vote

Earlier this week, Debating Europe put several of your comments to Olli Rehn, the EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro. One of those comments came from a reader in France, Rémi, who argued that: “The main problem of the euro is the strong dependence on financial markets.”

On the one hand, it’s true that most (if not all) European economies are extremely vulnerable to the whims of the financial markets right now. On the other hand, this fact didn’t seem to trouble Italian voters when they turned out in massive numbers to support Beppe Grillo’s anti-austerity Five-Star Movement in elections last month. Does it matter that Italy is stuck in political gridlock precisely as the eurozone crisis threatens to reignite? Should voters have maybe considered more carefully the impact of their vote on Italy’s borrowing rates? Or does this sort of calculation completely undermine democracy?

We spoke to Niccolò Rinaldi, an Italian MEP and Vice-President of the liberal ALDE Group in the European Parliament, about the situation in Italy and about the impact of the eurozone crisis on democracy in Europe. We started with a comment sent in from Effie, who argued that the crisis was forcing an end to the traditional ‘centre-left’ versus ‘centre-right’ division in politics: “The Italian elections, as well as the Greek elections, show that the cooperation of the right and left has become a necessity for further progress…

rinaldi-speaks

Well, I don’t agree with Effie. I think that the ‘grand coalition’ we have seen over the last year between left and right in Italy [under the Monti government], first, did not really enable the country to adopt the required reforms. Secondly, it created quite a gap between the establishment on one side and citizens on the other.

Citizens need to make a choice between a clear progressive centre-left agenda and, on the other hand, a right-wing – possibly also reformist – agenda. The mixture of the two will only create further confusion…

On that note, we had a comment sent in from Eusebio, who predicted that the left and right will anyway be unable to form a coalition, and that Italy will be forced to hold another election in the coming weeks.

Well, I agree that it’s quite likely we will need to have fresh elections; not really in a few weeks, but maybe in a year’s time. First, though, Italy will need to pass a new electoral law, because the current instability is a consequence of the existing, over-complicated law which has one system for the lower chamber and another for the upper chamber. There might be enough room for manoeuvre to find a new electoral law before fresh elections are held.

Italy will probably also need to pass a number of laws supported by both the left and the right to try to stabilise the markets, and these will include passing a new budget. But I cannot really see a long-term (or even a medium-term) agreement between the left and right. This means we will need fresh elections and that will, of course, imply further turmoil in the market.

The issue of the markets and their impact on democracy is an important one, and we have to be very careful here. We have already experienced these issues in 2011, and we cannot play with democracy with threats from the markets. Grand coalitions between left and right may seem tempting, but the result is still instability. If we manage to put in place a good electoral law, then the result will be much more preferable for Europe and for the markets: to have a full, legitimate majority, either of the left or the right.

To get another perspective, we also spoke to Pierre Wunsch, Director of the National Bank of Belgium. We asked him whether voters should care what the markets think, or whether this kind of logic has a negative impact on democracy:

wunsch-speaks

Let me put it this way: national politics are here to stay, and we need to get used to the idea that electoral results may not be what we would like to see from Brussels. We may like what Mario Monti did a lot, but Mario Monti received only 10% of the vote, and we have to live with the constraints coming from national democracies.

Sometimes we are faced with developments that we would not have preferred, but there is no point in complaining. Today it is Italy, tomorrow it might be another country. People know what they feel, and they need to have a way to express their frustrations. Sometimes we may feel they express it in a way that is not going to help, but we need to hear that.

Finally, we asked the same question to Thierry Philipponnat, Secretary General of Finance Watch, an NGO set up in 2011 as a “counterweight to the private interest lobbying of the financial industry.

philipponnat-speaks

I think democracy and politics should not be subordinated to financial markets. What voters should take into account is the credibility of the politicians they are voting for. Are they voting for political forces that have a proper plan that fits their vision of the way society should be organised?

What I find very worrying – and this may be the case in Italy – is a growing trend of voters rejecting the usual political forces. This is happening because many political forces do not tackle the important things that citizens care about, and voters realise this and are angry.

