Europeanizing Social Democracy?: The Rise of the Party of European Socialists, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Europeanizing Social Democracy?

The Rise of the Party of European Socialists, 1st Edition

By Simon Lightfoot


178 pages

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Presenting a detailed explanation of party politics in the European Union, this new book uses the Party of European Socialists (PES) as a key case study, and tests the relevance of existing theoretical work on the meaning, significance, and prospects for realising other ‘Europarties’.

This analysis operates from the assumption that the PES’s main goal is to influence the outcome of EU public policy, rather than the more traditional party goals of vote maximisation or office seeking. Secondly, by subjecting the PES to careful scrutiny in two specific policy areas (employment and environment) and for specific treaties (in particular the Treaty of Amsterdam), it tests the PES’s ability to construct policy to influence actual policy outcomes. Finally, it shows that whilst the PES was able to play a role in co-ordinating policy amongst the member parties since its formation in 1992, its influence has been exaggerated and the strength of the factors that limit its effectiveness have been underestimated. It argues that domestic policy imperatives and ideological differences between the member parties have hindered the development of the PES, thereby advancing our knowledge of Europarties and contributing to the literature on the Europeanization of political parties.

This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of the European Union and party politics in general.


'With the pressures exerted on traditional forms of democracy by neo-liberal economic forces, and the growing inter-dependence of the states of the European Union, the Party of European Socialists has great potential importance. The supreme virtue of Simon Lightfoot's thoughtful and well-researched book is that it avoids the extremes of wild optimis and undue pessimisim. Anyone who wishes to understand the significance of social democracy at a transnational level will learn a great deal from this book.' - Professor Michael Lightfoot, London Metropolitan University, UK

'This book will prove very interesting to scholars of European political parties and social democracy.' - Political Studies Review

Table of Contents

List of Tables


List of Abbreviations


1: Theoretical Perspectives: How to understand Europarties

2: Historical Context: from the First International to the PES

3: The Social democratic policy area: PES Employment Policy

4: The PES and the development of Socialist Environment Policy

5: A success story? PES Influence over the outcomes of the Treaty of Amsterdam

6: PES influence on the EU agenda since Amsterdam

Conclusion: The PES and the Europeanization of social democracy

Appendix One: Full Member, Associate And Observer Parties of the PES



About the Author

Simon Lightfoot is a lecturer in European Politics in the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds. His interests include Europarties, in particular the Party of European Socialists, and European Union Environmental Policy. He is co-author with J. Burchell of Greening the European Union (Sheffield/Continuum Publishers, 2001).

About the Series

Routledge Advances in European Politics

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General