Labor's Loves Lost? Lessons From Around The World

Labor's Loves Lost? Lessons From Around The World

These are challenging times to be a center-left labor party. Economic and technological shifts have eroded their traditional blue collar voter bases, and political appeals based on national identity are more vigorous these days than those based on class affiliation.


But the news for labor parties isn’t all bad. Here are Gabe’s snapshots of four labor parties and the lessons they tell us about the outlook for the center-left:

Identity Crisis, UK Labour Party: Rescued from the political doldrums after Prime Minister May’s ill-advised 2017 snap election, the Labour Party has been polling neck-and-neck with the Tories over the past year. But party leader Jeremy Corbyn is a divisive figure: his past communist sympathies and pledges to nationalize industries have put off many within the party’s old guard. Moreover, Labour suffers from the same internal splits over Brexit as their Tory rivals, leaving little room for them to attack the current government on that issue. Caught between past and present, and with no clear position on the biggest issue of the day, the UK Labour Party has a new lease on life, but is still grasping for a new identity with no easy resolution in sight.

The Only Alternative, Australian Labor Party: When your opponents go through three prime ministers in five years, you don’t have to do much more than sit back and watch if you’re the Australian Labor Party. Dysfunction within the ruling Liberal Party has benefited Labor, which is now polling 12 points ahead of their center-right opponents in government. All they have to do is hold on until the new prime minister, Scott Morrison, decides to call for new elections, most likely mid-next year. The bad news is that the forces that are pulling apart the Liberals – increasing right-wing populism – may tug at Labor’s supporters before long as well.

Steadily Losing Ground, Swedish Social Democratic Workers’ Party: In Sweden, the Social Democrats, who’ve rung up first place in every single election since 1917, face their biggest challenge in decades. The far-right Sweden Democrats, who have origins in the country's neo-Nazi movement, are poised to become the largest opposition party in a national election on Sunday, capitalizing on increasing backlash against Sweden’s generous asylum and immigration policies. At the same time, support for the center-left Social Democrats has nearly halved over the past 25 years.

Making Room For A New Face, Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT): In Brazil, the major center-left party, the PT, is still hugely popular, but it faces a crisis of leadership. After their favored candidate, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (whom Obama once called “the most popular politician on earth”), was jailed on corruption charges and disqualified from running in next month’s presidential election, they’ve turned to Fernando Haddad, a former mayor of Sao Paulo. Polls show that support for Lula is twice that of the next closest candidate, right-wing firebrand Jair Bolsonaro. But Mr. Haddad has been polling in single digits. The challenge for the PT is one many parties face: how to establish loyalty beyond a single transformational figure.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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