Social Democratic party policies in Europe
The late 1990s witnessed the return to power of Social Democratic parties in a majority of western European countries. For a period of time, eleven of the ﬁfteen EU Member-states were ruled by left-of-centre governments. This situation did not last very long, as by the early 2000s Social Democrats had been forced out of ofﬁce in several countries, but it represents a unique opportunity to assess and rethink the left’s role in western European politics. As a matter of fact, the brief spell of Social Democratic hegemony did result in widespread and sustained debate on the future of the left, the orientation it should take and its prospects as a political force.