Irish Crisis: And what about democracy?
17 November 2010
The Wall Street Journal Europe
A few months after the Greek crisis and in response to the risk of the collapse of the Irish economy and the economies of other eurozone states, the European Union is progressively introducing mechanisms for greater coordination and control. However, the Wall Street Journal warns that democracy and popular enthusiasm for the European project may now be sacrificed in the drive to avoid the fragmentation of the euro zone. “The political end of the European project is now being completed, having been parked because it was too difficult a subject when the single currency was founded,” remarks the American business daily. From now on, “there will be extraordinary oversight not just of budgets but all manner of other aspects of eurozone countries' economies. That goes well beyond a pooling of sovereignty. If it walks like a government, and it talks like a government, then it probably is a government.” “But what happens when enough voters, in what might be called a nation state, inside the euro zone, one day soon decide that they want to change their government?” wonders the deputy editor of the European edition of the WSJ Iain Martin. “I don't mean reshuffle their political elite, drilled by the bond markets and common currency orthodoxy, but vote to really head off in a new direction right or left, a direction that requires an independent economic policy. Perhaps such voters in countries including Ireland will always be relaxed when they discover the option has been permanently removed by the ECB and EU. But what happens if they are not so relaxed?” The newspaper argues that EU economic control could result in a political backlash: “skepticism about the European project leads to nationalism and extremism, said Mr. Van Rompuy last week. It is equally possible that designing a new form of government that does not have democracy at its heart will anger voters and provide an opening for extremists.”