The Soviet Union and the Socialist and Social Democratic Parties of Western Europe

by John Van Oudenaren

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The Socialist, Social Democratic, and Labor parties of Western Europe have always presented special opportunities and difficulties for Soviet foreign policy. From the Soviet perspective, these parties are important for three reasons, all of which must be considered in making policy toward them and toward Western Europe in general: (1) most of these parties are actual or prospective governing parties; (2) they represent that part of the West European public that Soviet analysts regard as "realistic" in its attitudes toward the Soviet Union and "progressive" on other issues; and (3) the parties of the non-Communist left, at least according to Soviet ideology, are potential partners in the revolutionary struggle. This Note examines Soviet policy toward the non-Communist left in Europe in light of the three roles these parties play in Soviet eyes. It reviews Soviet strategy toward the non-Communist left as it has evolved in recent years, analyzes trends within the parties of the non-Communist left and the way in which they are responding to various Soviet initiatives, and considers the implications for the Atlantic alliance of these trends and of Soviet efforts to exploit them.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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