Apr 30 2012

European Governments Struggle with Fiscal Crisis, Public Anger Over Austerity

Feature Stories | Published 30 Apr 2012, 9:54 am | Comments Off on European Governments Struggle with Fiscal Crisis, Public Anger Over Austerity -

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French Socialist, Francois Hollande, defeated incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy last week in the first round of voting for the next president of France. Hollande is forecast to win the May 6th run-off and unseat his conservative rival, who has faced withering domestic criticism for his support of German-led austerity measures, meant to instill financial discipline across the Eurozone.

May 6th will also be an important day for Greeks when they vote for the first time since the resignation of Prime Minister George Papandreou last November. The poster child of economic malfunction and the dangers of austerity, the Greek economy has been in recession for four years with an unemployment rate of 19%. The election will likely result in a coalition government, with the center-right ‘New Democracy’ party expected to win about a third of seats in Parliament.

Meanwhile, the governments of two EU nations collapsed last week. Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, was forced to resign after failing to pass a series of budget cuts while in Romania, the ruling Center right party was removed from power after cuts to public employment led to a successful vote of no confidence. And, in the Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr (Peter) Necas barely survived his no-confidence vote.

Discontent has spread throughout the continent as Europeans react to rising unemployment and diminished social services brought on by cuts to public spending. With more nations officially falling into recession, voters have begun to question the legitimacy of an austerity-based approach.

GUEST: Yanis Varoufakis, professor of Economics at the University of Athens, currently a visiting professor at University of Texas at Austin

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