Tag Archive: Politics


There seems a fundamental paradox in austere measure as an answer to a need for economic growth. Yet the markets seems to be overpowering logical decisions, and progressive economic policies seemed handcuffed by an insatiable need to restore financial stability to global financial institutions.

Indebted Euro zone countries policies are in a strangle hold by the current economic downturn. The markets are demanding those in the red zone act swiftly and aggressively in order to blow out the fuse on the powder keg of instability which is currently planted firmly underneath the Euro. Appeasing the will of the markets is an obligated political commitment and the need to implement austere measures is a political reality.

The rules of the Euro zone necessitate the immediate introduction of punitive cuts in the exchequer coffers of those culprits who have for too long thrown the rule book out the window. Reducing spending, implementing severe cuts and ending the addiction to borrowing by some Member states makes sense holistically for Euro survival.

However for struggling Euro economics this represents the ultimate paradox. Economic growth is the engine to drive a crippled state out of recession. With growth comes employment, with employment comes tax generation/welfare alleviation all of which contribute in a progressive fashion to the erosion of national debt.

While European political will is very much in favour of halting the brakes on borrowing and paying back the backers by any means necessary. This will is shaped by a ferocious need to protect the Euro, but conversely the need to protect the Euro is most sacrosanct to these very borrowers in the first place.

Staying alive in the Euro zone is going to become increasingly more hazardous on the socio-economic structure of struggling Euro countries. The rules of the game have changed and many may begin to question; is competing in the Euro zone and abiding by its accompanying rules beneficial or a bulwark against true recovery? Is the survival route being applied by most governments the only method of salvation?

A subservient method of applying beneficial Euro-centric policy to the behest of the national economy is the current prescription, alternatives are muted and perceived as potential fractious to European stability.

Perhaps a new departure is on the horizon but intrinsic foreboding about market retaliation is clouding any new vision.

The Euro is continually slipping towards parity with the dollar, regardless of the frantic implementation of bailout reserves, austere measures and staunch financial regulation. Perhaps a European wide solution is not the true answer to staying alive in the Euro zone. Devaluation of the Euro is not an option as no one country is singing from the same hymn sheet. A dislocation of indebted member states to revert to a national currency, devaluing it and leaving the remaining “strong economies” to restore confidence to Euro stability maybe the only way to stem the fate of the currency.

Political will is diametrical opposed to this notion at present but is it plausible that any indebted countries government can survive a new tenure while subsequently applying furiously the necessary means to keep the Euro afloat. Something will have to give and unfortunately the current toeing of the line may have damming repercussions which could paralysis many economies and their citizens .

The fear of on an economic outbreak perpetrated by the “contagious “Greeks, and the foreboding forecasts of a wave of financial instability consuming the Euro zone have prompted E.U Commission to take a drastic stance encompassing a potential inflammatory budget review process.

The commission is advocating the implementation of a “peer review process”, where effectively national sovereign member states would submit their budgets for approval by the Commission. The review process would act as a preventive measure to ensure economic harmony and act as a defense against potentially destabilizing fiscal policy.If unharmonious policy was enacted it would have detrimental consequences to the valuation of the Euro and effectively devalue other member states economies, and in this lies the premise for the Commission’s actions.

The implication of this move could be potential shattering to the solidarity of the European Union. The emergence of a fractured European Union is a real possibility.

Take the hypotheses of an indebted member state in a position where its Government is unable to enacted tough austerity measures which are the perennial prerequisite of any current bailout package. The Euro zone bailout reserve will be forced to provide funds even though the Government is unable to meet the requirements of its lenders. The alternative; to refuse funding is utterly unpalatable. It would have a domino effect of instability on other member states, particularly in the strength of the Euro.

The Budget review process would try to act as a combatant to this happening in the first place, and would act as a progressive form of economic governance and undoubtedly would give the Commission the ability to pre-approve bailout countries budgets ensuring economic harmony.

The fundamental problem that may arise from this is that the tenure of any Government under the current climate is on shaky ground. In the case of a further bailout to a member state, there could very well be a rapid turnover of Government. The incoming Government will undoubtedly have to appease public opinion and undoubtedly dilute austere policies and in some cases abandon them. The consequences would be dire and other member states would undoubtedly call for harsh repercussions and in extreme cases expulsion from the Euro zone.

