The Third Way and The Future of Social Democracy

The Third Way and The Future of Social Democracy

Left-of-center parties now hold or share power in most North American and West European countries, calling a halt to a conservative era that lasted from the end of the 1970s through the beginning of the 1990s. Much of their success can be traced to the economic insecurities and social dislocations resulting from the transition to economies based on high technology and global trade. And some of their appeal can be explained by public weariness with conservative parties that had held office for a decade or more and were showing signs of arrogance and exhaustion.

But progressives have also benefited from a new political approach that presents itself as a response to the new realities of the Information Age and a dramatic departure from the politics and policies of their own parties. Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder, their supporters in their own countries, and their admirers abroad have all called this new kind of politics the third way—a title that emphasizes its differences from laissez-faire conservatism and welfare-state liberalism as well. And this new kind of politics has seemed so successful that various schools of thought are eager to claim credit for its origins and ownership of its future.

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Lima