The global financial crisis of 2009–2010 has further underscored the demise of social democracy as a legitimate political alternative, for example, due to an absence of a clearly articulated alternative approach to the crisis offered by Social Democratic parties, even though neoliberal deregulated markets have proven to be vulnerable to the corrupt and opaque practices that created a massive crisis of systemic confidence. The author contends that the Maastricht process has transformed the Western European party system away from parties based on ideology and toward catchall issue-oriented parties. For Socialist and Social Democratic parties, this has meant the end of the centrality of the welfare state in their ideological domain. However, other trends have been equally damaging. Unionization, which has been in decline since the 1980s, primarily because of the changing nature of the labor force in postindustrial societies, has been further affected by the Maastricht criteria, which sought to enhance the competitiveness through increasing productivity, reducing wage costs, and significantly restructuring the labor relations that organized labor had achieved. For Social Democratic parties, the changing demographic of its support base, the ideological collapse of the Soviet Union, the adoption of the Maastricht convergence agenda, and the rise of a debt-infused consumer culture has meant death.

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