Olli Rehn, Europe’s economic and monetary affairs commissioner stated: “Coordination of fiscal policy has to be conducted in advance, in order to ensure that national budgets are consistent with the European dimension, that they don’t put at risk the stability of the other member states”

The dwarfing of sovereign fiscal autonomy is not new to member states, their very presence in the E.U is a commitment to a higher authority. However the national Budget is the ultimate in economic autonomy and the Big Brother Budget review process will inevitable be taken on the premise of “what is good for European economic harmony? “ and the needs of a domestic national economy will inevitably be marginalised.

Austere measures imposed by a national government are bitter pill for most to swallow, but the implementation by a supranational body of these measures with the primary goal of Euro zone stability, would be comparative to asking citizens to swallow a rugby ball, it wouldn’t fly and the backlash would range from protest, to calls for referendums on an exit of the Euro zone.

The complex between indebted member states wanting what’s best for them tempered by stable member states refusal to be weighed down by these reckless states may be the impetuous for a radical overhaul of the composition of the Euro zone. The creation of a fractured E.U is a distinct possibility with the relative solvent in one corner and fiscally defunct in the other. The Budget review process may be the catalyst to accelerate this dynamic and invariably bring about the beginning of the end of the European Dream.

The odds were stalked against him and the public relations cluster bomb involving the “bigoted” Labour supporter was a dart to the moral integrity of a Prime Minster low on popularity and running out of options. His one and last chance to retain political tenure was an aggressive Hail Mary type approach to the final leaders debate on the economy. Essentially Brown had a last ditch attempt to demonstrate his competence as a leader, instill outright fear in the electorate due to the potential instability created by his departure and downgrade his opponents policies to destructive and disastrous instruments of change.

The economy is the one field in which Brown may have felt his confidence was unshakable. His strategy was to try to demote recent economic crises to unavoidable effects of a vast global economic downturn.While consequently demonstrating his experience in handling the situation and instilling into the public mindset that change would have inevitable cataclysmic consequences. He stuck to this unflinchingly throughout the night but unfortunately for the Premier his execution caused more of a flicker than the fireworks that were desperately needed.

In contrast Cameron stepped up to the plate and successfully articulated his vision for a bigger society. Cameron conveyed to the audience that only through the nucleus of the family, small/medium enterprises, financial equality for Britons and Governmental reform would Britain recover and grow. Demonstrating the hypocrisy of Banks been bailed out by the public and the inability of people to secure credit was a big political blow to the current administration. Cameron’s promise of an increased availability of credit was a universally pleasing policy to a credit starved citizenry. His immigration stances feasibility was torn to shreds by both the LibDems and Labour. Immigration is a big issue and always produces emotive responses and the British electorate will be quite callus when it hits the polling booths. Cameron may have struck a chord in that he was the only one of the three to appear to take a seriously restrictive approach to immigration, regardless of the validity of his proposals, his attitude may stand him in good stead.

Clegg avoided complex economic speak, looked each question member in the eye and spoke in undiluted real terms on the state of the economy, those who got them into the crisis and his proposals for economic recovery and stimulus. His policies were all in terms of delivery centered around a big picture concept of departing from traditional party politics and creating a better, fairer Britain. Calling each question member by their name and engaging them on a down to earth level and applying his policies to practical everyday situations was an effective strategy. The constant approving nods from those question members as the camera alternated between Clegg and them will be a subtle influence to the millions watching at home. Clegg throughout the campaign has distanced himself from the other two leaders and conveyed his personableness through his best political ally; the television camera.Although he may not have appeared as solid when it came to policy substance, his personality, as throughout the campaign is his where he derives most of his support.

Brown continued to play a one string banjo throughout the debate: the Tory inheritance tax proposal and Cameron waving in a form of Neo-Tatcherism. It eventually after numerous mentioning just seemed tired and reeked of desperation, more worryingly was that this was Brown’s only real political blow and arguably the only card up his sleeve. Brown has effectively signed his own political death warrant through a less than spectacular display in this final debate, this was his last opportunity to engage the British public and instill within them a fear of a change.

Bar immigration Clegg and Cameron were not as confrontational as in previous debates, and this may be a forecast for the future. Cameron emerged victorious from this debate and its looks increasingly likely that he will be having his breakfast in 10 Downing street sooner rather than later, whether he will be on his own looks increasingly unlikely however.

