Traditional large tent parties have begun to struggle. In response, there is a temptation to appeal to certain segments of society. Our guests Tim Bale and André Krouwel advise that social democratic parties do not narrow their messaging and instead find ways to communicate in overarching narratives.
The time of catch-all politics is over
Bale and Krouwel discuss the challenges to social democracy and to understanding the current electorate. Against common misconceptions, Krouwel states that the majority of voters are not leaving social democratic parties for far-right parties. Instead, they vote green, liberal or centre-right.
Developing a right-wing agenda or imitating certain aspects of other moderate and centre-left parties is not a path forward, according to Krouwel: social democratic parties should focus on their traditional strength as a big-tent movement unified around social justice and progress.
"Did voters leave the party or did the party leave the voters?" (André Krouwel)
How can social democrats revive themselves?
Regaining trust by constantly demonstrating a visible moral compass is a good place to start. Bale and Krouwel debate exactly how much policy details parties should communicate, but both argue strong and personable leadership should have a higher premium. Relatable leadership can help communicate several signature policies that accurately represent the underlying morality of the party.
"People need to see themselves reflected in the leadership" (Tim Bale)
This session was designed in cooperation with the Foundation For European Progressive Studies.