A decade into the new century, Europe is beset by a striking mood of social pessimism. 49% of EU citizens believe they will be worse off in 20 years time, with majorities perceiving the rise of emerging economies as direct threats to their living standards. Such anxiety presents a particularly dehabilitating political problem for social democracy. Historically, the promise of social progress has been a powerful force in all of its projects, and a cornerstone to the movement’s political offer. Overwhelming disbelief in the primacy of political ideas and the ability of politicians to make a difference has translated into voter resignation and subsequently to widespread withdrawal from political life.

The contributions to this issue of Queries are the results of a symposium that took place in London in March this year as a joint contribution to the FEPS Next Left research programme and Policy Network – Wiardi Beckman Stichting Amsterdam Process. The political circumstances and academic inspiration that dictated the theme and framed the debate are reflected upon in the foreword of Ernst STETTER and in the introductory texts by Alfred GUSENBAUER, Olaf CRAMME and René CUPERUS, and Patrick DIAMOND. Outlining an agenda based on three-pillars, this issue aspires to contribute to a debate on both the future of Europe and the renewal of social democracy.

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