The Good Society Project

Building the Good Society

In 2008, German and British social democrats started a debate on how to build the Good Society, outlined by Andrea Nahles and Jon Cruddas in their pamphlet “Building the Good Society. The project of the Democratic Left”. This pamphlet was translated into German, Swedish, Hungarian and Portuguese.

This led to an online debate on Social Europe Journal, broadening the initially bilateral debate to a European discussion on progressive ideas for our societies. 90 people from all over the world, among them politicians, academics and activists, contributed to the debate and the website had more than 20,000 visitors. For a summary of the online debate, please click here for the English version and the German version.

This summary was translated into Turkish and Spanish. The English version of the summary was published in Renewal - a Journal of Social Democracy, whereas the Internationale Politik Analyse of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung published the German version.


In 2010, FES London and Compass held a major conference on “Building the Good Society” with over 60 participants from think tanks, academics and politicians from 17 European countries. Subsequently, 5 regional conferences on different dimensions of the Good Society were held throughout Europe in co-operation with the FES network:

  • on Democracy in Istanbul (2010)
  • the Political Economy in London (2010)
  • Equality in Stockholm (2011)
  • Party Reform in Berlin (2011) and
  • Sustainability in London (2011)

These conferences provided a lot of input for two books published in the context of the Good Society Project.


Good Society 2.0

This extensive basis of work built the starting point from which in 2013 already involved but also new actors reconvened in London to ask “What’s next for the Good Society”. In a workshop, the way ahead was discussed and it was concluded that the Good Society can only be achieved in a European framework. This approach was underlined by input the Good Society Group could feed into the PES manifesto process in the run-up to the European election 2014.

Since then, the FES network continues to foster the exchange on the national, European and international level on various aspects of the Good Society-debate.

Our head office organises a yearly conference in Berlin:

  • In 2014 it organised a conference on the socio-economic dimension of needed reforms to deepen the debate from various country perspectives.
  • The social and economic crisis in Europe was the leading topic for the following gathering in September 2015 in Berlin

FES London continues to organise regular meetings within the project to discuss specific areas:

  • In October 2015, FES London hosted a meeting addressing the question how the shape a democratic and digital future in Europe in the wake of the digital transformation, bringing together representatives from UK, Germany, Greece, Sweden, Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic.

The Good Society-debate has also been picked up by other FES offices in Europe (e.g. Czech Republic and Portugal) and beyond (South Korea, Mexico and Japan).