare state in Australia, backed by Australian trade unions, in particular the Australian Workers' Union. Since the end of the Whitlam government, the ALP has moved towards centrist policies and Third Way ideals which are supported by the ALP's Right Faction members while the supporters of democratic socialism and social democracy lie within the ALP's Left Faction. There has been an increase in interest for socialism in recent years, especially among young adults.[160] Interest is strongest in Victoria, where the Victorian Socialists party was founded.[161]

Current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of the democratic socialist New Zealand Labour Party, who has called capitalism a "blatant failure" due to the extent of homelessness in New Zealand,[162] has been described and identified herself as democratic socialist,[163] although others have disputed this.[164]

In Melanesia, Melanesian socialism was inspired by African socialism and developed in the 1980s. It aims to achieve full independence from Britain and France in Melanesian territories and creation of a Melanesian federal union. It is very popular with the New Caledonia independence movement.

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