A New Progressive Era

BERLIN — 3 July 2017

‘Killer idea’ for progressives – Online voting now open

31st May 2016

You can now cast your vote for your favourite of our top five ‘killer ideas’ for progressives:


Helping working-class parents have middle-class kids

Richard Angell – Director of Progress, the UK Labour party’s centrist pressure group

The point of social democratic parties is to help working class parents bring up middle class kids and to help people with middle class incomes to have middle class savings. Social mobility and security are the new challenges to align.


Politics is not a full-time job. And everyone is invited

Karolina Leakovic – International secretary of the Croatian Social Democratic party and a former member of parliament

A rapid technological, economic and societal change makes our environment more complex on daily basis and often hard for decision-makers to understand. While on one hand, people tend to distrust political parties and avoid voting and elections, many informal, self-organised movements and initiatives – on the other hand – seem to attract younger, more progressive and future-oriented people. Conclusion might be: we are interested in politics, in ideas and in improving our societies. We are fed up with politicians. The ritual of replacing ones with others every four years does not sound appealing anymore. Do we really need those? Can’t we simply use technology to involve as many people as possible in decision-making – as often as possible?

Is there a progressive answer to the crisis of political representation? Can we all be politicians? And aren’t we?


Shifting the political discourse to socioeconomic topics

Timo Lochocki – Transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Germany

Centre-left parties do not only struggle because centre-right and far-right parties have an easier time winning voters with conservative and even anti-immigration rhetoric. Centre-left parties must not only address their strategic limitations during salient migration debates, but especially how to draw attention to political issues voters ascribe issue competence to them: Social Justice and Economics. How this can be done is still an open question and calls for a strategic reflection upon the mechanisms that lead the political discourse to turn away from socio-economic topics to cultural matters; finally, on how centre-left parties can strengthen the salience of economic matters – their bread and butter topics.


Time for a tax switch

Josie Pagiani – Progressive political commentator in New Zealand

This killer idea for progressives is rooted in an idea that will surprise no-one; that progressive movements exist to further the interests of everyday working people.

After Thomas Piketty, we know that working people earn a declining share of national wealth in the absence of intervention, whether the economy is growing well or not.

Therefore, the killer idea for progressives is to identify *the share of wealth going to everyday working people* as the central narrative explaining our mission, our opponents’ failings and our offer. Where our opponents blame immigrants, globalisation or foreigners, welfare cheating, bureaucrats or the state for whatever shortcomings they identify in society, we say the issue is that working people, even skilled workers, have to run harder just to stay on the treadmill. Unless you think we’ve peaked and made enough wealth, we need to back the next generation of wealth creators.

So our solution should be a tax switch from income to capital (‘from earners to owners’, ‘from when you are working your way up the hill, to when you have got there’). Cut income tax, increase tax on capital. I would complement this with schemes to help working people to earn a proportionate share of capital – e.g. through workplace savings schemes, home ownership, and some public investment. But the killer idea is the tax switch from earring to owning, moving progressively more of the tax share from income tax to capital tax.


Public building where all generations can meet

Sarah Vaaben – Researcher at Policy Network from Denmark

Family and household structures have changed significantly over the past 50 years in western Europe and this is expected to continue. Life expectancy has increased across Europe with a growth in single households, particularly those owned/lived in by older people. At the same time, family structures are becoming more complex with a decline in marriage and an increase in the number of single-parent families in most western countries. This generates a need for creating spaces for peoples to meet across generations outside their homes.

Publicly funded building projects should account for these changes by making sure there is space for generations to meet. This could be made possible by launching national public building schemes where new projects include multi-functional rooms and spaces that would facilitate activities for people other than the primary user group. When building schools, homes for elderly, sports facilities, concert halls etc. the buildings should offer recreational areas and restaurants/cafeterias that can be used by people of all ages. Playgrounds could be placed near old people’s homes and schools could share cafeteria facilities with other institutions. There are endless opportunities and if included in an overall strategy for public building it may not even be costly.


Vote for your favorite 'killer idea' for progressives: