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The end of the twentieth century saw an unprecedented coincidence of electoral success for social democratic parties in western Europe leading to intensive discussion on the future of this new European left. The debates often centred on the notion of a 'Third way' and generated major expectations for policy change among social democratic politicians and voters. The authors collected here examine the recent social and employment policies of these progressive parties, looking for change in the guiding principles of policy and on actual policy decisions. They show how the maxims of demand management and egalitarianism have been replaced by social investment and equality of opportunity and demonstrate the full extent of convergence on policies such as employment maximization, the containment of social expenditure and a shift towards a social investment welfare state.
Published: 27th November 2003