The lack of democratic legitimacy in EU is now plain as day.

In my previous entry, a little over 3 weeks ago, I mentioned that Papandreou and Samaras agreed for a new guy to come in and do the same thing that Papandreou’s been doing until now, to hold elections in February and allow Samaras to be voted in to continue doing the same thing. I also noted that since mentioning the referendum, no indignatos have been on the streets and no major strikes backed by the left or the right have been held in Athens; something that continues to this day.  This has particularly perplexed me, since I am of the opinion that an appointed government does not have democratic legitimacy and perhaps now is the time that the people should hit the streets, if we actually believe in some of our basic rights and freedoms.  Moreover, there are several questions that I have as a result of all of this, some internal regarding the Greek political scene, and some of course, systemic and on a European level.
I will not bore you about our internal political workings for long, since this is indeed a Portugal based blog, but there are a couple of things that I should point out here. First of all, it indeed seemed like the entire political spectrum, all major actors including all major journalists and most of his own political party turned against Mr. Papandreou.  OK, so he’s out. But now what? The same policy implemented by the mostly the same officials with a different head, it seems.  What makes anybody think that the austerity measures will now work? And if our new banker PM, his name eludes me at this time of night, hands away power on the 19th of February as scheduled and calls elections, the next PM, will do the same, regardless of political “ideology” or colour. So why did we go through all of this in the first place?
As I’m sure most of the world now agrees and as several have been contending for the last two years, the problem is obviously systemic in nature. In my discipline, international relations, we typically study problems at the system, state and personal levels and as with any international question, the European dept crisis, how it arose and how it has been dealt with, in order to be explained and possibly solved (as I mentioned in my previous entry, it is my strong belief that a “solution” can ONLY be political rather than economic in nature), must be looked at wholistically from each perspective.  As a student, I usually leaned towards the systemic level of analysis as I believed that these types of analyses had the strongest arguments.  For our current predicament, such an analysis is definitely beyond the scope of my simple scribblings, but although we have strong arguments for state and personal levels of analyses, the systemic approach would win again. I’ll go over what I mean very briefly.
On the state level, we have the internal workings of the countries that are involved in any given crisis, and how these workings contributed to the climax (which I do not think we have yet reached regarding our Eurozone woes just yet). In Greece since achieving Eurozone status, we have had easy access to cheap money, did not invest it properly, were not able to transform our quasi-communist market into a competitive machine.  Nevertheless, several Greek companies made it outside of Greece, we were excellent consumers for German and French products services and especially military equipment (.. hint, hint..). Hence, bust. I cannot say what the problems were in Portugal. I can say that Spain does not seem to have such large structural problems (dept is only 61% of GDP, but they are on their way to IMF) and I could go into Irelands’ banking problems, but only as an outsider.  Once it became clear that the EU was in a crisis situation, the German internal state checks and ballances did not allow a single euro for the Greeks”, their press, and even bureacracy and executive painted us as lazy womanizing waiters.
At the Individual level of analysis, there is not much to be said. In Greece the incopetency of Kostas Karamanlis and George Papandreou are well documented. The first was elected twice by implementing a crony regime through which primary dept increased by 80 billion between 2004-2009. The second was elected by telling people in 2009 that “there is plenty of money to implement my programme” when the spreads were constantly increasing from 2008.  The incompetency of Merkel to deal with such an issue is clearly evident and should not surprise anybody that knows she was born and raised in a command economy and cannot seem to grasp the notion of monetary policy. But again, I am an outsider.  Nevertheless, I have to ask myself what would the situation be like if we had much more adept states-people in power the likes of Simitis, Baroso, Chirac and Schroder? As for Sarkozi, Socrates, Berlusconi and the rest of our great leaders, unfortunately my word limit does not allow me to comment.
What I can say, and what most of the world now realizes, is that the system seems to be flawed. It was the argument of all us PIIGS from the beginning, and we still cannot understand why the ECB cannot be a “FED-like” body, issuing Baroso-sanctioned Eurobonds, printing Euro to buy time; why the EIB cannot fund major “Marshal-like” plans across Europe to stimulate growth, especially when the problems of Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Spain all combined, in real numbers, are about equivalent to the problem of Italy.  (For a further detailed analysis of the systemic “solution” a great source is the blog of Mr. Yianis Varoufakis http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/ It seems to me that some of his alternative” ideas just may be implemented, with a 2 year delay of course).  As far as I’m concerned, austerity has not and will not work, as it has not anywhere it has been implemented all over the world, ever.
The above solutions, pointing to a deeper Union, bring to light the key issue that has to be dealt with in my opinion on the EU level, that of legitimacy.  I remember that since i was a student studying the quagmire of European institutions and their workings the question of lack of democracy for such power was called into question and a heated subject of academic literature.  The lack of democratic legitimacy in EU is now plain as day. Who are all these people that define how much we make, how much we spend, where we spend it, our economic outlook and our future?  These issues should have already been dealt with in a clear fashion and not with a general European Constitution as it was drafted in the past because it is now evident that economic union seems to mean de facto political union.  It seems clear that Europe either moves to a more federal model now, or ceases to exist as we know it. This crisis, as with other crises before it(including for example Yugoslavia), has brought to the fore the classic conflicts regarding the Union itself. 

Yannis Parcharidis. 
He also contributed to this blog about the rationale of Papandreou's moves and what happened to Greece?

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