Social Democratic Party’s Electoral Strategies Amid Social Class (Re)alignment and (Re)mobilisation





Social  Democratic  parties  have  long  been  steady  pioneers  of  European  democracy,  but  over  the  past  decade  they  have  suffered  a  humiliating  collapse.  It  is  commonly  asserted  that  European  countries  have  entered  a  classless  society.  Subsequently,  mainstream  left  parties  adopted  broad  electoral  strategies  to  appeal  widely  to  the  median  voter,  exemplified  by  the  Blair-Schröder  Third  Way. Electoral backlash following the British and German social democratic party’s 1990s neoliberal shift, their approach to globalization as well as their handling of the financial crisis and refugee crisis have eroded their popularity. Subsequent frustration with the political establishment is exemplified by the cultural backlash thesis. However, a countermovement signified by postmaterialism and social liberalism calls for transformative social and political change. The two convictions clash on binary issues,  exacerbating  a  righteous  divide  between  sociocultural  liberals  and  conservatives,  recently  popularized as the “anywheres” and the “somewheres”. This paper puts forth the necessity for social democratic  parties  to  re-engage  with  the  cleavage  politics  of  today.  This  is  particularly  important  as  today’s  cleavages  are  largely  ideologically  driven.  Questions  of  electoral  strategy,  ideological  positioning and mobilisation tactics are contested intra-party. Attention is paid to Corbyn’s Labour, whose move towards traditionalism at first earned electoral support, only to be discredited in 2019. In comparison, the German SPD embraced centrism in 2017 and were penalized for it. They must now respond and offer a strategic alternative following competition from the Greens and Die Linke.