Thursday, April 11, 2013

The euro and democracy: divorce in progress

Robert Treichler addresses the anti-democracy methods that the Troika (EU, ECB, IMF) have been using to impose their preferred neoliberal solutions to the euro crisis in Demokratie in Europa: Schnauze, Volk! for the Austrian newsmagazine Profil 11.4.2013.

It's good to see this being addressed in some of the more liberal (in the pro-democracy sense!) publications. He cites a 06.09.2012 article from the liberal German Die Zeit (Ludwig Greven, Draghis Autonomie ist undemokratisch) that critices ECB head Mario Draghi for huddling with German Chancellor Angela "Frau Fritz" Merkel and other bigwigs to make decisions that are then imposed on other countries under the cover of democracy.

But even the pretense is now pretty thin, when we look at the actual record in countries like Cyprus, Greece and Italy. Treichler charges, with reason, that the Troika's dealings with Cyprus were "in the highest degree undemocratic." And he quotes European Parliament President Martin Schulz as saying of the Cyprus dealings, "Die Verhandlungen waren nicht transparent, wurden nicht gut kommuniziert, und ihnen fehlte demokratische Kontrolle" ("The negotiations were not transparent, were not well communicated and they lacked democratic controls"). Yep!

And Treichler writes:

Hinter all diesen Tendenzen steckt kein Masterplan von finsteren Anti-Demokraten. Vielmehr setzt sich schleichend die Überzeugung durch, Volk, Volksvertreter und damit die Demokratie an sich seien in Krisenfällen überfordert. Das widerspricht der Überzeugung, wonach gerade in Ausnahmesituationen die Demokratie Stabilität garantiert.

[Behind all these [atni-democratic] tendencies there are no shadowy anti-democrats hiding. {He's being optimistic there!} It's much more that the conviction is insinuating itself that the people, the people's representatives and therefore democracy as such are overwhelmed in crisis situations. That contradicts the conviction according to which that it's precisely in emergency situations that democracy guarantees stability.]

Treichler also points out that the direct threats the Troika recently made to Cyprus' government that if they didn't knuckle under to the Troika's demands they would be kicked out of the eurozone were in themselves precedent-setting. Previously the Troika hadn't officially admitted that a country could leave the eurozone or that the other countries could kick them out.

Meanwhile, also from Die Zeit, things could be going better for the democratic system even in France ( Gero von Randow, Survive la France! 11.04.2013 ) Von Randow even suggests that France could be facing a social and government crisis on the magnitude of 1958, when the Algerian crisis brought Charles de Gaulle back to power as President with dictatorial-style authority. The still-existing Fifth Republic began the following year, and in 1961 had to fend off a serious rebellion within the armed forces over De Gaulle's peace negotiations to end the Algerian War.

He seems to be self-consciously exaggerating. But Socialist President François Hollande's popularity has plummeted since his election not even a full year ago because of his embrace of austerity policies at home and his rolling over for Frau Fritz' in EU politics.

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