The current financial crisis has seen unprecedented levels of European involvement in the affairs of troubled countries.
German and French leaders have forced Greece to scrap a referendum form a unity government and they even got the man they wanted to be the PM. Italy is implementing tough austerity measures under EU prodding while Berlusconi has been forced to step down. What do these events foretell for Europe’s political future?
No complaints are emerging from the rest of the nations about the uncharacteristic heavy-handedness of the European Union.
However, voters in those beleaguered member states are not happy about the mess their leaders have made. These fiercely independent-minded people of Greece and Italy seem to have accepted that their leaders have a tendency to , both countries in dire trouble over their sovereign debts, seem willing to accept as their new prime ministers technocrats who are veterans of pan-European institutions with reputations for meddling in national affairs.
Despite the European Union being a declared supporter of democracy, recent moves of Sarkozy, Merkel and EU officials in Brussels are anything but supportive of the rights of national voters to shape national policies.
Merkel and Sarkozy brusquely summoned George Papandreou, then Greece’s prime minister to the G-20 summit in Cannes and even scrapped his referendum.
EU leaders had the power to withhold the desperately needed (euro) 8 billion ($11 billion) batch of bailout money. They forced Greece’s two main parties join in a government of national unity, which they did. And EU honchos made no secret of their preference for Papademos to lead that government of national unity.
So, after four days of wrangling, the Socialists and Conservatives tapped Papademos.
EU officials, in an expression of mistrust of the elected government in Italy, imposed International Monetary Fund financial monitoring.
In Greece, people had created democracy but were wary of the recession effects and so not very eager about heading to the ballot box. A poll revealed that 79% of the population was against Papandreou’s plan to hold the referendum on a bailout. Besides, 52% of Greek voters preferred the formation of a coalition government to early general elections.
Even Italian public is cross with the leaders, more with its own Berlusconi and Italian politicians than those sitting in EU headquarters in Brussels.
Project Europe had been coming apart because of several reasons not the least being a single currently but no single political authority with these unprecedented steps, Europe finally seems to be moving in a direction which will see a greater cohesion at least in its economic policies.