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Comment is Free: Spain did not swing to the right, the left collapsed
Did Zapatero have an alternative? There was without doubt space for other policies, even in the context of the austerity imposed from Europe. But how to apply policies of the left in the midst of the crisis, in a globalised economy and in a European Union where most states are governed by conservative parties? Zapatero's cuts were seen by a huge number of those who had elected him as an intolerable betrayal. Voters turned their back on the PSOE. If the only way out of the crisis was to support the right, then better the original than a copy.

The rigid institutional design of the EU, the European Central Bank and the euro - the only currency without its own treasury - has converted the countries of southern Europe into nations without economic sovereignty and indebted in a currency they don't control, as was Argentina with the dollar. Britain can devalue the pound or print more money: generate inflation and so reduce the weight of its debt. In Spain, without the peseta, it is people, salaries, the welfare state and workers' rights that are devalued.

The real problem is common to all the European left: the fiscal joy of the bubble years and national governments' lack of autonomy. The discourse is not wrong, but its application is impossible. There is no swing to the right, but the destruction of the left. It's not political theory but its practice. It cannot be true that the same welfare state that paid for (the recovery of) broken, ruined postwar Europe is today an unsustainable utopia.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 6th, 2012 at 11:46:58 AM EST

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