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The European economy now lies under a shadow - the severe situation of unemployment, stagnation and cutbacks in the welfare state, bringing hardship to millions of Europeans. The magnitudes are impressive. If the 26 million unemployed people in the EU declared their independence, they would be the sixth-largest state in terms of population.
To illustrate this, what country would be better than Spain? There are now more unemployed Spaniards than there are people in Denmark (5.5 million), not to mention less populous states such as Slovakia, Finland and several others. If the 6.2 million unemployed Spaniards decided to secede from Spain and set up their own state, there would be no less than 11 states dwarfed by this hypothetical "Republic of the Dole". Of course, while all these jobless Spaniards lack a political voice of their own, those 11 states of the EU each have a commissioner
The expression bad blood denotes the unpleasant turn taken in a relationship when one party is perceived to be hurting the other. The result is animosity, and an inability to communicate and interact freely. Think of Angela Merkel characterized as a Nazi in Athens, or branded with swastikas in Lisbon. Or think of the cover of Der Spiegel, featuring a quaint Southern European peasant on a donkey loaded with euros, under the EU umbrella, and the legend “The lie of poverty: how the crisis countries hide their wealth.”
And never forget that, though the center left has assumed power in Italy, some 55 percent of Italians voted for Beppe Grillo or Silvio Berlusconi, whose electoral speeches were furiously anti-German. And the French Socialist Party’s internal memo complaining of how Germany’s “selfish intransigence” is dragging Europe down: we are talking not just about placards in street
Perplexity. That's what’s conveyed by the clash over austerity going on between the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The debate is as extremely technical as it is profoundly political. In essence, it’s about how much national GDP falls with every point of tax cut. While it may seem rather complex, it’s actually rather simple: depending on the extent of the so-termed "fiscal multiplier", tax cuts can pump an economy back to life – or deflate it.
National and international blogs where economists debate these matters are abuzz with analyses and counter-analyses that attack and defend the austerity policies pursued by the EU. The problem is not just that the discussion about the fiscal multipliers has reached levels of complexity that delight only academics. The issue is that,
Spain’s foreign policy is in a critical state. Due to the crisis, true; but also due to decisions made in recent years. We need only take a close look at the three pillars that sustain the exterior action of any country: diplomacy, defence and development. As for diplomacy there are a number of elements that have combined to create the present situation. Most obvious of these is the crisis, which has had a serious impact on Spain’s capacity for international action. Spain, which always had to jockey for elbow room between the big states of the EU, now has a hard time not just being influential but merely being heard in Europe, not to mention outside it.
The crisis has also relegated the Foreign Ministry to a back seat in favor of Economy and Finance, whose decisions are now the ones that count internationally. This tendency, which is general in Europe, means that foreign ministers,
Italy has spoken. And what has it said? The post-electoral urge is always the same: give some meaning to these millions of voices, speaking through the electoral filter. Majority-based electoral systems, especially those with two rounds, force you to vote for second or third options, so that your real interests are not rightly represented. They also tend to displace minorities from the parliament, and award tempting clear majorities to the winners, who are wont to use them in contempt of parliament, which is the real seat of democratic life. Yet the alternative, proportional electoral systems, apparently fairer in representation of the citizens, have the disadvantage of blocking a central element of democracy: the capacity to oust a bad government and replace it with another. Worse, in so far as they give rise to governments of coalition between various forces, they have the
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