The excerpt below comments on European developments but it perhaps even more so in Australia -- where the Leftist leader (Rudd) sounds very conservative indeed on most issues. He even seems to be a genuine Christian
In Europe, reforms are in vogue. Though many special interests are fiercely resisting change, it is striking to see just how many European Social Democrats have come to recognize the need for structural reforms to welfare states.
Witness Gerhard Schroeder, the center-left former chancellor of Germany: in 2003, he called for a "change of mentality" in his own party, the SPD, as well as in German society as a whole. "Much will have to be changed to keep our welfare and social security at least at its current level," he added, as he argued in favor of reforms that would trim entitlements, and cut taxes. The chairman of the SPD, Franz Muentefering, supported Mr. Schroeder by saying that "we believe that things must be rearranged and restarted in Germany in this decade." Not long thereafter, Mr., Schroeder took the lead in making German labor laws more flexible.
In France, Socialist former prime minister Lionel Jospin shocked the left several years ago: When asked on TV what he was going to do to help laid-off factory workers beyond the public assistance already on the books, he said that "the state cannot do everything." It was not so much the truth of the statement that came as a shock; it was that a leader of the French left would say it so candidly. Throughout his tenure, Mr. Jospin privatized numerous state-owned companies, including Air France, even as he criticized capitalism.
Labour former British prime minister Tony Blair became famous for his "Third Way" philosophy, which he said moved "beyond an old left preoccupied by state control, high taxation and producer interests."
And in Italy, on July 20, center-left prime minister Romano Prodi announced a deal raising the retirement age to 61 from 57. Though the deal was a somewhat watered-down version of the pension reform plan originally passed by his center-right predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, it shows that the Italian left is aware that structural reforms are urgently needed.
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