Author Topic: Why Europe Keeps Failing........ merged with "EU Seizes Cypriot Bank Accounts"  (Read 549782 times)

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Online Colin P

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2012, 13:42:19 »
The concept of good debt and bad debt is an established practice as is the non-payment of debt by companies. People, companies and corporations are routinely not paying their debts, it’s called bankruptcy. Once you declare bankruptcy you are protected from most debt, but at a price, you lose assets and the ability to borrow credit. The problem is that most citizens of these countries want the debt erased and then carry on as if nothing happened.
An example of “Odious debt” is the bill rung up by Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war. I firmly believe that France, China and Russia know that as soon as Saddam fell, so would the chances of being paid for the debts that he owed. To be fair to the Iraqi’s they had little say in the finances of Saddam and the named countries forwarded credit to someone that was not legitimately elected and therefore own a lot of the risk.
However in a Democracy, the people “own” the majority of that debt as the governments acted on their behalf, with their consent. So if the people wish to disown some of that debt, they must be willing to bear the consequences of that act. This is why I wanted the Greeks to have a referendum, as they needed to “own the problem” Currently I think they are not accepting the reality of their situation.   

Offline GhostofJacK

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2012, 14:05:40 »
Didn't know that angle before, Colin. Thx!  :D
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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2012, 09:59:45 »
An interesting perspective on German "leadership" in this article which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/germans-squirm-in-the-european-drivers-seat/article2331261/
Quote
Germans squirm in the European driver’s seat

TIMOTHY GARTON ASH

From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Feb. 09, 2012

In 1953, novelist Thomas Mann appealed to an audience of students in Hamburg to strive for “not a German Europe but a European Germany.” This stirring pledge was endlessly repeated at the time of German unification.

Today, we have a variation that few foresaw: a European Germany in a German Europe.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Berlin republic is a European Germany, in the rich, positive sense in which the great novelist had come to use the term. It is free, civilized, democratic, law-bound, socially and environmentally conscious.

It’s far from perfect, obviously, but as good as any other big country in Europe – and the best Germany we’ve ever had.

Yet because of the crisis of the euro zone this European Germany finds itself, unwillingly, at the centre of a German Europe. No one can seriously doubt that Germany is calling the shots in the euro zone. The reason there is a fiscal compact treaty agreed by 25 European Union member states is that Berlin wanted it. Desperate, impoverished Greeks are being told “do their homework” by Germans. More extraordinary still, the German Chancellor is now telling French voters who to vote for in their own presidential election, through a series of campaign appearances with President Nicolas Sarkozy. Everyone says Europe is being led by “Merkozy” but the reality is more like “Merkelzy.”

Germany did not seek this leadership position. Rather, this is a perfect illustration of the law of unintended consequences. German leaders, from Helmut Schmidt to Helmut Kohl, had envisaged advancing the European project through a European monetary union, but it was François Mitterrand’s France that insisted on pinning Germany down to it. Historians can argue about how far the commitment in the Maastricht Treaty was a direct quid pro quo for French support for German unification, but two things are clear. Both sides of the Rhine agreed that this was an important part of binding a newly united Germany into a more united Europe, in which France would continue to play a – if not the – leading role. And many Germans saw giving up their precious deutschmark as paying an economic price for a larger political good.

Twenty years on from Maastricht, we see that the precise opposite has happened. Economically, the euro turned out to be very good for Germany.

Politically, it is precisely the monetary union that has put Germany in the driver’s seat and relegated France to the front passenger seat.

So far, Germany is proving a reluctant, nervous and not very skillful driver.

There are many reasons for this. One of these is not wanting to be in the driving seat in the first place. Another is suspecting that everyone else in the car wants you to pay for the gas, the meal and probably the hotel too.

Then there is the unhappy sense that they are damned if they do lead and damned if they don’t. The terrible history that prompted Mann’s postwar appeal plays a role here. If Germany suggests a commissar to oversee Greek budget cuts, he inevitably gets called a gauleiter. Then there is the fact that the German elite simply is not used to playing such a leadership role in Europe, unlike the French elite, who like nothing better. The French want to, but can’t; the Germans can, but don’t want to.

Above all, there is the perennial dilemma of Germany’s awkward, in-between size: “too big for Europe, too small for the world” said Henry Kissinger.

Even with the most self-confident, adroit elite, and even without the memories of 1914-1945, leadership from that in-between position would be difficult.

