The nature of power is shifting yet social democratic organisations continue too often to exemplify a model of hierarchical bureaucracy, tending to see power as a zero-sum quantity won or lost internally in factional battles and externally in elections.
But power is dynamic, fluid and positive sum (the same team of people can be powerless or powerful depending on how they work together). It can be generated – in whatever circumstances – through creativity, collaboration, integrity and generosity. The phrase ‘in’ or ‘out of power’ may refer to control of the Government but it also speaks to a more fundamental problem with how the leadership cadre of social democratic parties think about change.
The most surprising event of this political era is what hasn’t happened. The world has not turned left. Given the financial crisis, widening inequality, the unpopularity of the right’s stances on social issues and immigration, you would have thought that progressive parties would be cruising from win to win.
But, instead, right-leaning parties are doing well [because]… they have loudly (and sometimes offensively) championed national identity[,] they have been basically sensible on fiscal policy… [and their] leaders did not overread their mandate.