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Christoffer Green-Pedersen and Kees van Kershergen, "The Politics of the 'Third Way': The Transformation of Social Democracy in Denmark and The Netherlands," Party Politics, 8 (September 2002," 507-524.

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In 2000, Social Democratic parties were in office in most West European countries, which sparked off a new wave of academic study on Social Democracy (e.g. Glyn, 2001; see Powell (2001) for an overview). The debate has centred around the concept of the 'third way' as theoretically elaborated by Giddens (1998, 2000, 2001) and politically advanced, for instance, in the Blair-Schröder paper (1999).

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A further question relates to the permanence of the transformation of the parties in the two countries. The implication of our analysis is that the parties are likely to abandon the 'third way' if it is rational to do so from a vote- and office-seeking perspective. Before the Dutch elections of 2002, it was hard to see that a government without the PvdA could be formed so long as the party stayed on the 'third way' course. This is because it promised to establish the party as the pivot of the coalition game, between, on the one hand, the Conservative Liberals and, on the other, the smaller left-wing parties and the Christian Democrats. Both the new declaration of Social Democratic principles and the new election manifesto thus underpinned the Dutch 'third way'. The extraordinary events during the election (the murder of Pim Fortuyn and the electoral defeat), however, have made the continuation of this course uncertain. In the Danish case, the recent loss of power may cause the party to move away from the 'third way' line. The rational opposition strategy in terms of office-seeking may again be to attack a non-socialist government for being on an ideological crusade against the welfare state. Well aware of this, the new Conservative-Liberal government has followed a pro-welfare state line, but if it finds it necessary to introduce welfare state retrenchment, it can expect tough Social Democratic opposition. The Social Democrats are likely to oppose the same kind of measures as they themselves have introduced in the 1990s. A further challenge is of course how to handle the issue of refugees and asylum-seekers. A hope for the party is that it will be less dominant on the political agenda in the future. But the rise of a populist right-wing party in The Netherlands indicates that this hope is likely to be an idle one.