The workers' party and Europe: Trajectory of an idea

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Abstract

The Irish left was initially hostile to the process of European integration, campaigning against European Community (EC) membership in the 1972 referendum. The Labour Party has long since abandoned this position. More recently, the Workers’ Party, which entered the European Parliament after the 1989 elections, has radically reassessed its European policy. The emergence of a pro-EC stance reflects the overwhelming consensus on the issue in Ireland and the fact that there is little political mileage for the left in opposing European union. More fundamentally, a revisionist stance on European integration and on the prospects of ‘socialism in one country’ takes us to the heart of debates within the Workers’ Party about that party's future. The recent split within the party - and the emergence of a new left-wing party, Democratic Left - mirrors events elsewhere on the European left. The Workers’ Party's re-alignment inside the European Parliament in December 1991, away from the hard-line Left Unity Group towards the post-communist Group for a Unitary European Left, reflects the ‘Europeanist’ orientation of the party majority who have now formed Democratic Left. A further re-alignment, possibly within the life of the current Parliament, is increasingly likely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-39
Number of pages19
JournalIrish Political Studies
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1992

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