Cuts have prompted mass dissatisfaction with mainstream political parties across the globe. But where is the alternative?
What is happening? The short answer is “austerity“. Mass dissatisfaction with the major parties is tied to pessimism about the economy, and a view that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Living standards are sliding in all of the core capitalist economies, but most of all in those countries where austerity has been most advanced – Greece and Ireland. There is a bipartisan consensus in most of these nations’ parliaments in favour of some form of austerity politics, despite its unpopularity.
It would also be foolish to underestimate the ability of the major parties to reconstitute their popular base. The Tories’ core vote is behind austerity. And they are past masters at macroeconomic manipulation intended to make just enough voters feel wealthy enough for long enough during election time. Labour, through its union affiliations and its base in working-class communities, will preserve its dominance over the left-of-centre vote for as long as there is no credible alternative. The major parties are in crisis, but a crisis is not terminal unless there are forces ready to exploit it.