Despite the market triumphalism that greeted the end of the Cold
War, the collapse of the Soviet empire seemed initially to herald new
possibilities for social democracy. In the 1990s, with a new era of
peace and economic prosperity apparently imminent, people discontented
with the realities of global capitalism swept social democrats into
power in many Western countries. The resurgence was, however, brief.
Neither the recurring economic crises of the 2000s nor the ongoing War
on Terror was conducive to social democracy, which soon gave way to a
prolonged decline in countries where social democrats had once held
power. Arguing that neither globalization nor demographic change was
key to the failure of social democracy, the contributors to this volume
analyze the rise and decline of Third Way social democracy and seek to
lay the groundwork for the reformulation of progressive class
Offering a comparative look at social democratic experience since
the Cold War, the volume examines countries where social democracy has
long been an influential political force - Sweden, Germany,
Britain, and Australia - while also considering the history of
Canada's NDP and the emergence of New Left parties in Germany and
the province of Québec. The case studies point to a social democracy
that has confirmed its rupture with the postwar order and its role as
the primary political representative of workingclass interests. Once
marked by redistributive and egalitarian policy perspectives, social
democracy has, the book argues, assumed a new role - that of a
modernizing force advancing the neoliberal cause.
Bryan Evans is an associate professor in the
Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University.
Prior to joining Ryerson in 2003, he held senior policy advisory and
management positions in the Ontario Legislature and Government.
Ingo Schmidt is an economist and the coordinator of
the Labour Studies Program at Athabasca University. He has taught in
Germany as well as Canada and was formerly staff economist with the
metalworkers union, IG Metall, in Germany.