What do YOU think? Should voters care what markets think? Or does this sort of calculation completely undermine democracy? And what has been the impact of the eurozone crisis on democracy in Europe? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Eric Skiff


62 comments Post a commentcomment


  1. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Even if people do care what the markets think, will the markets care what the people think, or need? Seriously! In theory people should care… Because the markets are the new rulers of our nations and their decisions affect us directly… But since the markets don’t give a penny of what we think of them and their actions, they are not accountable to us or our wishes and whatever we think of them they still are going to go ahead and do what they think best for profit, then what is the point for the people to express their opinion and get involved?

    Perhaps we need more democratic and accountable governments in Europe, both on national and European level… This crisis has proven that Europe is anything but democratic and shows what is to come…..: an absolute oligarchy and aristocracy, a far cry from the democracy that we in Europe and the West are so proud of… The next time I will hear a European leader boasting about Democracy as a European value, I will throw an egg at his face! We should not be teaching others how to imitate us anymore.. We should better look at our own faults and democratic deficit..

  2. avatar
    Miguel Cabrita

    Markets should consider democracy policy principles, if they do not then those principles should be coercivly imposed on them like, and in the place of the market rules wich are brutally being imposed on european peripheral countries.

  3. avatar
    Steve Patriarca

    The main effect is clearly to open the gap between the voters and the EU even moreso. It has also created a huge chasm between Germany and the rest of Europe. Even Austrians now ask if we can trust the Germans! (our banks also have exposure to bad debts in Eastern Europe) it has also I think illustrated the fact that Germany has no real understanidng of foreign affairs or international geo-politics. If Cyprus bases ultimately are moved from NATO to Russia, then the entire geopolitics of the Middle East will change. The new Financial Cold War which Germany has initiated wil also have huge repercussions..

  4. avatar
    Børge Rahbech Jensen

    I think the voters should care about whatever we like to care about. That is pretty much what democracy is all about. We might also consider who the financial markets are, including how voters are involved.

  5. avatar
    Nikolaos Sotirelis

    Can anyone explain to us what the hell are these financial markets? Are they something impersonal? Are they above rules, laws and ethics? Are they above humanity?Where the hell are they leading us without our permission? Who gave them the authority? Who the fuck are they?

  6. avatar
    Ricardo Lemos

    Governments might take in account what the markets think, when conceiving and developing political agendas, and submit them to the souvereign people. However, the citizen must not care about the markets and the investors confidence. The markets do not care about countries and people’s wellbeing, hence the citizens are not requirable to care about their interests.

    Besides, more regulation is needed. And more consideration, in the case of leading countries, such as Germany, for the coutries that help them once, and more respect and humblenesse in the name of their own hard history.

    Wheter we chosse federalism, with respect by the specificities of each country, as in larger Nations, as US, and with their own laws and rules, headed by a minimalistic legal europena heading, whether we choose to dismantle the Union and let each country have their path.

  7. avatar
    Dionysis Kontarinis

    Questions 1 and 3 are linked, whereas question 2 is stated in a dubious way… Of course voters should consider everything carefully, but this is not the main point here. What is important, is to understand that there is no real democracy when people are afraid and threatened. The word “kratos” means power in Greek. People who are submitted to “unknown financial markets” have no power, therefore no democracy.

  8. avatar
    Evagelia Vagia

    Ολα ξεκινουν και καταληγουν απο τους πολιτες του καθε κρατους!
    Η Δημοκρατια, εινα φροντιδα του πολιτη και μονο του πολιτη.

    Οι κακες επιλογες πολιτικων, οι κακες εκτιμησεις των καταστασεων, οι “ελαστικες” συνειδησεις των πολιτων, ειναι τα αιτια της συμφορας μας.
    Εχει μεγαλη σημασια,ποσο πολιτικοποιημενοι ειναι, ποσο ενημερωμενοι ειναι με τις εξελιξεις των γεγονοτων, ποσο συμμετεχουν!!!

    Καμμια σημασια, δεν ειχαν θα οι αγορες, ή Ευρωπαικη Ενωση, κυριως στην Ελλαδα, αν εμεις δεν ειχαμε αδρανησει ως πολιτες!

    Οι πολιτικοι φροντιζουν πρωτιστως την επανεκλογη τους, οπως οι “αγορες” την μακροημερευση τους, τα κερδη τους και την περαιτερω αναπτυξη τους.
    Αυτο ομως δεν σημαινει, οτι εξυπηρετουνται και τα συμφεροντα των πολιτων.

