Europe’s Governments Are Running Out of Options
For the governments of Europe in the midst of the EU’s worst-ever crisis, it is getting increasingly difficult to reconcile internationally ordained austerity packages with popular acquiescence in spending cuts, job losses and slashed budgets.
Whether using the euro or not, governments from the Baltic to the Balkans are struggling to stay in office while implementing the savage savings programmes dictated by technocrats from Brussels, Washington and Frankfurt.
The Romanian government’s fall on Monday after weeks of civil unrest in Bucharest is but the latest example. In Greece, another uneasy coalition may be falling apart as it balks at meeting the severe terms of the troika of the European commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) needed to secure a second €130bn (£108bn) bailout in time to redeem a large tranche of its debt next month.
Athens will again be seething with rage on Tuesday as two of the biggest unions stage a 24-hour general strike. Trapped between the demands of their constituency and the dictates of international creditors, governments and political leaders all across Europe are running out of options.
The problem has been made worse by the popular perception in several countries that the political class is akin to a mafia: politicians in cahoots with bankers, property developers and businessmen fleecing the country to the point of bankruptcy then leaving the public to pick up the pieces; wage cuts, job losses, higher taxes, health, education and retirement services decimated, all of it policed by faceless technocrats flying in from Brussels and Washington.
Such has been the perception of the Boc government in Romania, ditto in Greece and Ireland.