Neo-Liberal Renovación, Democratic Transition, and Fragmentation: The Fall of Spain’s Socialist Hegemony
The March 1996 electoral defeat of the Spanish Socialists may have some profound ramifications for the political Left outside of Spain. The Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) was viewed in the popular press and by leading academic observers as a model that other Social Democratic parties should emulate. The Socialists’ pragmatic, centrist policies and their courting of the middle class and the business community seemed to secure four straight electoral victories. The PSOE, in effect, would dominate Spain’s electoral landscape throughout its recent democratic period. The Socialist government’s neo-Liberal, free-market policies, however, would contribute to severe internal divisions within the PSOE in the 1990s, compromising its hegemonic political status and contributing mightily to its 1996 defeat. What is surprising about the Spanish case is the rapidity and scale of the Socialist Party’s organizational and ideological collapse in the mid 1990s after so much startling success.
KeywordsSocialist Party Party Organization Social Democratic Party Leftist Party Electoral Victory
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