Social democracy is a political ideology. It tries to promote social justice, through direct state intervention in the capitalist economy. The regime in which it is framed is that of a representative democracy.
Social democracy is a political ideology. This is responsible for promoting, within the framework of a capitalist economy , the direct intervention of the State in the economy. The purpose of the intervention is to be able to redistribute income in a more social way, guaranteeing the welfare state and the general interest.
The main objective of social democracy is to reduce the levels of inequality within an economy. That is why, as a left-wing current, it promotes a redistribution of wealth through a complex tax system. A political trend that claims to commit to poverty, as well as the priority of having extensive universal public services.
Although wrongly linked to socialism, social democracy is far from the socialist concept. Both are currents of the left, but the social democracy considers among its principles the guarantee of the functioning of representative democracy, as well as a social economy, but a market one.
History of social democracy
Social democracy is a political current that has its origin in Europe. This was born in the middle of the 19th century, based on leftist principles, promoting a socialism with a greater democratic character. In this way, democracy advocates a united Europe , where the collective forces guarantee a welfare economy.
The social democratic current is born in France. This current was born during the revolution of 1848, so it has a great reform component since its inception. Although Karl Marx has defined democracy in his writings, the truth is that there is a great disparity of opinions about who was the true founder of social democracy in Europe.
Another Marxist, Eduard Bernstein, claimed that the term Social Democrat was coined by the German poet Gottfried Kinkel. In this way, Bernstein’s statements gain credibility in the face of the appearance of the first political party that defined itself as a social democratic party, since its country of origin is German. A party founded by Ferdinand Lassalle, which was called the “General Association of German Workers”.
This political party was the first in history to be called a Social Democrat. And he did it through his main newspaper, which was called “The Social Democracy”. In this way, a political current is born that continues to enjoy great political representation today. However, it is no longer only in Europe, but its expansion is already global.
Main characteristics of social democracy
The main characteristics that define modern social democracy, as well as its demands in the different parliamentary bodies are:
- Mixed economy.
- Reinforced public services.
- Free and universal education.
- Free and universal healthcare.
- A strong Social Security system.
- Immigration policies and cultural diversity.
- Strong representative democracy.
- Support for ecology.
- Support for the creation of intermediate representatives who look after the interests of the most vulnerable groups ( unions, competition agencies, consumer aid agencies …).
- Progressive tax system.
- Progressive policy, against conservative values.
- Promotion of what the social democracy calls “Social Justice”.
- Foreign policy based on cooperativism and multilateralism.
Criticism of social democracy
Since its inception, social democracy – as has happened with many other political ideologies throughout history – has been harshly criticized from the liberal and conservative point of view. And, although the social democracy claims to defend the free market , its strong commitment to government intervention in the economy questions the definition that the social democracy makes of liberalism , in contrast to other currents such as liberalism. A liberalism in which state intervention is subsidiary or, in some cases, does not exist.
On the other hand, Social Democracy has also been harshly questioned due to the guarantees that Social Democracy itself collects and which are required of it to be effective. Among those principles, the most questioned has been that of representative democracy. The difficulty that democratic systems present in making representation and that – as promoted by social democracy – includes minorities, has founded the criticism.