The European Autumn

Translation of a piece by Isaac Rosa, whose new book La mano invisible (The Invisible Hand) I have been about to begin reading for the last few months. His survey of countries under the watchful eye of the IMF and the ECB excludes Ireland, but it too, along with its fairytales of democratic revolutions enacted at the ballot box, is a small part of the same story of anti-popular upheaval.

The European autumn.

After the Arab Spring, which has pulled down several ruling heads in North Africa, Europe is living through its own autumn, which is also costing various people their seats. No, I know that the dictatorial governments of the Maghreb have nothing to do with European democracies. But above all they differ in the way in which people leave power on one side or the other of the Mediterranean: whilst over there they have succumbed to popular revolutions, here it is the crisis and the economic powers that are collecting political cadavers.

Papandreou in Greece has just fallen, after the referendum havoc, following in the steps of Sócrates in Portugal, who stepped down in March after resigning himself to the European bailout, and who later lost the elections. The next in the deck could be Berlusconi, corralled in the Parliament whilst the IMF visits Italy to oversee compliance with the adjustment. What neither corruption nor velines nor the many eccentricities of the millionaire prime minister could not do, the crisis shall.

After Portugal, Greece and Italy, it will be the turn of Zapatero-Rubalcaba at the polls, the final stop of a long via crucis; and in spring it may also be Sarkozy’s turn in the presidential elections. Nor does Merkel sit very securely in her seat, after losing six regional elections in nearly a year.

Berlusconi

This is the European autumn, which goes about devouring its rulers. But by contrast with the Arab Spring, here only heads roll but nothing changes: with or without them economic policy will remain the same, dictated by the IMF and the ECB, with even greater turns of the screw on the citizens. In fact, the alternative to the fallen governments has led to a turn to the right (Portugal and soon Spain), and to the formation of governments of either national unity or a technocratic profile, as in Greece, where the main candidate is the ex-governor of the Central Bank, and ex-vicepresident of the ECB, and as will probably be the case in Italy if Berlusconi gives way.

No-one is crying for the fallen rulers, but there isn’t much partying either.

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