When the global financial crisis erupted in 2007, it seemed liked the ideal moment for the political left to launch a comeback, particularly in Europe. The crisis was a disaster that started in the very heart of capitalism, the banking system, and which triggered massive layoffs, soaring unemployment and painful home foreclosures. In the U.S., the financial crisis helped the left-of-center Barack Obama win the White House. But throughout Europe voters seemed generally disinclined to bring leftist politicians to office.
That might be about to change.
After several years of the center-right taking the reins in Europe, 2012 could come to represent a pivot year for the left. Scattered polls, particularly in France and Britain, suggest the left may be poised to mount a comeback. Once again, the right's failings have presented the perfect conditions for a political changing of the guard, but it's not yet clear that leftist politicians and strategists will figure out how to capitalize on the inability of the center-right to restore economic growth.