Monday, December 31, 2012

Neoliberalism, center-left version: François Hollande and the neoliberal dogma that's destroying the EU

Philippe Marlière looked at the current French President's real position on European economic policy in Has François Hollande gone from being Mr Normal to Mr Neoliberal? Guardian 08/19/2012. The short answer to the headline's questions is, yes.

Hollande's campaign criticisms of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's austerity policies that she's forcing especially on "periphery" countries in the eurozone like Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain did last much longer than his successful electoral campaign:

In the runup to the election, Hollande had promised to renegotiate the EU fiscal compact. This endeavour was supported by a large majority of voters. On 29 June, after one of those dramatically choreographed EU summits, a glowing Hollande appeared before cameras and declared: "Europe has changed in the right direction."

Yet the French president spectacularly failed to keep his word. Angela Merkel's and Sarkozy's treaty has prevailed unchanged. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Left Front presidential candidate, denounced it as a "knockabout farce". All Hollande could claim was a derisory "growth pact" worth 1% of the EU's GDP (€130bn). More embarrassing was the revelation that the growth package entailed deploying up to €55bn in unspent EU structural funds.

The Socialist president has not opposed the EU-inspired austerity programmes that are strangling the economies of Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Worse, he has implicitly endorsed them by sending an unprecedented, thinly veiled warning to Greek voters days before the dramatic rerun of the general elections. He hinted that if Greeks insisted on casting their votes in favour of Syriza, a leftwing "anti-austerity" coalition, it could cost them Greece's participation in the eurozone. [my emphasis]
The failure of the social-democratic parties in Europe to offer even meaningful short-term, pragmatic alternatives to the neoliberal consensus is one of the most prominent and disturbing features of the euro crisis.

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