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Hullabaloo


Sunday, October 25, 2015

 

Sham democracy and kangaroo elections

by Tom Sullivan

In 2008, there were financial bailouts for megabanks and foreclosures for homeowners. There was vulture capitalist Paul Singer seizing an Argentine naval vessel in a dispute over debt in 2012. There was the European Central Bank bringing Greece to heel this summer after voters in January elected Alexis Tsipras to end the “vicious cycle of austerity.” Coming Soon: TPP. There are probably other cases as well. If it was not clear already who is really running the planet, here is another clue.

In Portugal's elections earlier this month, Socialists, Communists, and the Left Bloc had won enough seats to form a coalition government, displacing the center-right Forward Portugal Alliance (PAF). And then?

Elections in Portugal this week offered the latest sign that when an individual European nation’s voters challenge eurozone austerity policies, the monetary union -- and the international creditors it represents -- takes precedence. Portugal’s president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, fueled an ongoing debate about the future of European democracy on Thursday when he reappointed an outgoing center-right prime minister despite election results that gave three left-leaning political parties the majority of seats in parliament.

Silva asked incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho to remain and to form a new government. Opposition Socialists threaten to bring down his government with an immediate vote of no confidence. Writing for the Independent, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard sees where this is going:

Greece’s Syriza movement, Europe’s first radical-Left government in Europe since the Second World War, was crushed into submission for daring to confront eurozone ideology. Now the Portuguese Left is running into a variant of the same meat-grinder.

Europe’s socialists face a dilemma. They are at last waking up to the unpleasant truth that monetary union is an authoritarian Right-wing enterprise that has slipped its democratic leash, yet if they act on this insight in any way they risk being prevented from taking power.

That is a nicer way of saying that what you thought was government by consent of the governed is really more like your student government experience in high school. The principal has the power to overrule. It is a sham democracy. Where once people might have held business' leash, now we wear the collar.

This may still be reversible if Americans lead. But right now it appears there is only enough indignation for pushing back in Europe. America is so besotted with bread and circuses that people cannot even muster enough indignation to get off the couch, vote, and find out just how short their leashes actually are.

Fielding Mellish: I object, your honor! This trial is a travesty. It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.