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From France to Greece, Voters Have Eurocrats Sweating Bullets

European leaders are watching the French election with bated breath, anticipating a possible new regime under socialist François Hollande. The outcome could determine the future of Europe’s austerity measures and reshape the Franco-German relationship. If this relationship falls apart, Europe will find it more difficult to make decisions, and the Euro crisis could get even worse. Currently Hollande is ahead, and officials in Brussels are biting their nails.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, an equally important election is taking place in Greece that has eurocrats in Brussels just as worried. The technocratic government of Lucas Papademos is preparing to cede power to a democratically elected successor, and center-right candidate Antonis Samaras is currently in the lead. Yet as the FT reports, fringe parties on both the left and right are gaining ground while the two major parties struggle to attract support. Many in the leading center-right New Democracy party openly worry that they may win without a commanding majority, which will make it difficult for the new government to administer the painful medicine the country needs.

This puts Samaras in a tough position, walking a tightrope between domestic voters and international creditors. In an attempt to win over austerity-weary voters, Samaras is boldly promising major changes to the bailout program. These words may placate his Greek constituents, but they make the country’s international creditors, including the EU and IMF, very nervous. Rhetoric like this does nothing assuage their mistrust of Greece’s commitment to the austerity program. Samaras is attempting to reassure them that he will stick to the plan, but this is a difficult balance to strike. The tension will likely worsen as voters become more fed up with the program, and there is little sign that Brussels has any remedy.

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  • Cunctator

    Why are they sweating bullets — because of elections that threaten the EU agenda? Really, how naive can one be. The Danes and the Irish, the French and the Dutch, not forgetting the Austrians, have all had elections or referenda that opposed EU initiatives and the results were just ignored by Brussels. I suspect that much the same will happen again. Yes, Hollande will make things un peu unpleasant for a while, but the immense EU machine will win in the end.

  • Kris

    And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people looked upon him with sullenness, and did commence rioting.

  • eon

    @1 Cunctator

    Exactly. The “wise heads” in Brussels are about as concerned about what French or Greek voters will do as Metternich was about France coming up with a second Napoleon.

    They are not elected, they are not answerable to anybody, and they control the increasingly-overbearing EU bureaucracy, which actually runs things. Now, their two top dogs are fighting over which one will be the actual EU President. Which, considering that it is an appointed, rather than an elected, position, is rather like spatting over who gets to be Charlemagne.

    Regardless of what its hoi polloi do or do not vote for, the EU leaders are determined to see Europe’s countries reduced to what Metternich once called Italy; mere “expression(s) of geographical location” rather than actual countries.

    If Britain is smart, they’ll cut their ties to Brussels now. The same for Germany.

    For the rest, it’s probably too late to get out before the roof falls in.

    clear ether


  • Kenny

    If Cunctator @1 is correct when he says, ‘… but the immense EU machine will win in the end,’ that’s only because no European country has a Second Amendment.

    In other words, the European citizenry has been neutered by the state, and the state (i.e., the elite) feels free to do what it wants to the sheeple there.

    Want freedom in the U.S.A., then support the National Rifle Association (NRA).

  • Jim.

    So if they’re weary of austerity now, what do you suppose they’ll do after they default on their loans, foreign creditors refuse to issue more, and they’re left to pay their own way?

    They act as if there’s some option here other than austerity. With the level of debt they’ve got, there really isn’t any.

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