The four Visegrad states — “condemned to cooperate” due to high stakes regarding UK social welfare benefits — were seen as a major obstacle to the British EU reform proposals. This helped their group’s branding; and their own Euroscepticism might now be mollified by their negotiation success.
Talking of the decline of the Left and the Right has become commonplace in European politics. The message is the same: they are are “old” categories which make little sense nowadays. If we accept as true the common knowledge of the convergence of the Left and the Right, there are two questions to be asked about it: the first is “why could this have happened” while the second is “is there anything that can be done about it?”
After 5 long years of recession (which included a change in Westminster from a Labour to the first coalition government since WWII of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats), dissatisfaction with politics is high, populism thrives and identity politics is ripe - not only in Scotland that may leave the UK after the referendum this summer.
In many European nation-states, traditional left and right-wing parties are increasingly challenged, by voters who express their dissatisfaction by not going to the polls or voting for newly emerged and/or extremist parties, and by these parties, which present themselves as an alternative. But neither of these challenges has fundamentally threatened neither the left-right cleavage nor the existence of traditional left and right wing parties in any member state.
Thatcher’s TINA-Principle (“There is no alternative”) seems to apply in the European fabric of austerity measures. Economic refugees, downright cuts in public spending for welfare, health, pension and educational systems are their severe consequences. These are policy issues that traditionally concern the Left that leaves the policy room yet untrodden. How come?