Two things are therefore needed. First, all Germans should go back and read Mann’s short talk, both to understand the historical dimension of today’s challenge and to recall the intellectual and moral grandeur that was once theirs. For Mann’s beautifully crafted, profoundly moving message to those young Germans in 1953 can also be summarized in three short American words: “Yes we can.”

Second, they need a lot of help from their friends. They won’t manage it on their own. We may laugh at Sarko’s antics in the front passenger seat (“Non, non, ma chérie! Tout droit, tout droit!”), but he’s got the right idea. For Prime Minister David Cameron to consign Britain to the back seat of the European car at this critical moment is folly beyond words. Earlier this week, Ms. Merkel again stressed how much Germany wants to see this fellow northern European, free-market liberal country return to the heart of European affairs.

Back in Hamburg in 1953, the British were doing everything they could, in a far from ignoble way, to help ruined Germany back on its feet. It would be so shortsighted, so plain dumb, for Britain to abandon Germany to its own devices just when it finds itself playing such a decisive role in Europe – a role that it did not seek, for which it is ill-prepared and in which it needs all the help it can get.

Timothy Garton Ash is professor of European studies at Oxford University.


I'm not sure that history supports Timothy Garton Ash's penultimate and final paragraphs: Britain has never done well on the continent except as an interested outsider; Cameron may be playing his cards very well.

As for Merkel: there's no room for anyone useful in the front seat until she pushes France out. German's natural partners in the front seat are Austria, Finland, the Netherlands and, indeed, Britain; but there is no room for any of them and their good, sound economic practices, so long as France plays a leading role. France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece are the problem, not the solution.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline Good2Golf

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #28 on: February 10, 2012, 10:42:56 »

...As for Merkel: there's no room for anyone useful in the front seat until she pushes France out. German's natural partners in the front seat are Austria, Finland, the Netherlands and, indeed, Britain; but there is no room for any of them and their good, sound economic practices, so long as France plays a leading role. France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece are the problem, not the solution.

Concur.  Latin heritage is great in the bedroom, not so much in one's bank account.  Nordic-Teutonic heritage has a practical value that holds the key to long-term stability on the continent.

Online Chris Pook

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #29 on: February 10, 2012, 11:26:43 »
Which is least unsafe?

Option A - To be in a vehicle with a Latin and a Teuton fighting it out for control of the wheel?
Option B - To be at the side of the road watching a vehicle coming at you with a Latin and a Teuton fighting it out for control of the wheel?
Option C - To be driving on a road with two other vehicles, one with a Latin at the wheel and the other with a Teuton at the wheel?
Option D - To go to the Pub.
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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #30 on: February 10, 2012, 12:07:22 »
Which is least unsafe?

Option A - To be in a vehicle with a Latin and a Teuton fighting it out for control of the wheel?
Option B - To be at the side of the road watching a vehicle coming at you with a Latin and a Teuton fighting it out for control of the wheel?
Option C - To be driving on a road with two other vehicles, one with a Latin at the wheel and the other with a Teuton at the wheel?
Option D - To go to the Pub.


The correct answer is B followed, after the inevitable crash, by D. After D the new correct option is:

Option E - Buy a new car, let the Dutchman drive, the Brit navigate and the Teutons and Vikings pay of the gas, the meal and the hotel, too, as Timothy Garton Ash puts it.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Online Colin P

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #31 on: February 10, 2012, 15:09:26 »
Which is least unsafe?

Option A - To be in a vehicle with a Latin and a Teuton fighting it out for control of the wheel?
Option B - To be at the side of the road watching a vehicle coming at you with a Latin and a Teuton fighting it out for control of the wheel?
Option C - To be driving on a road with two other vehicles, one with a Latin at the wheel and the other with a Teuton at the wheel?
Option D - To go to the Pub.

I am so using this on my blog (with your kind permission of course)  :)

Online Chris Pook

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #32 on: February 10, 2012, 16:38:30 »
I am so using this on my blog (with your kind permission of course)  :)

Go for it.  :)
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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #33 on: February 15, 2012, 10:25:41 »
From the Telegraph's Debt Crisis Blog

Quote
13.50 Spain has confirmed it will submit its budget to the EC only after regional elections in Andalucia on March 25.
 
Is it just me or are elections in numerous countries this year (US, France, Spain, Greece) getting in the way of sorting out the financial crisis?
 

Quote
13.20 Big news now. Eurozone finance officials are examining ways of delaying parts or even all of the second bail-out programme for Greece while still avoiding a disorderly default, several EU sources have told Reuters. Delays could possibly last until after the country holds elections expected in April, they said.
 
While most of the elements of the package, which will total €130bn, are in place, eurozone finance ministers are not satisfied that Greece's political leaders are sufficiently committed to the deal, which requires Athens to make further spending cuts and introduce deeply unpopular labour reforms.
 
It is also not clear that Greece's debt-to-GDP ratio, which currently stands at around 160pc, will be cut to 120pc by 2020 via the agreement, as demanded by the 'troika' of the European Commission, IMF and European Central Bank.
 
There are proposals to delay the Greek package or to split it, so that an immediate default is avoided, but not everything is committed to. They'll discuss the options. There is pressure from several countries to hold off until there is a concrete commitment from Greece, which may not come until after they've held elections.
 

Quote
.....Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.....
  Some bunch of rebellious Yanks ca 1776.

Memo to Merkozy et al - you probably would have been better off letting Papandreou have his referendum.  You are all going to be judged by your citizenry in any event - including those that don't usually vote.

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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #34 on: February 15, 2012, 12:50:28 »
From the Telegraph's Debt Crisis Blog
  Some bunch of rebellious Yanks ca 1776.

Memo to Merkozy et al - you probably would have been better off letting Papandreou have his referendum.  You are all going to be judged by your citizenry in any event - including those that don't usually vote.


Very true ... remember Mark Carney's comments back then, he was right, too.

The Greeks are being asked to sacrifice a lot ... they need to understand how and why and they need to understand the alternatives and the consequences. When they do they can, should, in my opinion, must decide for themselves: a bailout with painful conditions or a default which might be even more painful.

Ditto, by the way, Italy, Spain, Ontario and Québec and, and, and ... including California, amongst others.
 
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #35 on: February 15, 2012, 19:09:09 »

More in the same vein ERC...

From the Telegraph again


Quote
20.33 We are hearing rumours that Germany, the Netherlands and Finland want guarantees from small Greek political parties that the bail-out measures will be kept in place, or for the elections in April to be called off.
 
20.22 A eurozone government source has reportedly told Dow Jones that both a troika presence and an escrow account is needed in Greece before a bail-out can proceed. An escrow account would ensure Greece gives priority to debt servicing.
 

And.....

Quote
16.03 German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble has got involved in Greek politics just before a teleconference on a second bail-out for the debt-stricken country. He told SWR2 radio:
 
When you look at the internal political discussions in Greece and the opinion polls, then you have to ask who will really guarantee after the elections… - and I find this very alarming - … that Greece continues to stand by what we are now agreeing with Greece. I am also not yet sure that all political parties in Greece are aware of their responsibility for the difficult situation their country is in.
 

Quote
18.36 More on Greek President Carolos Papoulias' attack on German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble (16.58). During a visit to the defence ministry, the Second World War veteran also said:
 
"I do not accept having my country taunted by Mr [Wolfgang] Schaeuble, as a Greek I do not accept it. Who is Mr Schaeuble to taunt Greece? Who are the Dutch? Who are the Finns? We always had the pride to defend not only our freedom, but also that of Europe.
 


Happy Families it is not.
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #36 on: February 20, 2012, 21:44:11 »
The north/south split is getting wider:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/9090332/The-European-project-is-splitting-apart-at-the-very-core.html

Quote
The European project is splitting apart at the very core
A gulf is growing between France and Germany over the future of the eurozone.

By Christopher Booker7:00PM GMT 18 Feb 2012244 Comments

Behind all the spin, smoke and fury of recent days, we see unfolding the greatest crisis in the history of the “European project”. What is emerging is a fundamental split which threatens to inflict on it by far the most serious reverse in its 62-year history. It is apt that this conflict should centre on what was always designed to be the supreme symbol of the drive to full European integration, the euro.

As Greece plunges into meltdown – its economy shrinking by more than a fifth, Athens burning, 200,000 businesses already closed or on the brink, unemployment approaching 25 per cent – it is clear that the EU is separating into two irreconcilable camps. On one hand, the defenders of the orthodoxy, led by the Commission and supported by France (which is exposed to a Greek default more than any other country), is battling to hold the line with another massive bail-out. They know that for Greece to leave the euro would be an unprecedented defeat for integration, with almost unimaginable consequences as other overborrowed countries follow suit. To avert this they are prepared to work as closely as possible with the puppet prime minister the EU has imposed on Athens to do its bidding.

On the other hand, it becomes increasingly clear that Germany, supported by Holland and Finland, has had enough. They see no point in throwing colossal sums of money into what Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, calls “the bottomless pit” of Greek debt. It is they who have wanted to pile ever more impossible demands on Greece to hurry on a default. If other debtor countries such as Portugal, Italy and Spain follow suit and leave the euro that they should never have been allowed to join – so be it.

What makes this moment so significant is not just that the disintegration of the eurozone will be by far the most serious check to the hitherto seemingly irresistible drive for “ever closer union”, but that it marks the rending apart of that Franco-German alliance which has been seen, ever since the Elysee Treaty of 1963, as the central “motor” of European integration. As the slow-motion crisis inches towards breaking point, France and the European institutions are on one side of an unbridgeable divide, and Germany and its increasingly restive people on the other. The latter see that the gamble of the euro has failed just as dismally as the Bundesbank had warned it would back in the 1980s – before being ruthlessly outmanoeuvred by Jacques Delors and Helmut Kohl.

National interest is reasserting its sway over a project that was inspired, above all, by the desire to suppress national interest. However the chips fall in coming days and months, the eurozone will disintegrate. The European dream has entered a nightmare stage from which there is no rational escape and the consequences will be horrendous, for Europe and the world.

Britain, itself sitting on a national debt which has doubled in five years and is still rising, is scarcely even a bit-player on the edge of this tragedy. If only Edward Heath could look up to see where his hubris has led us to.
Alex Salmond’s wind scam doesn’t ruffle Cameron

When David Cameron flew to Edinburgh for his testy exchanges over Alex Salmond’s plans for a referendum on Scottish independence, one rather important issue was not on the agenda. The same day, National Grid Plc announced that it is to spend £1 billion on the world’s longest undersea interconnector cable between Ayrshire and Cheshire, to enable Scotland to send up to 2.2 gigawatts of electricity down to England (with another to follow, down the east coast).

The declared purpose of these cables – in line with Mr Salmond’s pledge that Scotland will have enough wind turbines, within eight years, to ensure that 100 per cent of its electricity needs are met from renewables – is that all the surplus power they produce when the wind is blowing at adequate speeds can be exported to the English. What gets left out of this rosy picture (as I reported on January 21) is that, when Mr Salmond has closed down all Scotland’s nuclear and fossil-fuel power stations and the wind is not blowing at the right speed, the Scots will be relying on those same cables to import some three-quarters of the power they need from conventional power stations in England.

Furthermore, thanks to the ludicrous subsidies for wind energy, the Scots will be able to sell their electricity to the English at two to three times the price they pay for the much larger amount of power they import. This almighty rip-off will be paid for by the English through their electricity bills (not to mention the £2 billion cost of those two cables). Of course Mr Cameron – with his enthusiasm for windmills of the type which earn his father-in-law £1,000 a day – would not worry about a little thing like that.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #37 on: March 21, 2012, 10:38:32 »
Maybe, if this article which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail is to be believed, Britain is turning the corner:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-news/uk-cuts-income-tax-sees-economy-picking-up/article2376242/
Quote
U.K. cuts income tax, sees economy picking up

MATT FALLOON AND SVEN EGENTER

London— Reuters
Published Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2012

British finance minister George Osborne cut personal income taxes but aimed new levies on the wealthy on Wednesday, taking a political gamble while pledging to stick to his government’s tough austerity plan.

He also said that Britain’s economy was improving, although growth is set to remain very modest this year.

In a move that will please his own Conservative party, he cut a 50 per cent income tax band for the highest earners to 45 per cent, from next year on. The Conservatives say that high a levy is a barrier to aspiration. The Labour opposition say it is a fair way to spread the pain.

In a nod to the Liberal Democrats, the junior coalition partner, Osborne raised the income tax threshold by more than previously announced to £9,205 ($14,300 U.S.), taking more poorly paid people out of the tax net.

Mr. Osborne also introduced a new 7 per cent stamp duty rate on sales of property worth more than £2 million. But he cut corporation tax 2 pence to 24 pence in April.

“We’ll be getting five times more money each and every year from the wealthiest in our society,” he said, in a statement opponents are likely to challenge.

Mindful of the risk that heavily indebted Britain could lose its prized top-notch credit rating, Osborne said there was no room to soften the plan of unprecedented spending cuts and tax increases, aimed at reducing sky-high debts.

A shock jump in public sector borrowing to a new record in February, released ahead of the budget statement, provided a stark reminder that the chancellor of the exchequer had no money to provide the fragile economy with a significant boost.

“This budget reaffirms our unwavering commitment to deal with Britain’s record debts,” Mr. Osborne said in his budget speech to parliament.

Despite the ongoing risks from the euro zone debt crisis, Britain’s economy was set to avoid a renewed recession and growth is expected to pick up in coming years, Mr. Osborne said.

The coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats also remained on track to meet its fiscal targets to erase the budget deficit - which topped 11 percent before it took office - within the next five years.

In November, the ongoing economic weakness had forced Mr. Osborne to add two more years of austerity after the 2015 election and pointing to a much slower recovery than they expected when they took power in 2010.

Ratings agencies have warned Britain that it could be downgraded, with apparently only Mr. Osborne’s unwavering determination to cut the deficit keeping them onside for now.

Britain has been hit hard by the 2007-2009 financial crisis and had to spend tens of billions to bailout major banks.

The recovery from the steep slump has been very weak, with the economy still running well below its pre-crisis peak and the unemployment rate at its highest in 16 years.

Many Britons have experienced the worst squeeze on their living standards in at least a generation as price rises outpaced meagre wage growth and the government’s tax increases and austerity measures are eating into households budgets.

But in recent weeks, the overall mood among businesses is slowly improving after taking a severe knock from the euro zone crisis at the end of last year.

The government’s Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that growth should pick up from the 0.8 per cent predicted for 2012 to 2.0 per cent next year and 2.7 per cent in 2014, leaving its November predictions largely unchanged.

The government’s Office for Budget Responsibility forecast predicted that net borrowing would fall from £126-billion in 2011/2012 to £21-billion in 2016/2017.

Overall Britain’s public sector debt as share of gross domestic product (GDP) will peak at 76.3 per cent in 2014/15 before falling, fulfilling the second part of the fiscal target.

Any hopes for stimulus still rest squarely with the central bank and Wednesday’s minutes suggested those chances of more money printing are receding.

Minutes from the Bank of England’s latest meeting, also released on Wednesday, showed rising concerns about oil prices and future wage inflation, in a sign that the central bankers may be reluctant to extend quantitative easing beyond the current target of £325-billion.


There is no relief for defence in this budget and my guess is that absent an Argentine invasion of the Falklands, and even if there is a dramatic economic recovery, Britain will still demand some major cuts in defence.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #38 on: April 23, 2012, 04:51:22 »
If, and it's still a big IF, Britain is "turning the corner" in the right direction then France appears to be veering left, in the fundamentally wrong direction, according to this article which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/a-surge-from-frances-right-as-sarkozy-hollande-prepare-to-face-off/article2410319/
Quote
A surge from France's right as Sarkozy, Hollande prepare to face off

DOUG SAUNDERS

LONDON— From Monday's Globe and Mail
Last updated Monday, Apr. 23, 2012

Europe’s simmering mood of anti-establishment anger seemed to erupt into French politics as voters turned their backs on conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy with a first-round presidential election result that was polarized between strong centre-left support and a resurgent extreme right that received a record fifth of the vote.

In a rare exception to the solid wall of conservative blue that covers much of Europe’s political map, Socialist Party leader François Hollande captured 28.5 per cent of the vote, ahead of Mr. Sarkozy’s 26 per cent, according to projections. Even these modest returns required both major candidates to deliver messages of stark anti-Europe and anti-capitalist anger, often in a reversal of their traditional more moderate positions, just in order to keep up with the more extreme parties.

The two will face each other in a May 6 runoff vote, and the next two weeks could prove a pitched battle to capture votes from an angry two-fifths of the electorate who, apparently alarmed by globalization, immigration and the collapse of the euro, cast its lot with the parties on the fringes.

A good part of France’s anger was directed at Mr. Sarkozy himself, whose air of haughty luxury, un-presidential emotional outbursts and close relations with his German counterpart have spurred a phenomenon known as l’anti-sarkozysme. Yet there seemed to be a wider anger as well, aimed at the entire economic and political system.

The biggest shock of the evening was far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, whose National Front is hostile to religious minorities and opposed to immigration. She was projected to end up with a staggering 19.6 per cent of the vote, according to projections, a record for her party and possibly the strongest result an extreme-right party has received in a recent European election.

Though not enough to make her a final-round contender, that result means that a good part of the major candidates’ activities in the next two weeks will be devoted to trying to win the support of her voters by appealing to their fears of economic and cultural insecurity.

Mr. Sarkozy seemed to acknowledge this Sunday night when he addressed his party, the Union for a Popular Movement, to explain the poor result. “Voters have expressed fear and anxiety in the face of a new world,” he said, before using rhetoric that seemed to come from Ms. Le Pen’s speeches. “We have to protect the French way of life,” he said, framing immigration and globalization as threats.

Indeed, it sounded like an echo of the speech Ms. Le Pen gave at around the same time to a jubilant audience. “We are seeing French opinion changing,” she declared, “returning to traditional French values that Marine Le Pen embodies.”

The odds are good, but far from certain, that France’s presidency will change on May 6 from right to left for the first time since Francois Mitterrand’s 1981 victory. One projection on Sunday, by the polling firm Ipsos Mori and based on current voting intentions, shows Mr. Hollande beating Mr. Sarkozy by 54 per cent to 46 per cent.

But even Mr. Hollande is likely to be effected by the strong Le Pen showing – a large part of her success came from her appeal to working-class voters alienated by globalization, the same constituency Mr. Hollande tried to reach with his unusually left-wing campaign in which he railed at the market economy and promised to raise taxes on the wealthy and withdraw from European Union fiscal obligations.

Surveys show that the centre-right Mr. Sarkozy will pick up only half of Ms. Le Pen’s supporters in the runoff, while a fifth of her voters intend to switch to Mr. Hollande. Some of her support may have come from people casting a protest vote against the establishment, but who would rather see a Socialist win than Mr. Sarkozy. But it’s also fair to say that Mr. Hollande and Ms. Le Pen are part of the same phenomenon. They both campaigned against the established conventions of European politics, including the tight bond between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy that had been at the root of a euro-crisis bailout pact built around fiscal austerity and limited growth. Ms. Merkel, perhaps unwisely, had sealed the “Merkozy” relationship by endorsing her French counterpart.

Both the extreme-right leader and the Socialist Party veteran were campaigning against that European status quo. Ms. Le Pen wanted to withdraw all but completely from the euro zone and the European Union, and Mr. Hollande wanted to renegotiate the European fiscal treaty so that it was built on growth and stimulus rather than austerity.

Mr. Hollande also will gain the lion’s share of votes from far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who won 11 per cent of the vote after a charismatic and attention-grabbing campaign, and spent the weekend urging his followers to back Mr. Hollande in order to prevent a Sarkozy re-election.

“I call on you to come out on May 6 and beat Sarkozy without asking for anything in exchange. I urge you: don’t drag your heels, mobilize as though it were me you were sending to victory in the presidential election,” he told his backers. No such support for Mr. Sarkozy emerged from Ms. Le Pen.


The French, like the Americans, hold themselves in the highest possible regard and with even less reason. The "anti-establishment anger" is even a copy of what's happening in the USA on both ends of the political spectrum ("Occupy" vs "Tea Party") but the French copy is neither as authentic nor as productive as the American originals.

No one should be sorry to see Sarkozy go but it's a bit sad that he will be replaced by someone even worse.


21st century France
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline GAP

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #39 on: April 23, 2012, 06:43:29 »
Germany and France were the two main proponents holding up the ultimate fate of the Eurocrisis, and if France is flushing itself out of it's position, I don't see much good coming out of Europe in the next few years.......
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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #40 on: April 23, 2012, 08:02:05 »
Is National Front really an "extreme right" party, or is it another case of the left painting its unwelcome cousins with the "right wing" brush?
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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #41 on: April 23, 2012, 08:12:49 »
Is National Front really an "extreme right" party, or is it another case of the left painting its unwelcome cousins with the "right wing" brush?


I'm not sure about its economics: more national socialist than conservative if I understand what little I have read. It is socially nationalist: anti-immigration, à la Enoch Powell without the intellect, maybe closer to Oswald Mosley.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline Good2Golf

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #42 on: April 23, 2012, 11:08:59 »
How long do we think it will take before Germany taps out and reverts to the DM?

Regards
G2G

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #43 on: April 23, 2012, 11:42:02 »
How long do we think it will take before Germany taps out and reverts to the DM?

Regards
G2G


My guess is not soon, despite enormous domestic political pressure to 'decouple' from the profligate Latins; the costs of collapsing the Eurozone - and that's what a German withdrawal (followed quickly by Dutch and Finnish withdrawals) would do - would be enormous. The only question is: are the costs (to Germany) of collapsing the Eurozone greater than the costs of sustaining it?
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline Good2Golf

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #44 on: April 23, 2012, 13:21:09 »
Mr. Campbell,

While I think that (West) Germans do fundamentally believe that the frustrations and challenges they experienced integrating the GDR into a unified Germany were "worth it", I'm not convinced that they have mentally ruled out absorbing a little more pain a second time -- especially if that means less long-term impact (the perpetual bail-outs, etc...) on their society's quality of life/economy, i.e. de-linking themselves from the net average drain of those profligate latins on their economy.

That said, you may well be right about "not soon."  However, if someone makes the case for a second 'investment' in time and national treasure over a suitable period, Germans are pargamatic enough as a people, that they may do so.

Regards
G2G
« Last Edit: April 23, 2012, 13:24:14 by Good2Golf »

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #45 on: May 06, 2012, 18:27:45 »
So, the Greeks have, finally, had the referendum they (probably) should have had 18 months ago. They have decided that they don't like hard work and saving: quelle surprise!

A few days ago former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder wrote a newspaper article (International Herald Tribune? Straits Times? South China Morning Post? - sorry I cannot remember) in which he begged Chancellor Merkel to back away from austerity and to give the French, especially, but also the Italians and Spanish what they really want: a free ride.

Why would Schröder, a sensible enough fellow, even if he is a Social Democrat, want Germany to throw its good money after bad? Because he has a bigger fear; in the article he suggested, darkly, that buying social peace, at any price, is better that the alternative, the alternative for which, I believe, Greece just voted: fascism.

I suspect that Greece is in for a few months of political turmoil, a debt default, an economic collapse, riots in the streets, a military coup and a fascist dictatorship. My guess is that none of Portugal, Spain, Italy or France are immune to the same fate. I will not be surprised if they, all four, follow Greece into fascist dictatorships, in the order in which I listed them.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline GAP

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #46 on: May 06, 2012, 18:38:49 »
Well, one of the items/promises of the new French president is that he will create 60,000 new government jobs by taxing the rich.....good luck on that....interesting times.
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #47 on: May 06, 2012, 19:35:34 »
There was an interesting little snippert on BBC World Service in the last couple of days ~ about rapidly increasing house prices in some previously low value London neighbourhoods. Why the sudden surge in demand? French buyers paying premium prices for UK property ... the French rich and super rich already have their money safely tucked away in Switzerland and the Caribbean, now the upper middle class are bailing out.

It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #48 on: May 06, 2012, 20:18:50 »

A few days ago former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder wrote a newspaper article (International Herald Tribune? Straits Times? South China Morning Post? - sorry I cannot remember) in which he begged Chancellor Merkel to back away from austerity and to give the French, especially, but also the Italians and Spanish what they really want: a free ride.

This is probably the article, in the International Herald Tribune, by Gerhard Schröder that you refer to. Re-produced under the usual caveats of the Copyright Act.

Quote
Op-Ed Contributor

Austerity Is Strangling Europe

By GERHARD SCHRÖDER

Published: May 3, 2012

BERLIN — The emergence of a united Europe is a process that has been going on for decades, characterized by progress but also by setbacks. There have been crises again and again in the history of European unification. Europe has always found an answer to these crises and come out stronger. It will be the same this time if the political actors face up to the challenges and muster the political will to overcome them.

Since the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, the number of participating states has increased from 6 to 27. The European institutions and bodies of regulations have been steadily enlarged in parallel. For politicians in the nation states, but also on the European level, this complexity signifies a great challenge. The decision-making processes, the distribution of powers between the European Union and the nation states, and the interaction of the institutions must be simplified and regulated more clearly. Only then will it be possible to continue the integration process needed and make the European Union more capable of action.

This capability, and the ability to react more quickly to the development of financial markets, requires a European policy. The current crisis has plainly shown this. The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, rightly speaks of a crisis of confidence, because people doubt the ability of democracy to solve urgent problems. The Union must overcome this crisis of confidence.

