Call for papers: The radical left and crisis in the EU: from marginality to the mainstream?

Call for papers: The radical left and crisis in the EU: from marginality to the mainstream?

 A conference supported by Edinburgh University Europa Institute/Jean Monnet Centre for Excellence will be held at the University of Edinburgh on 17 May 2013. We are inviting papers on relevant topics by 15 March 2013.

Conference rationale

The aim is to analyse the response of the European radical left to the international economic crisis and the ‘age of austerity’. This is a topic both of intellectual and practical interest. The economic crisis and the accompanying trauma of neo-liberalism has certainly increased intellectual interest in classical left-wing ideas, not least Marx and Keynes.[1] Ideas long propagated by the left, such as the Tobin Tax, are increasingly mainstream, even among the European centre-right.

         In theory, this intellectual interest might presage a political return for the left in Europe. However, the picture is mixed at best: on one hand, the 2009 European parliamentary elections, the onset of austerity and the victories of right-wing populist parties in countries such as Hungary, Finland and the Netherlands might indicate that the right is winning the crisis in Europe. On the other hand, Francis Fukuyama has recently speculated about the possibility of a ‘Tea Party on the left’ leading a populist uprising against a crisis rooted in the ‘model of American liberalized finance’.[2] Radical left parties have long seen themselves as the most consistent opponents of the ‘really existing EU’ and have long-standing roots in anti-capitalist protest movements. They have certainly benefited in some countries – they are now in government in four EU members (as well as Iceland and supporting the government in Ukraine). However, they have not been successful in other countries (e.g. the UK, Italy and Portugal) and a consistent radical left ‘uprising’ is difficult to demonstrate.

This conference proposes to analyse the radical left’s response to the crisis in Europe with two principal aims:

1. To examine and clarify the nature of radical left intellectual opposition to the EU:  what are the strategic and ideological arguments put forward by this opposition, what is the role of Euroscepticism and populism therein? How have these changed in response to the crisis?

2. To examine and clarify the nature of radical left political opposition to the EU:  what are the social and electoral sources of support for radical left parties and movements? How and to what extent do they challenge the EU mainstream? How do they interact with their competitors (such as radical right, Green and social democratic parties)?

The main thematic areas of the conference will be the following:

  • The radical left and Euroscepticism
  • The radical left and populism
  • Radical left links at EU level
  • The radical left in government
  • The radical left and the new anti-capitalist movements (e.g. Occupy! The Indignados etc)
  • Radical left party organisational adaptation
  • Changes in party-voter linkages

Applicants are invited to submit paper proposals of no more than 500 words and an accompanying biographic statement of no more than 200 words to Luke March (l.march@ed.ac.uk) no later than 17 March 2013.


[1] E.g. R. Skidelsky, Keynes: The Return of the Master (London: Penguin, 2010); E. Hobsbawm, How to

Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism (London: Little, Brown, 2011

[2] F. Fukuyama ‘’Where Is the Uprising from the Left?’, Spiegel Online, 1 February 2012,

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,812208,00.html.

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