    Οι πολιτες ειναι αυτοι που “ανεβαζουν” και “κατεβαζουν” Κυβερνησεις, οι πολιτες ειναι αυτοι που εξασφαλιζουν κερδη στις αγορες, με την εργασια τους. Πως ειναι δυνατον, λοιπον οταν λειπει πρωτη συνισταμενη, οι πολιτες δηλαδη, οι αλλες δυο συνισταμενες, να “φροντιζουν” για τα συμφεροντα του πολιτη?

    Στις ημερες μας, η εννοια “πολιτης” εχει εξαφανιστει κατω απο τις πιεσεις που ασκηθηκαν επι σειρα ετων, στον τροπο σκεψης του, στην αλλοιωση των ηθων και των εθιμων του, στην καθημερινοτητα του, με αποτελεσμα, οι “αλλοι” να σκεφτονται, οι”αλλοι” να ενεργουν, οι “αλλοι” να αποφασιζουν και εκεινος απλα να “σερνεται”, απλα να εφαρμοζει, απλα να ακολουθει, χωρις καμμια σκεψη!

    Αυτο πρεπει να αλλαξουμε στην Ελλαδα. Να αναλαβουμε παλι εμεις την “εξουσια” που αφελως παραχωρησαμε σε ανθρωπους, χαμηλωτερου επιπεδου απο των εκαστοτε περιστασεων.

    Αυτη ειναι η γνωμη μου. Αυτη ειναι η Δημοκρατια. Οι πολιτες αποφασιζουν και οι πολιτκοι πραττουν.

    Ελπιζω οτι αυτο, καποια στιγμη θα γινει κατανοητο σε ολους, και τοτε θα δουμε την δυναμη των “αγορων”!!!!

  9. avatar
    catherine benning

    The markets are the cause of this world financial crisis. What possible reason would the ordinary European people want these criminals anywhere near the policy makers of this union?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fes_fwJSX0I

    And Iceland and how they are moving forward.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH0_JQW–gc

    And why can’t we follow their recovery.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDexDNn6vSM

    Cyprus is a forerunner. Get prepared for an entirely new world order.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcGh1Dex4Yo

  10. avatar
    Vasile Alexandru Meleșteu

    The EU should have been more careful with adding new countrys in the Union becouse some of them had lower development increse than others.Europe should have more control and influence on the economies.

  11. avatar
    Yanni Arvanitis

    Voting for what purpose? Voting nowadays is like getting in a taxi, telling the taxi driver where you want to go and then ending up wherever the taxi driver fancies and, what’s more important, you have to pay the fare no matter what! Of course, you can get into another taxi AFTER you paid your fare and ended up somewhere you did not want to go in the first place. You never know, the next taxi driver might even take you where YOU want to go …

  12. avatar
    Joshua Jackson Pj Victor

    The impact on financial market? It’snt what most important a voter have to see when voting! I agree with this idea that asks if you want us sell our votes…

  13. avatar
    Γρηγοράκης Σ.

    oh you GermanEUists
    Start asking Voters from Turkey..

    You seem to have a very good cooperation with their govenrmen in threatening greece and cyprus with war.

  14. avatar
    Debating Europe

    Hi Alexandar! Yes, sorry – we’re having some technical problems which we’re working to resolve. We should be back up soon!

  15. avatar
    Nikolaos Sotirelis

    One strange thing! For some days now we’ve being bombed in TV, by a new product, from several insurance companies. “Deposit insurance”. That means that finally we’ll pay interest for our deposits!!! SNEAKY!

  16. avatar
    Ruth Obadia

    21st century, one?s personal life depends on one?s attitude toward others. Therefore, we must educate people into being sensitive toward others, caring, and responsible in their approach to the world. In the 21st century, the world needs more than an economic or political solution to its problems. First and foremost, it needs an educational solution.
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=469679156439416&set=a.380461428694523.86380.348301561910510&type=1&theater

  17. avatar
    Yorgo Limantzakis

    Governments should care about what citizens think of (not necessarily voters) and markets should totally be out of the equation.. Though I am afraid the question itself is an indication of our desperate situation..

  18. avatar
    Nikolaos Sotirelis

    Absolutely Ruth! The only thing now we have to do, is to send the all Eurogroup and the European leaders to school again to educate them into being sensitive toward others, caring, and responsible in their approach to the world. That will certainly help the lifes of plenty people…

  19. avatar
    Ruth Obadia

    ?The real challenge today is to change our way of thinking?not just our systems, institutions or policies. We need the imagination to grasp the immense promise?and challenge?of the interconnected world we have created. …The future lies with more globalization, not less, more cooperation, more interaction between peoples and cultures, and even greater sharing of responsibilities and interests. It is unity in our global diversity that we need today.?

    – Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) 23
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=528689893850034&set=a.401378016581223.109814.397768230275535&type=1&theater

    • avatar
      Duncan

      Globalisation without ethical practices is what we currently have to live with. If in a globalised world everyone is given the opportunity to live as a minimum a modest lifestyle with some savings and the occasional holiday (be that abroad or not) hen great. However, we live in a world where not everyone can even find work. Those that do find work at the low end of the pay structure are struggling to pay basic bills. While all the money is hoarded at the top of the pay structure. When someone earns £16000 a year and is expected to be able to live off that, support a house, family etc. Then how can it ever be ethical for someone in the same company to be earning £80000 a week? Nobody works that much harder than someone else, nobody is that much more valuable to their company than anyone else. And more importantly, nobody needs that much more than anyone else. So in short, if you want to make people ok with corporations, globalisation and so on, make it fairer for everyone.

  20. avatar
    Ruth Obadia

    *Crossroads* places evolutionary context to today’s escalating social unrest, natural disasters, and economic failures. It illuminates the footsteps of an integrated worldview, penetrating its way through the power of social networks to the forefront of our personal and collective awareness.
    Scientists and thinkers featured in *Crossroads* include: Amit Goswami, Neale Donald Walsch, Elisabet Sahtouris, Bruce Lipton, Peter Joseph, Caroline A. Miller, Nicholas Christakis, James Fowler, Michael Laitman, Ervin Laszlo, Dean Radin, Dave Sherman, Annie Leonard, Jairon G. Cuesta, and John St. Augustine.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_715665&feature=iv&src_vid=pl-t7nKj2eY&v=5n1p9P5ee3c

  21. avatar
    Alessio Bertucci

    I agree with Thierry Philipponnat when he say that democracy and politics should not be subordinated to financial markets because, for me, credibility institutions are able to counteract all the speculative attacks. I’m italian and for me people voted against traditional political parties, because they don’t have answer to citizens’ needs, and against Europe, that it imposed recessive economic measures. What it happened with the election of Mario Monti was considered against democracy because he wasn’t elected by italian citizens (even if he did many good thing for italian economy). But for avoiding democratic deficit in each european countries, it must avoid democratic deficit in the European level. In this moment i think that in Europe there is a need of a new european political area where we could find: new strong european political parties; a debate in all member state about political and economics issues where citizens could get an euro-idea; and finally the election of the others european institutions as Commission and the President of European Council. European Union is a modern state, the “state of the future”, and it will have a great future, but it must avoid international organization elements as secret meetings and no election. European citizens want MORE INTEGRATION AND MORE TRANSPARENCY in the decisional processes. If the European Union will become a strong modern representative democracy, it will not be afraid of financial markets.

  22. avatar
    Ana Carvalho

    We can be mean, very good or exceptional, everything depends on the goals that we impose. the crisis in the eurozone is not naive result, is an intention of a political project of domination perverse for the construction of the German Empire.

  23. avatar
    Ross McWhir

    I’m more concerned about the number of people that believe if they put all of their savings in a high interest account, there is no risk involved. Under EU regulation the first 100,000 euros, I think it is, is guaranteed but after that losing it all if the bank defaults is a very real possibility. (for more arousing debate, check out Debate of the Day)

  24. avatar
    Eoin MacCárthaigh

    ?Democracy is the worst form of government except all the other forms that have been tried from time to time? Winston Churchill Speech, UK House of Commons (1947).
    Firstly the causes of the ?urozone crisis need to be examined and secondly how the ?urozone crisis has affected democracy in the European Union needs to be analysed. This crisis was caused by a big build-up of debts in Spain and Italy before 2008. The private sector and not governments i.e. companies and mortgage borrowers took out loans as interest rates were at historic low level in southern Europe countries when they joined the ?uro. This in turn encouraged a debt-fuelled boom. In Greece their national accounts were falsified for years and hence this country required a multi-billion bailout. Greece in turn directly affected Cyprus as due to historic links the Cypriots invested heavily in Greek banks. In Ireland cheap credit from Germany helped to fuel our Celtic Tiger and also contributed to our current recession.
    Have unelected Traders working for large investment banks on Wall Street, who speculate on the ?uro to make huge profits contributed to the ?urozone crisis? Although Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena is the world?s oldest bank, sentiment aside this did not prevent rogue traders from undertaking reckless derivatives trades against it, which led the Italian government to intervene with a guarantee of ?3.9bn.
    In a democracy i.e. ?rule by the demos? (the demos referring to the ?the people?) (Heywood, 2002: 68) public representative(s) i.e. politicians are usually elected by the people. How many EU voters casted a vote for the current EU Commission President from Portugal and his team of Commissioners? Unelected EU Officials have played a huge role in the bailouts of Greece (how ironic as the origins of democracy can be traced back to Ancient Greece), Ireland and Cyprus. Is this democracy European Union style? We need to acknowledge the role of the European Parliament has played in trying to solve the ?urozone crisis and also to reduce the EU?s democratic deficit. Despite the EPs best efforts there has been a notable decrease in voter turnout in every election to the European Parliament since 1979. Before the 2009 European Parliament election a Europe wide TNS poll conducted for La Fondation pour l’Innovation Politique found that 53% of EU citizens were ?not at all interested? or ?rather not interested? in the June elections, while only 46% of citizens claimed to be ?very interested? or ?rather interested?. This highlights the level of voter apathy and indifference towards the European Union?s only directly elected institution. Are Eurozone members Greece, Ireland and Cyprus governed by Brussels and the unelected officials that form the Troika, European Commission, the IMF,the European Central Bank? Does the European Parliament play any role in the Troika decision? We also need to acknowledge that markets determine the value of voters? pension funds for their retirement with risky derivatives trades and their influence on politicians, which is best seen in the United States. Investment banks on Wall Street have financed President Obama?s Presidential campaigns, yet it?s the ordinary citizens who elected him. Even in ancient Greece, often though of the cradle of democratic ideas, democracy has its critics. The current Eurozone crisis and its bailouts have reduced democracy in the Union. On YouTube some political commentators have compared the European Union to the Soviet Union. However the EU was founded on strong democratic principles and cannot be compared to this communist?s dictatorship.

  25. avatar
    Eoin McCarthy

    “Democracy is the worst form of government except all the other forms that have been tried from time to time” Winston Churchill Speech, UK House of Commons (1947).

    Firstly the causes of the €urozone crisis need to be examined and secondly how the €urozone crisis has affected democracy in the European Union needs to be analysed. This crisis was caused by a big build-up of debts in Spain and Italy before 2008. The private sector and not governments i.e. companies and mortgage borrowers took out loans as interest rates were at historic low level in southern Europe countries when they joined the €uro. This in turn encouraged a debt-fuelled boom. In Greece their national accounts were falsified for years and hence this country required a multi-billion bailout. Greece in turn directly affected Cyprus as due to historic links the Cypriots invested heavily in Greek banks. In Ireland cheap credit from Germany helped to fuel our Celtic Tiger and also contributed to our current recession.

    Have unelected Traders working for large investment banks on Wall Street, who speculate on the €uro to make huge profits contributed to the €urozone crisis? Although Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena is the world’s oldest bank, sentiment aside this did not prevent rogue traders from undertaking reckless derivatives trades against it, which led the Italian government to intervene with a guarantee of €3.9bn.

    In a democracy i.e. “rule by the demos” (the demos referring to the “the people”) (Heywood, 2002: 68) public representative(s) i.e. politicians are usually elected by the people. How many EU voters casted a vote for the current EU Commission President from Portugal and his team of Commissioners? Unelected EU Officials have played a huge role in the bailouts of Greece (how ironic as the origins of democracy can be traced back to Ancient Greece), Ireland and Cyprus. Is this democracy European Union style? We need to acknowledge the role of the European Parliament has played in trying to solve the €urozone crisis and also to reduce the EU’s democratic deficit. Despite the EPs best efforts there has been a notable decrease in voter turnout in every election to the European Parliament since 1979. Before the 2009 European Parliament election a Europe wide TNS poll conducted for La Fondation pour l’Innovation Politique found that 53% of EU citizens were “not at all interested” or “rather not interested“ in the June elections, while only 46% of citizens claimed to be “very interested” or “rather interested”. This highlights the level of voter apathy and indifference towards the European Union’s only directly elected institution. Are Eurozone members Greece, Ireland and Cyprus governed by Brussels and the unelected officials that form the Troika, European Commission, the IMF,the European Central Bank? Does the European Parliament play any role in the Troika decision?

    We also need to acknowledge that markets determine the value of voters’ pension funds for their retirement with risky derivatives trades and their influence on politicians, which is best seen in the United States. Investment banks on Wall Street have financed President Obama’s Presidential campaigns, yet it’s the ordinary citizens who elected him. Even in ancient Greece, often though of the cradle of democratic ideas, democracy has its critics. The current Eurozone crisis and its bailouts have reduced democracy in the Union. On YouTube some political commentators have compared the European Union to the Soviet Union. However the EU was founded on strong democratic principles and cannot be compared to this communist’s dictatorship.

  26. avatar
    Nikolaos Sotirelis

    Since some of you have refered to democracy in ancient Greece, you’ve to know something about it. They had two kinds of ellection. The first one was an easy procedure and it was related with the choise of the leaders. This kind of ellection was made by acclamation! The most important ellections however, were the choise by the citizens of whom they believe had increase his power and influence so mutch that had become dangerous for the democracy. This ellection was made with secret voting, by writing the name of the dangerous on a shell. This was called ostrakism (ostrako = shell). The man with the more votes was banished for at least four years from the city. I LEAVE THE COMBARISON AND THE CONCLUSIONS TO YOU!

  27. avatar
    Eoin MacCárthaigh

    I?m not going to get into an argument or debate with anyone in particular. As you already know democracy is derived from the Greek work kratos and thus means ?rule by the demos?, demos referring to ?the people?. The Greeks originally used the term democracy to mean the ?poor? or the ?many?. How apt to describe today?s ?urozone crisis as a large proportion of EU citizens today are ?poor? due to unemployment, negative equity or the loss of savings. The classical model of democracy is based on Athenian democracy used during the fourth and fifth centuries BEC and amounted to a form of government by mass meetings. All major decisions were made by the Assembly, or Ecclesia, to which all citizens belonged. Yet, political participation was restricted to male citizens over the age of 20, while slaves (the majority of the population) women and foreigners had no political rights whatsoever. Are Irish people enslaved to repay the bad debts of Anglo Irish Bank until 2053? These bad debts came to light due to reckless speculations on the markets which resulted in the St Patricks day massacre five years ago. Are certain EU countries banished from economic growth because they were in receipt of EU bailouts?

  28. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    pardon me, but, hello no. and this from me who trades, equally.
    It dsnt work that way. We -the ppl – decide they (we :p markets ;) react. That’s how it shld be.

  29. avatar
    Florin Davidescu

    Europe is a multitude of countries having as many differencies as their number is. Their culture and way of living differs from country to country. We can see Northern part – where people work more and have discipline; the Southern part – where the history, sun and warmth have determined societies with preferences for enjoying the life more than working. They are even little disciplined and put more passion in their life; finally, there is the Western part – more developed than Eastern part for many historical reasons… So, Europe is a huge diversity of nations, cultures, languages, traditions…etc…This suggests me that is not possible to create a deep homogeneity. And, we can see what kind of problems occur in this economic crisis, where, mainly Southern and Eastern countries have serious economic problems. We’ll see in future how it evolves. But this kind of problems generate a huge dissatisfaction for the affected countries. Probably EU won’t be able to harmonize too deep its legislation for all countries and even more problems might occur… Solving one problem generates many others. The differencies cannot be avoided, because they are too many and too deep enforced as a result of hundreds and even thousands of years of historical evolution. Voting is decisive and necesarry at country level, but, at EU level, voting dilutes its meaning very much. This is why finally, the tendency is to blame the EU as entity. A country represents a society, but EU represents a group of different societies. People of countries can easier generate leaders and control them via vote. At EU level, they cannot. So, the feeling (especially during Economic Crisis) is that there are some very few European leaders that take decisions for whole EU without any control from citizens. However, finally, citizens will end-up by blaming EU as entity.
    Conclusion: Voting is important because it reflects the level of satisfaction/dissatisfaction. Voting should never be neglected. Leaders as individuals could fail (democracy risks which are corrected via vote, which must be respected), but citizens as large group never fail when they have to decide their own direction. So, the markets (created by voters) should care what voters think and not the opposite. Putting together markets and voters of various societies seems an impossible task…

