Friday, September 22, 2006

Post-communism adrift

I am writing a paper on Indian Communism for a conference in December. One aspect will be a comparison with post-communist parties in Europe. They are not doing well. The Hungarian Socialists are battling riots after the Prime Ministers unfortunate video confession. A striking debacle was that of the Polish ex-Communist 'Democratic Left' fell from 41% in 2001 to 11.3% in 2005, probably the worst electoral collapse for a social-democratic party in history? The Polish election brought to power the rabidly homophobic Law and Justice Party, which draws support from anti-Semitic catholic extremists. Initial interpretations, such as that of Geoff Eley, of the surprising electoral comeback of ex-Communists saw them as a belated social-democracy trying to defend structures of social protection. But says the BBC on Hungary:
Despite greater freedoms, many Hungarians feel they have been marginalised and left behind in a fast-changing nation as a small and powerful elite get richer at their expense.
It seems similar in Poland; perhaps why 265,000 have emigrated to the UK after Poland joined the EU.
In Poland and Hungary the ex-communists seem to uphold the liberal banner against the nationalist and Catholic right. But their failure to deal with economic grievances has enabled the illiberal right to appear as the voice of the disenfranchised. Looks rather like how the failures of Arab left paved the way for Islamic fundamentalism.

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