The Radical Left Party Family in Western Europe, 1989-2015: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Radical Left Party Family in Western Europe, 1989-2015

1st Edition

By Paolo Chiocchetti


244 pages | 35 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138656185
pub: 2016-10-06
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315622057
pub: 2016-10-04
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This book provides an innovative analysis and interpretation of the overall trajectory of the Western European radical left from 1989 to 2015. After the collapse of really existing communism, this party family renewed itself and embarked on a recovery path, seeking to fill the vacuum of representation of disaffected working-class and welfarist constituencies created by the progressive neoliberalisation of European societies. The radical left thus emerged as a significant factor of contemporary political life but, despite some electoral gains and a few recent breakthroughs (SYRIZA in Greece, PODEMOS in Spain), it altogether failed to embody a credible alternative to neoliberalism and to pave the way for a turn to a different developmental model.

This book investigates why this was the case, combining aggregate (17 countries), case study (Germany, Italy, and France), and comparative methods. It accurately charts the evolution of the nature, strength, cohesion, and influence of the Western European radical left, offering new insights in explaining its behaviour, success, and limits. It is essential reading for scholars, students, and activists interested in the radical left and in contemporary European politics.


"I believe that what Chiocchetti’s careful and very detailed reconstruction does is to highlights the great differentiation among partisan subjects who would like to be grouped into a single family."

Carlo Baccetti, University of Florence, The Professional Review of the Italian Political Science Association

"…its contribution goes beyond the bounds of academia insofar as it provides not only a comprehensive and freely available database with temporally homogenized data on party strength of several European radical left parties operationalized based on electoral, governance, and membership strengths (both in term of absolute and weighted strengths), but also a sophisticated methodology that we can apply to other cases to broaden our understanding of the evolution and prospects of radical left in western Europe."

Babak Amini, Department of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK, New Political Science

Table of Contents


1. Toward an analysis of the contemporary Western European radical left

2. The Western European landscape, 1914–1988

3. The Western European landscape, 1989–2015

4. The German radical left: a success story5. The Italian radical left: the story of a failure

6. The French radical left: success or failure?

7. Filling the vacuum? The trajectory of the contemporary radical left in Western Europe


About the Author

Paolo Chiocchetti holds a PhD in European Studies from King´s College London. He is a Research Associate at the University of Luxembourg.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Radical History and Politics

The series Routledge Studies in Radical History and Politics has two areas of interest. Firstly, this series aims to publish books which focus on the history of movements of the radical left. ‘Movement of the radical left’ is here interpreted in its broadest sense as encompassing those past movements for radical change which operated in the mainstream political arena as with political parties, and past movements for change which operated more outside the mainstream as with millenarian movements, anarchist groups, utopian socialist communities, and trade unions. Secondly, this series aims to publish books which focus on more contemporary expressions of radical left-wing politics. Recent years have been witness to the emergence of a multitude of new radical movements adept at getting their voices in the public sphere. From those participating in the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, community unionism, social media forums, independent media outlets, local voluntary organisations campaigning for progressive change, and so on, it seems to be the case that innovative networks of radicalism are being constructed in civil society that operate in different public forms.  

The series very much welcomes titles with a British focus, but is not limited to any particular national context or region. The series will encourage scholars who contribute to this series to draw on perspectives and insights from other disciplines.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Europe / Western
HISTORY / Europe / France
HISTORY / Europe / Germany
HISTORY / Europe / Italy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Communism & Socialism
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / Comparative
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Political Parties
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Radicalism
POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / European