Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Europe's Imperiled Institutions

by Nader Mousavizadeh and Erik Jones

New York Times

May 29, 2012

The euro zone crisis has spared few pillars of the nearly 60-year-old European project. The chasm between elite purpose and popular support is widening by the day, with little to suggest that political support for austerity without growth can be sustained for much longer.

It is one matter, however, for one set of political leaders — such as those in Spain, France and Italy — to be punished for the failure to manage effectively the aftermath of the financial crisis. It is quite another, for the institutions of Europe — including the European Central Bank — to face a crisis of confidence and legitimacy that threatens their very existence.

In Greece, the polls have moved again, raising a fresh round of questions about whether the Greek electorate remains committed enough to Europe to return a pro-austerity coalition when they vote on June 17. By contrast, the Irish referendum seems more secure. Irish voters have no love for their government and little enthusiasm for austerity, but they seem to accept that it is better to go along with Europe than to go it alone.

These two illustrations tell us a lot about the political economy of the crisis in Europe — about the Europe that still attracts and the Europe that is sinking under the weight of the current crisis.


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