Europe's mainstream political parties are aiming to reverse decades of pro-market policy, signaling the biggest shift in economic policy on the continent in decades, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In Germany, the U.K, Denmark, France, and Spain, politicians trying to stop the exodus of voters to anti-establishment, populist, and special interest parties, are promising greater state control of business and the economy, more welfare benefits, bigger pensions, and higher taxes for corporations and the wealthy, the Journal reported.
"The zeitgeist of globalization and liberalization is over," said Ralf Stegner, vice chairman of the 130-year-old Social Democratic Party in Germany, the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's government coalition, the Journal reported. "The state needs to become much more involved in key areas such as work, pensions, and healthcare."
Wolfgang Schmidt, deputy German finance minister and one of the strategists behind the SPD's new approach, said the success of socialists in Spain, Britain, and Denmark, in elections and opinion polls, shows voters have turned against economic orthodoxy, the Journal reported.
"As a society, we need to stop looking down on people," he said, the Journal reported. "Anxiety about the future of work is driving voters to populists. People read about automation and self-driving cars and they ask themselves what will happen to their jobs in the near future."
According to the Journal, the back-to-the-70s policies mark the end of an era in Europe that started four decades ago, with the ascent of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her U.S. ally, President Ronald Reagan.
In the U.K., Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labor Party, has proposed renationalizing railways, public utilities, the postal service, and the Royal Bank of Scotland, the country's second-biggest lender — a reversal of the privatization spree initiated by Thatcher, the Journal reported.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron reacted to weeks of violent street protests by abolishing plans to increase fuel prices and announcing measures to boost the incomes of low earners, the Journal noted.
Denmark's Social Democrats, who had been out of government since 2015, won a general election June 5 following a policy makeover that included going further left on economic policy, while sharply turning right on immigration, the Journal reported.
And in Spain, Pedro Sanchez, acting premier and leader of the Socialist Party, won the national and the EU elections this year after sharply raising the minimum wage and announcing a boost in social benefits and corporate taxes.
According to the Journal, the far-right Alternative for Germany, known as AfD, which lost ground in last month's EU election, recently consulted with Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump's former chief strategist and now an adviser to nationalist and populist parties in Europe.
"The real message is the economy," Bannon told the Journal. "Populists need to talk to the workers."
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