  30. avatar
    Nikolaos Sotirelis

    The myth of the “hard working” North and the “lazy” South: According to the OECD for the year 2010 Greeks are coming 1st in Europe (and 2nd in world) with 2017 working hours per year. Germans are far behind with 1408 h/year, second from the end. And our Dutch friends who very often accuse Greeks us lazy, are the last with 1377 h/year! http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DatasetCode=ANHRS

  31. avatar
    Florin Davidescu

    Maybe it’s more about organization and efficiency than number of hours to work ? However all these problems are the result of some long-term ineficiency. It’s interesting to figure-out what generated the economic problems in some European countries.

  32. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    The lazy Southerners is a myth that Angela Merkel supported for electoral reasons. I don’t know about Greece, but we in Portugal work in average 295 hours more per year than the Germans. The question is productivity. Many politicians and commentators blame the workers, but actually it is very easy to explain: suppose a farmer, gives a rural worker a hoe to dig an hectare. It will took several days to do it, right? Suppose the same farmer, bought a tractor to plow the same hectare. How long the same rural worker would do it? Just a couple of hours. The worker is the same, the technology is completely different. Who to blame? The farmer of course. On the normal society the entrepreneurs are responsible to provide the tools work, if they do not give the most modern technology, of course the productivity is lower. Of course, when the Southern European countries entered in the EU, the Northern countries were not interested in the industrialization of the Southern countries. So, they come with the theory that Southern countries could live on tourism and services. Even today, many Germans think that way. The problem is, we cannot survive properly living on tourism. And, obviously living on financial services or others was a complete myth without any reliable basis. So, all the EU subsidies were to infra-structures (which cannot be exported) or to destroy some agriculture crops (it paid to dig up vineyards and olive trees in Portugal), and our heavy industries have been destroyed like steel mills, construction of railway carriages, shipyards, etc. Meanwhile, ECB lent money to our banks at very low interest rates to stimulate the State to invest and the public consumption. Now, they got what they wanted: we are in debt, we are in a position we cannot pay, they are buying our still existent big companies at a bargain prices, and we get unemployed and completely dependent on them. It is a case of saying, not as in the death nazi camps “Arbeit mach frei” but “Arbeitslosigkeit macht frei! (Unemployment will free you).

  33. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Os eleitores devem votar escolher os politicos que desenvolvam politicas verdadeiras é isso que os europistas precisam para desenvolver uma europa forte com uma economia forte e travar esses impérios que estão a criar dentro do espaço europeu os paises periféricos precisam de garantir a estabilidade politica e de solidariedade dos paises mais poderosos da UE

  34. avatar
    Limbidis Adrian

    Under capitalism politics is subordonated to money.
    And money is what the rich ( and few ) have.
    Just like there is no “democracy” at your workplace ( you don’t get to decide with your fellow workers what to produce, how to produce and what to do with the profits – your BOSS does ) , same is with politics.
    Money buys politics. And the wealthy individuals and big corporations are doing what they have to, what the system REWARDS and TRAINS them to do in order to perpetuate THEIR good life over yours.
    The markets DICTATE politics – whether you like it or not. To change that, our whole societies and economic system would have to be RADICALLY changed.

    Check the italian “Marcora law” for more info.
    http://wikipreneurship.eu/index.php5?title=Marcora_Law

  35. avatar
    catherine benning

    We must radically change this capitalist lunacy into a remake of the ‘welfare state.’ What is needed is a massive redistribution of wealth from the greedy morally ignorant to a humanist reform. We deserve to have our ‘collective taxes’ used to take care of our needs here in Europe. Not used to fulfill the whims and social desires of the few who manage to get themselves into seats of power over us which is then used to thwart us, as they have done to date.

