The increase in the vote of the extreme right, the fall of the Dutch government, the bonds speculation against Spain, the problems of adjustment of the Monti government, the continuous disintegration of the Portuguese, Spanish and Greek societies – all demonstrate that change in the economic policy of the EU is necessary. Economic adjustments and structural changes cannot happen overnight as Merkel wishes. A vote for Hollande may bring change within the EU, something which will be much welcomed.
It is interesting that the message of the first round of the French Presidential elections was not heard by the EU establishment elites who continue to claim that there will be no change to the economic policy conducted so far. For instance, Commission President Barroso stated that the current unrest is all the fault of the ‘naughty’ states that did not manage to balance their accounts. This is a short-sighted view that fails to take into account various external global challenges (e.g., speculation) and EU weaknesses (e.g. the lack of a framework of economic governance, the limited role of the ECB, the soft EU approach to statistics) which brought many of the EU states to their knees.
For these elites, there is no question of expressing any form of EU self-criticism. In its accustomed way, the EU expressed its concern about the rise of the populist vote. Nevertheless, the condemnation of extremism by EU institutions fails to take into account that the EU is greatly responsible for the outcome of the French elections, the fall of the Dutch government and the unrest in South Europe. Never before was the rift between the EU bureaucrats and the people so wide, as EU institutions act in a ‘Marie Antoinette’ manner. To those that have no bread the official answer seems to be: ‘Let them eat cake’.
Today, very few will argue that market forces are unnecessary. Nevertheless, it is the question of how far market forces should go that needs to concern us. The current situation in Europe is an outcome of rapid market liberalisation, deregulation and social dumping. Do we really want to continue this way? If 1999 was the Waterloo of Communism, 2012 may well be that of liberalism. Policy reconsideration should not only be an imperative of the Left, but also a priority for all democratic political forces that do not wish to see a gradual takeover by the populist forces of the Extreme Right.
It is now time for all European countries to reconsider all the punitive social cuts that they have chosen to implement. All over Europe, voices of dissent are beginning to emerge. It is also time for all the opposition forces of Germany to raise their voices. It is shameful for Germany to continue a dead-end policy that only fits within the logic of the Bild tabloid. It is a pity for Germany, which is a country that has to offer so much to European integration, to be merely confined to an internal short-sighted debate. As even wealthy countries like the Netherlands start to crumble, cracks will gradually be noticed in Berlin.
Coming back to the French Presidential elections, a part of the influential Anglosaxonic media present Hollande’s modest blend of social democracy as a menace to the world economy. This is an over-exaggeration.
The French electorate will have two choices in the ballot box. As Sarkozy’s policies have failed to shape up the French economy, the French have the legitimate right to try something different.
It is also about time the Free Market Talibans understood that their policies do not fit the situation. On 6th May the French, on behalf of all Europeans, will have the possibility to punish Merkel and her political followers: un vote pour Hollande, une gifle pour Merkel.