Europe is entering a new political epoch. The centre-left, now in government in many EU countries, has struggled to modernize itself and is now defining the shape of politics for the future.
Bodo Hombach's book is one of the most important early attempts to flesh out the Third Way - moving it from being a successful electoral project to become a governing philosophy. Hombach, one of Gerhard Schr"der's closest advisers, who was Minister of State in the Chancellor's office, is a colourful and controversial figure. He has been described as the 'German Peter Mandelson' because he was the architect of Schr"der's election victory in 1997, which brought the Social Democrats to power after a decade and a half in opposition. His book, a bestseller in Germany, is the clearest definition of the popular 'Die Neue Mitte' project on which Schröder was elected, and on which the German voters will judge the government. It is striking in its bold rejection of many of the left's traditional approaches - the confrontational traditions of employers versus workers, the private sector versus the public sector, free market forces versus state direction - and this explains why Hombach and his book have been at the centre of the fierce debate about the soul and the future direction of social democracy.
Professor Anthony Giddens and Mark Leonard, in the preface and introduction, put the book in the context of the global debate about the development of the Third Way, and also draw comparisons with events in the United Kingdom.
Hombach's book is destined to become a key text on the future of European social democracy, of interest to political activists, policy-makers and students of politics.