    However, it has to be run by people with their feet on the ground who thoroughly understand the force of mankind, good and bad, not run by dreamers who fail to accept reality in all its forms.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/field_01.shtml

    What we need is a peaceful revolution by and through the ballot box. Starting with, ‘Direct Democracy.’

  36. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    Thanks Nikolaos for the link. After all it was 298 and not 295. But you, Greeks, my goodness, you work a lot. You know, our mistake was to believe we could live on tourism. The EU experts told us to dismantle our shipyards but Germany still has their own, and still building. May be, would be better, we Southern Europe to leave the EU and build a new Unioin (with France) and invest in a industrialization of our countries. With our cheaper labour, we could beat the Northern industries.

  37. avatar
    Nikolaos Sotirelis

    Dear Visente it’s exactly the same thing here too! The “Scaramagas” shipyards used to be the bigest in Mediterranean and one of the bigest in world. The Germans bought it without paying a dime and then they underestimate it. in benefit of the Hamburg shipyards.Several years ago, when the first concerns about the elimination of our industrial production appeared, our Nothern partners were tranquilizing us, by confirming us that we’ll become the Europe’s resort. Instead of that the number of tourists from Central Europe were dramatically waned. They prefered the cheaper Turkish beaches, while we were buying their expensive cars and submarines. Any way the problem is that we have to rebuild our stolen industry step by step. Our industrial productivity that was taken from us sneaky and by using unfair methods. With or without our North “friends”!

  38. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    I don’t think it was an innocent strategy. We are the ones to blame. We have been too naive. Now it is time to fight back.

  39. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    Ich kauf keine deutsche produkt – A sentence I saw on a profile of a guy. May be we, Southerners should do the same, as a pressure measure to Germans.

  40. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    You know, David, UK also went on the story of services economy and lost part of its industry. Where are all the car industry of Britain? Some brands disappear (I had an Austin) and the others are now part of VW, Ford or even Tata. See how your economy is now. You could blame EU but you should blame Reaganomics and Mrs Tatcher.

  41. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    “Considering the impact of their vote on financial market” is the last bit of sovereignty that would now be subordinated by people to global capitalism. Depends on your point of view whether you think this is good or bad, but make no mistake, it is absolutely true. And as far as the eurozone crisis is concerned, the impact SHOULD be for European politicians to finally tell their voters the truth that they have been reluctant to tell – we have created a federal european entity without you paying attention, it will collapse unless we give it fiscal and monetary control because ruling by consensus is a colossal failure, and its collapse will be an even bigger economic disaster than the mess we have made in the last 10 years.

  42. avatar
    Marcel

    What the socalled financial markets want should never be taken into account, to any degree. Ever.

    @Nikolaos & Vicente
    You and your countries are free to leave the Euro. But if you want to stay, you play by the rules. The rules you agreed upon joining, and which are now being applied. Beggars cannot be choosers, and he who pays the piper, picks the tune.

    I take it you think that solidarity means that I pay and you get? I will never agree to that.

    And as for the OECD statistics, being present at work doesn’t mean you actually do any work. I can be at work for ten hours and only work for four. The OECD would count this as ten instead of four what it really is.

    @Jovan
    If the EU and the Euro disappeared, we would be better off, not worse. The EU and the Euro are leading us to the abyss and catastrophe, we can only escape if we ditch the EU and the Euro.

  43. avatar
    Duncan

    @Marcel, I think as a fairly decent counterpoint if you can be at work for 10 hours and only work for 4 of them, then surely that makes you “lazy” as it happens I’m working at around 1900 hours a year (if I don’t do overtime but do use all my holidays) and that’s after I’ve taken away my brake times. I work every one of those hours and I also do overtime when I can, so really it will be closer to 2000+ hours a year I work since I still have 108 hours of holidays I haven’t used. At no point during work am I stopping to chat (being able to multitask talking and working at the same time) or check my internet or phone (which due to volatile chemicals needs to be turned off). If I follow your logic, that means people who do office based work are lazy, whereas manual labourers are not. So it in no way makes people lazy based on location, but instead on what work they do. So if office workers are lazy, why do they earn more on average than manual labourers?

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