Ireland takes to the polls today to state its opinion on the new EU Fiscal Pact. The country may be in dire straits, but it can still hold its head up high and proudly play its part in Europe, and even lead Europe by voting No in this referendum.
Despite only 12 of the 17 Eurozone countries required to back this Treaty change for it to pass, a healthy challenge to the myopic solutions in place would be beneficial to the debate at this stage. It is likely, however, that the Irish will forego a more Keynesian suggestion and grudgingly continue to accept the austerity medicine that it has been administered by voting Yes.
This would be unfortunate. A lefty solution to the financial storm wreaking its way through Europe has bobbed to the surface recently with Tsipras’ anti-bailout party set to increase its vote share at the Greek elections on June 17th, Francois Hollande’s growth-based Socialist arguments pipping Sarkozy to the French presidency earlier this month and Christine Lagarde urging George Osborne to consider a Plan B to boost British, and European, growth prospects. Angela Merkel is a lady that may yet be for turning if more pressure could be placed on the Chancellor to make Germany take up more of the Euro strain given its trade surpluses and strong credit rating, relieving the burden on the struggling countries in the Eurozone. Ireland is currently best placed to keep this pressure up with its referendum today.
The banks and businesses that have a self-centred vested interest in Greece and Spain and Ireland enduring a more impoverished short to medium term future are against having their loans commuted or written off. However, if you back the wrong horse in any other gambling market you don’t get your money back; so these banks that backed the wrong countries should surely be made to bear the brunt of their mistakes. The Irish are being tricked into a sense of guilt and responsibility in accepting their fate by ‘the markets’ directing them down a one-way street.
How did we get to the position where companies are dictating to countries what should happen? Should we be electing representatives into Greece, Ireland and the UK or JP Morgan, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs? Why shouldn’t countries adopt the Icelandic model of telling banks to ‘get stuffed’ when they ask for their money back?
The whole point of the European Union was to raise standards for all and progress peacefully together as a Continent. Stronger together and weaker apart etc. I don’t see how that works when member states have their noses pressed to the dirt while others continue to enjoy relative luxury. Germany had its house in order for the past two decades, Scandinavian economies are motoring on very nicely and even Britain has built up a nice buffer zone keeping disaster at bay. European solutions for European problems is surely the way forward if we can all just pull together.
This isn’t just a referendum between an onwards march to a European superstate or countries going back to punts, drachma and pesetas. The Irish are also voting Yes for continued slavish obedience to the markets or voting No for a Socialist solution to a Capitalist mess.
It seems an easy decision from where I am sitting.