Between Clegg and Cameron there is a more than enough of a political base for the support and construction of a coalition government. The Tories are eager for power and the Liberal Democrats are sick of political wilderness, both of these reasons will compel the formation of a coalition Government should its need arise.

May 6 might determine the nature of Britain’s first true Prime Ministerial partnership, a Clegg/Cameron coalition. Cameron may have won the final debate but Clegg has undoubtedly dislocated a sizable amount of Tory support, without which a majority is unlikely.

A Tory/Lib Dem may very well be on the horizon. The workability and form of this relationship will be decided by the British public, its continued existence and feasibility will be determined by its two leaders. Both promise change, a coalition government and its continued political existence will be one of the most radical changes to ever occur in British Politics. Whether its a change for better or the worse, is yet to be determined, but May 6th may see a radical transformation in British politics and a radical change in British Society.

The Greek financial bailout and the effect on its citizens is a painfully poignant example of the effect of inadequate financial regulation. It is perhaps a foreboding forecast for the future of an Irish society which has a higher domestic debt than the crippled Greeks.

Living through an age of austerity is now a political reality for the Greeks and will shackle most of its current generation. Their reaction and its effect on those in power should provide a stellar scale of analysis for other Governments. Effectively the austerity measures of the Greeks creates a real-time scale of consequences for political actors. This scale could be highly influential on Governments in similar situations, enabling them to determine how far people can be pushed when trying to decimate crippling debts.

The necessity of austerity measures and conditions of the bailout mean that no matter how unpopular with the Greek electorate, sledgehammer economics consisting of cuts, streamlining, shrinking of social welfare and essentially increased unemployment are all going to be devastating inevitable bi-products of the rescue deal.

The political will in Greece at the moment to engage in such measures is strong, but political will is enabled by the electorate. Will the Greeks continue to support a Government that has essentially committed themselves to a devolution of Greek society? Although an economic necessity for Greece’s financial survival, its people are already revolting and with time and further punitive measures this can only increase.

This situation should raise some alarming questions for those fronting the bill for the Greek Bailout. Is it possible for any Greek elected party weary of political survival to enforce the tough economic measures in their totality, which are fundamental prerequisites of the bailout? Unless political parties are willing to engage in political suicide, the realization of these measures in full are a seriously doubtful outcome.

The Germans approach to the handling of this situation and some calls from within the Bundestag for the Greeks to be thrown out of the euro should not simply be palmed of as political pandering for domestic approval. It’s true that Merkel had to appear as reluctant as possible to her own electorate and act as if her hand was forced, and in many respects it was. She evoked the image of a catastrophic collapse of the euro and stressing the effect of this on the German people as a resounding reason to back a Greek bailout. There is however a true underlying reluctance that should not be underestimated and this reluctance is reflected in the severity of the conditions of the bailout.

“If Greece is ready to accept tough measures, not just in one year but over several years, then we have a good chance to secure the stability of the euro for us all.”- Merkel

Although the Greeks have been rescued from financial oblivion, their inevitable diluted version of the tough measures required will anger their financial backers and make these backers increasingly unwilling to engage in any other rescue packages.

“There is a fear in the financial markets that the government will be either unwilling or unable to deliver these austerity measures.” -Ken Wattret, chief European economist at BNP Paribas.

Ireland should be sitting on the edge of its seats to see how smoothly the Greek bailout materializes. The ramifications of political turmoil and a dissolved Government in Greece would be devastating to any future financing Ireland may desperately crave.

The Greeks are in an ironically privileged position of being the first in the Eurozone to be bailed out. Although the Greeks will never see it that way, any further bailout will undoubtedly be stricter and given the future outcomes of the Greek situation, further rescue packages may not be forthcoming at all. An open objection from member states to another financial bailout could have devastating repercussions for the future stability and tenure of the euro and more worryingly a cataclysmic effect on Ireland.

The bailout may seem crippling to the Greeks now, but if Ireland was to stick its hand out in the future the results could be paralyzing.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy has taken a potentially inflammatory and radical stance against religious fundamentalism by forwarding legislation to the French parliament calling for an outright ban of the wearing of the burka in public.

Without a doubt the recent developments of Belgian Authorities to restrict the wearing of the Muslim veil by women has given further mettle to his cause. The home affairs committee of the Brussels federal parliament voted unanimously to ban the partial or total covering of faces in public places. Although the Belgians may have beaten him to the punch, Sarkozy has been a long time advocate of developing secularism and may play a prominent  influential role on the transferability of a burka ban to other member states .

