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The renegotiated alliance between left and organised labour in Western Europe

Simoni, Marco (2007) The renegotiated alliance between left and organised labour in Western Europe. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The alliance between the Left and organised labour in the majority of European countries is not over, contrary to the arguments of much of the current literature on industrial relations and electoral socialism. During the 1980s and 1990s, social democratic governments approved over 70% of their socioeconomic policies in cooperation with trade union confederations. These policies are distinct from the Keynesian model of the post-war decades which directly benefited labour, and are based on the monetarist macroeconomic regime. As a consequence, the alliance can be renegotiated only under certain conditions, which do not always exist. This thesis builds a comprehensive framework to account for party/union interactions, including instances of renegotiated alliances and also of more strained relationships. In order to do so, it examines the constraints and incentives faced by each actor separately, and then brings them together. Quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as historically-informed discursive approaches and game theoretical modelling, are employed. In an age of globalisation and social fragmentation, social democratic parties no longer need trade union partnerships for purposes of economic management, but they retain electoral incentives to include unions in policy making. These incentives are contingent upon union acceptance of limited gains from policy negotiations: excessive concessions to unions would alienate nonunion workers from the social democratic vote. In turn, organised labour is able to accept modest gains (which, under an unfavourable overall scenario are nonetheless positive) only if it is very cohesive. I show that confederation democracy - not coercion as traditional neo-corporatism would contend - is negatively correlated to wage militancy because it contributes union cohesion, and therefore it is key to determining party/union cooperation. The argument of the renegotiated alliance explains the importance of decision-making processes in determining outcomes, the enduring political relevance of trade unions, and the characteristics of the social democratic electorate.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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