Transnational networking and cooperation among neo-reformist left parties in Southern Europe during the Eurozone crisis:
: SYRIZA, Bloco and Podemos

  • Vladimir Bortun

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    European parties to the left of social democracy have always lagged behind the main political families in terms of transnational cooperation at the level of the EU. However, the markedly transnational character of the Eurozone crisis and of the management of that crisis has arguably provided a uniquely propitious context for these parties to reduce that gap. This research project aims to establish whether they achieved that by focusing on three parties that were particularly prone to seeking an increase in their transnational cooperation: SYRIZA from Greece, Bloco de Esquerda from Portugal and Podemos from Spain. For these parties not only come from the member states most affected by the crisis, both economically and politically, but they also share several programmatic and strategic features favouring such an increase.

    By using a mix of document analysis, semi-structured interviews and non-participatory observation, the thesis discusses both the informal and formal transnational networking and cooperation among the three parties. This discussion reveals four key findings, with potentially useful insights for wider transnational party cooperation that are to be pursued in future research.

    Firstly, the transnational networking and cooperation among SYRIZA, Bloco and Podemos did increase at some point during the crisis, particularly around SYRIZA’s electoral victory in January 2015. Secondly, since the U-turn of that government in July 2015, SYRIZA’s relationship with both Bloco and Podemos has declined significantly, as reflected in their diverging views of the EU. Thirdly, both the increase and decline have been largely determined by rather pragmatic considerations linked to the dynamics of domestic politics, showing that the primacy of national politics also applies to nominally the most internationalist party family. Fourthly, formal cooperation is perceived as more significant than informal cooperation, with the political group in the EP as the most important framework for cooperation, in contrast to the limited significance attributed to social movements or political foundations.

    In answering the main research question, the thesis also contributes to the current literature by providing the first comparative study of three of the most successful left parties in the EU today and by mapping the transnational networking and cooperation of left parties, whose informal dimensions in particular have been largely unexplored so far.
    Date of AwardMar 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorWolfram Kaiser (Supervisor)

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