Sarkozy has drawn a line in the sand where faith does not triumph above freedom. The move if passed, and likely so in a progressive secularist society such as France, could have far-reaching global ramifications. Sarkozy has effectively declared the Islamic dress as a direct victimization of women and a religiously imposed shackle on the independence of its wearers.

Fundamentalist factions of Islam, may see this a further rallying cry for extremist support. Their own perceived belief that Western Hegemony has infiltrated most sections of society and acts a direct derogation and threat to their beliefs will no doubt be bellowed from extreme pulpits. Inevitable these extremists will hold up Sarkozy’s actions as an amplification of this notion.

Many may argue that the very presence and wearing of the burka is an expression of religious and personal freedom. However the French premier arguments are based on the premise that the wearing of the garment is an obligation, effectively hides the women from public, acts a major obstacle to public interaction and alienates them from civil society. These arguments combined with the clandestine nature of the burka and its association as an effective disguise for suicide bombers all add to a compelling argument . All of which could easily persuade legislators, who are on a constant edge regarding terrorist activity and public safety.

Sarkozy in parallel with his Belgian counterparts has laid down a potential legislative precedent that could translate to a European law or at the very least put it right in the face of the E.U technocrats, causing many headaches in the process.

It raises a fundamental argument that highlights the complexity of cultural integration. In order to be a part of society and enjoy the benefits it has to offer one most comply by its rules and adjust their lifestyle to participate amicable with its other members.

Due to a catalogue of incidents of reactionary extremism, governments are increasingly sensitive to the ramifications of intrusive policies directed at religious practices, particular in the Islamic community. The actions of Sarkozy may demonstrate a bold example to political leaders unwilling and arguable afraid to engage in progressive reforms regarding the role of religion in their collective societies.

Sarkozy may have instigated a new wave of secularism that could have far-reaching consequences across European civil society as a whole and act as a platform for a more heavy-handed approach to governmental determination of religion’s role in the lives of its citizenry.

Many governmental agencies particularly the British will wait with bated breath to see if the French and Belgians can create an effective paradigm and they will look closely at the consequences good and bad that will arise from its implementation.

E.U Leadership Up In Smoke

As the skies open again, and the ash slowly dissipates into the horizon, there is still plenty of hot air about as analysts and political commentators begin to pick through the remnants of the volcanic ash crisis and inevitably seek out a guilty party to blame.

Consumer compensation, Aviation operators aliments and a staunch defence from regulatory bodies have all been thrown into the cauldron. This hot-pot of conflict has raised some fascinating points. In regard to crises we as a society seem to over regulate in relation to personal safety, and under regulate with regard to issues that have a far more detrimental impact on society as a whole i.e Financial Regulation.

However there is a common theme in regard to both areas, a lackluster and lethargic response from the most enormous and influential supranational regulatory body in the world: The European Union.There has for a long period ,arguable since its inception, been economic harmony in the E.U., conversely political harmony has always been its Achilles heel.

The absence of a collaborative harmonious and swift response to various crises has continually highlighted the absence of both leadership at a European level and its inability to react promptly and effectively to real-time situations.

Achieving an effective crisis management strategy should not be solely obsessed with preventative and containment measures. Although preventative action in order to contain immediate danger is the first port of call. A more inclusive reactionary approach to crisis management including all the major political actors in real-time should be immediately enacted once containment of the crisis is achieved.

The closing of Europe’s skylines and the sluggish response reeked of ineffectiveness.

The European Presidency should have a played a much more proactive role in the handling of the crisis. An immediate meeting of the Council Meetings should have been called in order to give a prudent risk assessment, inform aviation operators of an approximation of the ban,clearly outline the economic consequences and provide information on any assistance to both passengers/airlines that may or may not be provided. Relaying the outcomes of the meeting to the various member states populations in one voice would have reinforced confidence and may have alleviated some passenger concerns.

“This is a European embarrassment and… a European mess.”- IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani

Unfortunately it took 5 days for a European response to a problem that had misplaced and stranded thousands, created an economic fallout greater than the immediate grounding of planes after 9/11 and once again shattered public confidence in the effectiveness of an E.U response to an E.U crisis.