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A mutating crisis

The internal fracturing of traditional political parties is the most recent victim of instability caused by the financial collapse

Pablo Iglesias and Albert Rivera
Pablo Iglesias and Albert RiveraULY MARTIN

Since 2008, the world has been living through a crisis that began with a financial rupture and mutated into a profound economic recession. On top of that, we’ve seen a disaster of political representation, sometimes directly connected to austerity politics and other times to economic inequality and groups whose voices have been ignored for decades. It’s the political and not the economic crisis, however, that continues to stretch on today, branching out and transforming the face of political races in most countries – and it’s the political crisis that seems to be defining our future.

The first consequence of the Great Recession was the electoral punishment of the governments, which took a major hit during elections in the beginning of the crisis. The second was a phenomenon seen in many countries where citizen discontent transformed into forceful rejection of traditional political groups (a term coined to differentiate them from the political parties that were lifted up in the name of anti-politics, antiestablishmentarianism, or populism). The most recent effect of this crisis is the internal fracture of old parties, which are now debating within themselves what is the best strategy to face this new political era.

While the current electoral system makes it difficult for new parties to break though, the goal for the more established political groups is to maintain internal unity while simultaneously assimilating parts of the radical, antiestablishment discourse (specifically anti-EU, anti-political/economic-elite). The problems that Republicans and Democrats alike are facing in North America at recent conventions, or the painful ordeal of the UK’s Labour Party, reflect this difficulty to adapt.

However, where new parties have made it to the main stage, such as in Spain, the challenge for traditional political groups becomes differentiating its rhetoric from that of these new competitors, responding at the same time to the demands that the newcomers have introduced into the political agenda – demands that the old parties didn’t know how to, or want to, address.

The internal fracture of traditional parties is the newest victim of this political crisis, but it probably won’t be the last.

 English version by Allison Light.


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