Published by Research Gate, 2022

Authors: Alice Mattoni, Julia Rone (Research Associate, Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy)

Chapter in the book ‘ Developments in European Politics’

The last decade’s European social movements have, by any standard, shaken up the political system of Europe. While anti-austerity protests in Spain, Italy and Portugal could do little to prevent austerity policies in the immediate aftermath of the crisis, their activism brought about challenger parties and had a long-lasting transformation of their countries’ political systems. Challenger parties with roots in social movements, such as Podemos in Spain or Movimento 5 Stelle in Italy, became key players in political life, reaching impressive electoral results and entering government coalitions. In Portugal, a left-block coalition pursued a series of progressive reforms giving hopes for social democracy in decline elsewhere on the continent. To the right of the political spectrum, social movements such as PEGIDA in Germany successfully pushed centre-right parties’ discourse on immigration, to the right. While protest politics has been traditionally dominated by left-wing actors in Western Europe and right-wing actors in the East (Borbáth and Gessler 2020), the last decade has seen a considerable rise of far-right social movements in the West and a slow diffusion of left-wing ideas to the East (Rone 2020). All in all, in the aftermath of a turbulent decade, European politics has become increasingly radicalized and polarized, with a shrinking centre and a rise of Green politics, especially in Germany. At the same time, movements’ demand for ‘real democracy now’ (della Porta 2013) has contributed to democratic innovations of citizen consultations and of decision-making processes within political parties (Wolkenstein 2019).


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