In the past months it has become clear that there are different speeds in the European Union. The gulf between countries that are able and willing to integrate more quickly, and countries that are applying the brakes has become wider. This development is not at all unusual: We have gone through many phases with different speeds.

In my time in office, Belgium, Germany, France and Luxembourg initiated a debate about security policy in Europe at the “Chocolate Summit” in 2003. Today we again need a solid core of states to push the integration process forward. More Europe, not less Europe: that must now be the goal. And the political leadership in the nation states has the responsibility to promote the European idea aggressively to the public.

This is true, for example, for growth initiatives, structural reforms and proposals to strengthen European institutions in relation to nation states. And above all it’s about enacting European decisions more democratically. At the moment the role of parliaments is decreasing, which could bring an erosion of democracy. We must resist this.

There are three areas in which European policy must be rerouted. These are the goals of the Nicolas Berggruen Institute’s Council on the Future of Europe, of which I am a founding member:

First, the direction of European economic and financial policy must change, away from pure austerity toward growth. Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Spain have made substantial progress in stabilizing their finances. But the economic and political situation in these countries shows that austerity alone is not the way to resolve the crisis. On the contrary, there is a danger of half-strangling national economies with a strict policy of austerity.

This policy conceals dangers. It delegitimizes democratic politics in the nation states that find themselves faced with protests and the growth of extremist parties. But this policy is also economically wrong for the whole Union, because developments in these states affect other export economies. Germany sells more than 60 percent of its exports within the Union. We would therefore be well advised to cushion harsh austerity measures with programs for growth. For instance, revenue from a tax on financial transactions, which I support, could be used for this.

Second, we need a program of European structural reform. The international competitiveness of E.U. states must be strengthened further because emerging countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China are catching up, but also because the disparities within the Union are too large. Bold structural reform will spur growth and create new jobs. At least, that has been our experience in Germany. With Agenda 2010 we in Germany pushed through reforms in the welfare system. Germany has changed within a few years from the “sick man of Europe” to “Europe’s engine.”

This has been helped by Germany’s unusual economic structure, which is marked by strong industry and many Mittelstand businesses. Other economies, such as France, Italy and Spain, need to follow suit with similar reforms.

And third, I believe Europe must become more politically integrated to overcome the financial crisis for the long term. The current situation makes it clear that you cannot have a common currency area without a common financial, economic and social policy. So we must work to bring about real political union in Europe with further transfer of power from the nation states.

To this end the European institutions must be reformed in the following ways:

•The European Commission must be further developed into a government elected by the European Parliament.
•The European Council must give up powers and should be transformed into an upper chamber with similar functions to the Bundesrat in Germany.
•The European Parliament must have increased powers and in future it should be elected via pan-European party lists with top candidates for the post of president of the commission.

A European Convention is part of a process of renewal that leads to Europe-wide discussions. In my time in office Germany initiated the convention to develop a European Charter of Fundamental Rights and a Constitution for Europe. The debates were about democratization, accessibility and clarification of responsibilities: the delimitation of powers between the Union and member states. Unfortunately the Constitution for Europe came to nothing, but many of its elements are present in the Treaty of Lisbon. It is now time for a core of states ready for integration to initiate a new convention for the future of Europe.

We need an integrated Europe more than ever. In global political and economic competition only a united Europe will stand a chance, because a nation state alone, even a strong Germany, is too weak. We can survive between the centers of power — the United States and China — if we continue the path to integration. Then the European Union will remain a socially, economically, culturally and politically successful community that will be a model for other regions. Europeanization is a rational political response to globalization.

Gerhard Schröder was chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005.

 TMS/GLOBAL VIEWPOINT

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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Why Europe Keeps Failing........
« Reply #49 on: May 06, 2012, 20:52:44 »
Yes, that's it; thanks for finding it RAFG.

You will not be surprised to learn that I do not agree with Schröder's prescriptions ... Merkel was hoping to spend quite a bit of good, hard earned German money to buy time for a miracle; Schröder is proposing to spend even more German and Dutch and Finnish and ... money to buy even more time for an even bigger miracle.

I regret to inform Germany that there ain't no tooth fairy, nor can Germany buy responsibility for irresponsible, illiberal political partners. Europe must, yet again, shatter - perhaps, just this once, without another horrible, bloody European Civil War into which Britain, America, Canada, Australia et al will be dragged.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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