Day By Day

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In Germany -- Another Win for the Good Guys

Even as Obama and his minions try ever more desperately to drag America leftward, Europe has begun to move decisively to the right.

From the NYT [you know it had to kill them to write this]:

PARIS — A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of Socialism’s slow collapse.

Even in the midst of one of the greatest challenges to capitalism in 75 years, involving a breakdown of the financial system due to “irrational exuberance,” greed and the weakness of regulatory systems, European Socialist parties and their left-wing cousins have not found a compelling response, let alone taken advantage of the right’s failures.

German voters clobbered the Social Democratic Party on Sunday, giving it only 23 percent of the vote, its worst performance since World War II.

Voters also punished left-leaning candidates in the summer’s European Parliament elections and trounced French Socialists in 2007. Where the left holds power, as in Spain and Britain, it is under attack. Where it is out, as in France, Italy and now Germany, it is divided and listless.
Read it here.

This is a wonderful development, but I can't get too excited about Europe's repudiation of the Left's brand of government. In the European context, moving right means embracing socialism lite.

Europe’s center-right parties have embraced many ideas of the left: generous welfare benefits, nationalized health care, sharp restrictions on carbon emissions, the ceding of some sovereignty to the European Union. But they have won votes by promising to deliver more efficiently than the left, while working to lower taxes, improve financial regulation, and grapple with aging populations.

Europe’s conservatives, says Michel Winock, a historian at the Paris Institut d’√Čtudes Politiques, “have adapted themselves to modernity.” When Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Germany’s Angela Merkel condemn the excesses of the “Anglo-Saxon model” of capitalism while praising the protective power of the state, they are using Socialist ideas that have become mainstream, he said.
So, I find myself having to curb my enthusiasm for Angela Merkel's accomplishment. What she has done in Germany is important, but it will take far more to roll back the collectivist tide.