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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Juncture 21.4: Spring 2015


To confront the economic, social and ecological challenges facing us, we need a revived, democratised Europe. But how do we get there? In this issue of Juncture we present some of Europe's leading public intellectuals engaging with this question.

The German social theorist Fritz Scharpf argues that democracy, which has been undermined by the growing power that unaccountable transnational institutions have over national economies, must be allowed to flourish on both the national and EU levels – even if 'European integration' loses some of its unitary appeal in the process. Bo Str??th suggests that the 'political abandonment of politics' that has spread from EU technocrats outwards to member states has led to a crisis of legitimacy that can only be remedied by a fundamental restructuring of Europe.

In an exclusive interview, Claus Offe describes the euro as a 'disaster' that has widened economic inequalities between member states and deprived them of sovereignty without offering greater supranational democratic accountability. He believes that the EU can save itself only by becoming fairer and more democratic – but without breaking up the euro. Offe sees the rise of Syriza, Podemos and 'bottom-up politics' as potential agents for change across Europe as cause for hope. Yannis Stavrakakis, in his article, surveys the situation in Greece and asks whether a democratic left-wing populism is even possible in Europe. In doing so he seeks to rescue 'populism' as a category from being denigrated as excessive, irresponsible or mere nationalism.

Maurice Glasman takes us from populism to 'popularity and political mastery' in his profile of Pope Francis, while Katerina Dalacoura, looking to Greece's eastern neighbour, offers a corrective to claims about a recent Islamist and anti-western turn in Ankara, arguing that such accounts misunderstand Turkey's national identity and strategic priorities. Closer to home, our resident psephologist John Curtice plays out the different and complex scenarios that might result from May's general election, and Sofie Whiting casts some light on what we can expect from the Democratic Unionist party in the post-election fracas. As the current parliament draws to a close, Tim Bale looks back to the 12-step programme he set out in 2010 for Labour's time in opposition, and assesses how the party has fared in its half-decade outside of government.

Also in this issue, Matt Sleat, Ben Jackson and Elizabeth Frazer debate the value of realism in modern politics in relation to liberalism, equality and feminism respectively; Geoff Evans and James Tilley set out the terms of the new class war; Melissa Benn searches for radical hope in a study of a Nottingham estate; and Mike Kenny praises the work of historian Robert Tombs for cutting through romanticism, mythology and clich?(C) to challenge our assumptions about England's history and national character.

Read more: Editorial: Where now for Europe?


  • Editorial / Mathew Lawrence, Guy Lodge and Nick Pearce
  • A second great transformation in Europe: The rise and imminent fall of the technocrats / Bo Str??th
  • Interview / Claus Offe
  • Democracy large and small: Reforming the EU to sustain democratic legitimacy on all levels / Fritz Scharpf
  • Populism in power: Syriza's challenge to Europe / Yannis Stavrakakis
  • Survival on the outside: Assessing Labour in opposition, 2010–2015 / Tim Bale
  • Between money and morality: How would Northern Ireland's DUP approach post-election deal-making? / Sophie Whiting
  • Back to the future? How May 2015 could be February 1974 all over again / John Curtice
  • The new class war: Excluding the working class in 21st-century Britain / Geoff Evans and James Tilley
  • The primacy of politics: Towards a more realistic liberalism / Matt Sleat
  • Equality, Rawls and realism: Has the public debate caught up with the policy theory, or left it behind? / Ben Jackson
  • Including the uncountable: The realism of feminist politics / Elizabeth Frazer
  • Beloved of the people: The popularity and political mastery of Pope Francis / Maurice Glasman
  • Muslim and modern: Why Turkey's 'turn to the east' is no slight to the west / Katerina Dalacoura
  • The search for radical hope: Combatting the social exclusion of Britain's working class / Melissa Benn
  • Review / Michael Kenny on Robert Tombs