Since the ascendancy of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and electoral victories by Lula in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Ortega in Nicaragua , Bachelet in Chile, and Vazquez in Uruguay, there has been a lot of buzz regarding a general leftward lurch in Latin America. For those who see this as a positive development, the election victories of leftist candidates represents a general displeasure with the neo-liberal economic reforms that most Latin American governments have been following since the 1980s.
Some thoughtful pundits are pointing out that this leftward shift is not uniform in its leadership or ideology.
However, concurrent with this move to the left in Latin America, Western Europe is generally moving towards the center-right. With the exception of Zapatero in Spain (who won largely on an anti-war vote, rather than economic policy), electoral victories by the center-right have swept the Continent. While France’s Nikolas Sarkozy is the most recent example, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden have all shifted toward the center-right since 2000.
“Stratfor first forecast the decline of the European left in 2005, when Germany and Poland both elected center-right coalitions. The current agenda of the right in both countries favors participation in military alliances such as NATO and closer U.S. relations. The Polish government is an avid supporter of the missile defense shield proposed by the United States, and under Merkel, Germany is considering getting behind such a program — a policy her leftist predecessor, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, finds inconceivable. This change is not limited to Germany; the left has faltered throughout Europe, even in places where the right has historically been the underdog. For example, in September 2006, Sweden’s Social Democrats — the country’s oldest political party — lost control of Stockholm. In March, Finland elected the Center Party to power, and the June 10 Belgian elections likely will see the ouster of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and his Liberal Democrat Party. The right has yet to grasp power in Europe, but it will not be long before the conservatives consolidate their hold on the Continent.”