Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Marea Ciudadana ("tide of citizens") in Spain protests Rajoy's version of Angienomics

The protest movement Marea Ciudadana ("tide of citizens") has brought large crowds to the streets all across Spain on the 32nd anniversary of an attempted coup against the then-new democratic government to protest against "the financial coup d'tat" or the "coup of the markets."Notable protests took place in Madrid, A Coruña (in Galicia) Ávila, Barcelona, San Sebastián, Santander, Zaragoza and other locations. (Luis Giménez
San Miguel, Todas las mareas unidas marchan contra los recortes sociales Público 23.02.2013)

Spain's 'tide of citizens' takes to the streets Euronews 02/23/2013:

Marea Ciudadana is a coalition of various labor groups, the indignados of the M-15 anti-austerity protests of recent years, and left-wing parties and sects.

The protest Saturday was directed against the continuing austerity politics of conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Although they are more severe than those of the previous Socialist (PSOE) government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, it was Zapatero's government that first began knuckling under to the demands of German Chancellor Angela "Frau Fritz" Merkel for brutal austerity policies in the face of attacks by bond speculators in the wake of the bursting of the Spanish housing bubble.

Zapatero's government was a model for the role of "left" parties in neoliberalism: give the markets free play, adhere to basically conservative economic policies, and (in the eurozone) to conform to the dictates of the Troika (EU Commission, IMF, ECB), which in turn are largely driven at present by the nationalistic economic policies of Germany under Frau Fritz' leadership. Zapatero pursuing socially liberal policies, such as legalizing gay marriage and appointing the first female Defense Minister. And he defied the Cheney-Bush Administration upon taking office in 2004 by pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq (though Spain continued to fight in Afghanistan). But defy Angie and the banksters over economic policy? No way.

Rajoy is no doubt more enthusiastic in implementing austerity policies than Zapatero was. They are formally not operating under the Troika's direction as Greece, Ireland and Portugal have been. But the governments of both Spain and Italy are de facto acting as administrators for the Troika and Frau Fritz' crippling austerity policies that are imposing so much needless suffering in their countries.

The current SPOE leader, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, is griping about Rajoy's austerity policies, sensibly hoping to get some political benefit from doing so. (Rubalcaba: Rajoy tiene que rectificar su política económica para evitar que en 2013 haya más desempleo y sufrimiento tal y como advierte la UE SPOE website 23.02.2013) But the SPOE had their chance while they were in office to resist Germany's austerity demands, and they folded without a fight. The SPOE's sister social-democratic party in France under François Hollande took power last year promising to resist Frau Fritz' demands, and could hardly take office before they were rushing to capitulate and to impose a neoliberal austerity program in France. Greece's Social Democratic party PASOK will be lucky to survive as a functioning political party at all.

Meanwhile, Italy has parliamentary election on Sunday and Monday, which are likely to have big implications for the eurozone. The current Prime Minister Mario Monti is a technocrat essentially installed at Germany's demand, barely within the confines of legality, to do the bidding of Big Capital as interpreted by the Troika. Which meant, of course, Angienomics, i.e., austerity, austerity, austerity. The last polls prior to the election didn't indicate that his performance was terribly popular, as Catherine Hornby reports for Reuters in Italy urges high turnout in key election for euro zone 02/23/2013:

Monti, an economics professor and darling of the markets, is believed to be fading after a lackluster campaign, and some experts have said he may fall below the 8-percent threshold to win Senate seats in some regions.

Whatever government emerges from the vote will have the task of pulling Italy out of its longest recession for 20 years and reviving an economy that has been stagnant for two decades.

The main danger for Italy and the euro zone is that the election produces a weak government incapable of taking firm action, which is likely to rattle investors and could ignite a new debt crisis.

Monti replaced [Silvio] Berlusconi in November 2011 after the media billionaire brought the euro zone's third-largest economy close to a Greek-style financial meltdown while he was embroiled in a series of scandals.

The former European Commissioner launched a tough program of spending cuts, tax hikes and pension reform which helped to sharply reduce Italy's borrowing costs and restore the country's credibility abroad.

But economic austerity has fuelled [sic] anger among Italians grappling with rising unemployment and shrinking disposable incomes, encouraging many to turn to [anti-EU protest candidate Beppe] Grillo, who has tapped into a national mood of disenchantment. [my emphasis]
In AusteritySpeak, "a weak government incapable of taking firm action" means one that is not willing to punish its own voting base and their own country by following the dictates of Frau Fritz for austerity policies that continue to shrink their economies and make the public debt ratios worse.

Wolfgang Münchau has been highly critical of the austerity policies of Angienomics and of Germany's generally irresponsible approach to the euro crisis. But in Italien: Schicksalswahl für den Euro Spiegel Online 20.02.2013, he agrees that Italy's election is likely to be a decisive one for the future of the euro and therfore the EU, and that a weak governmental coalition is probably the worst outcome. Or, more precisely, that a weak governmental coalition would lead to the chain of events that constitute the worst outcome from the point of view of preserving the euro and the EU: "Der wäre politische Instabilität, eine andauernde Wirtschaftskrise, verbunden mit Zweifeln an Italiens Willen und Fähigkeit, im Euro-Raum zu bleiben." ("That would be political instability, a continuing economic crisis, combined with doubts on Italy's will and ability to stay in the eurozone.")

But, he concludes, "Es ist laut Prognosen der Wahlausgang, der am wahrscheinlichsten ist." ("It is, according to the prognoses for the election outcome, the one that is the most likely.")

Heckuva job managing the euro crisis, Frau Fritz!

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