Monday, April 29, 2013

Hungary slips but Europe still focuses on Austerity.

For the past few years Europe is focusing on its economic crisis. Countries like Greece, Ireland, Portugal and others that received a bail-out package from the EU/IMF, as well as those that might need the same measures in the future are always on the spotlight.

But apart the crisis in the Euro-zone, there is another danger that lurks in Europe: the rise of nationalism and the fall of democratic standards in certain states. In the debt-stricken Greece for example, the rise of populist and far-right parties is a worrying case.

But some countries escape the spot-light: Hungary being one of them. The situation there started with the efforts to control the media. In the beginning I was not as alarmed for certain reasons. Comparing for example the reality of the Greek media where there is absolute freedom and multiple news channels, papers and other media, the quality of information is rather poor.

Although I am a journalism student, sometimes I despair with the Greek media and I would wish  for some kind of reform or intervention. Despite the plurality of the opinions and voices, what we actually get is a cacophony of opinions but very few actually give any constructive contribution.

The stronger voices are those of the vested interests of the ruling rich elites, while others are being muted. Then I witnessed the Murdoch scandals in the British media, where they used disgraceful practices to create a vile form of populist news agenda. Or the situation in Ireland where there are very few television channels and most of them belonging to the sate, offering a limited point of view, it was natural for me to wish for a reform in the European media.

But Hungary now went way beyond the tolerable progress of "reforms" and it is a wonder how it escapes any sanctions from the EU.

Under the latest implementations of the current Hungarian Parliament, the Constitutional Court is no longer allowed to give its opinion about the content of laws and to refer to its own case-law  which results in the loss of almost all monitoring power on the legislature and the executive.

That according to some, wipes out what was left of opposition forces against the government. Together with the restriction of the freedom of the press, political direction of the Central Bank, inclusion in the Constitution of Christian religious references and condemnation of homosexuality,Hungary is slipping back to its authoritarian past. 

Of course we should not forget that Hungary is also currently repaying a bailout loan to the IMF and the European Union which it received in 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis. Hungary still has around 3 billion euro in repayments to complete this year to the IMF.

So like many other countries (Greece), that are under an IMF/EU bail-out program and the austerity that is linked to it, it is no wonder that the country's past is re-emerging and a more radical political reality is being established. But how it can co-exist with the current status of the country, being an EU member and coordinating its policies with those of other European countries? 

How can they justify limiting the freedom of movement of their higher education students, obliging them to stay in the country? 

Europe's stance towards Hungary is scandalous. The European elites are focusing too much on the Euro-zone crisis and the countries engulfed by it, while they are not as hard liners against the situation in Hungary. Europe uses the crisis to impose austerity and promote reforms in Greece, thus using politics to tackle the problems in the Mediterranean country. 

But why don't they do the same in Hungary? It is clear to me that the European elites still view the EU as an economic project of theirs, not a political one. They are forced to use political meddling in the Euro-zone countries in crisis, just because the situation there was a clear danger in their economic pet-project the Euro. 

But since Hungary is not a part of it, they let the country slip into a more authoritarian political reality. The Hungarian Government and its Prime Minister Mr. Viktor Orban, also belong to the most popular and powerful European political party, the EPP (European People's Party).

The center-right alliance of European parties, should technically place sanctions against Orban and his government, or at least become more vocal against what is going on in the country. But they remain curiously quiet, for the moment at least. 

Of course it is not the first and only time. They tolerated Italy's Silvio Berlusconi for years in power and they still do nothing about FYROM's Prime Minister Mr. Gruevski and his nationalist megalomania. They accept him in their ranks, despite what he stands for and the harm he is doing to his country and the Balkans. 

As a whole Europe is doing little to tackle the rise of nationalism and extremism throughout the continent, especially in countries like Greece that struggles to contain the rise of the Golden Dawn Party. 

If our leaders do not want to intervene to another country's internal affairs unless it affects their economies, then the message they give us is that the EU is still an economic block with little hope of becoming a political one. 

If the EU and parties like the EPP remain passive while witnessing the political costs of the economic crisis, then there will be a time when all the efforts to fix the European economy will be in vain. Because the political reality in Europe will be so badly damaged, that no economic measures will be able to contain the continent's political and as a result, economic disintegration. 

(Some extracts for the above article were taken by the NewSatesman and the Wall Street Journal.) 

Since this post has attracted some controversy in my Facebook page I would like to explain better the goal of this article. My aim is not criticize the Hungarian people as a nation, rather their current Government's policies.

I admire the Hungarians and their country is incredibly beautiful. But the voices that state some alarming developments in the country are coming both from outside and inside the country, from Hungarians themselves.

If it is a smear campaign, well I would love to see more Hungarians getting involved and give us more facts from within the country. My aim is not to analyze how democratic Hungary is, rather to make a statement that if the country is indeed slipping, what must Europe do to prevent it.

My view is that this is a case of "Hungarian solutions to a Hungarian problem". For example it does not make sense to restrict the free movement of young people even if the state provides for the education. In Greece the state provides for our education too for free with the only condition that you have to pass the exams. But Greece does not restrict our free movement, just because it gave us education.

 If you can not find a job in Greece, why should you remain unemployed and receive benefits from the state, thus be for longer then dependent to it? I understand of course that the economic and social situation of Hungary is different from that of other states. So it needs to find its own solutions. But it is a member of the EU now and it must comply with some laws. I guess Europe instead of accusing should start understanding and assisting.

If Hungary does not agree with the fee movement of people, then why did they join a Union that encourages it?The problem of course should not be dealt by Hungary alone and that is where I side with Hungary.

There should be some kind of European reaction to the Central and Eastern European countries that all face the same problem of emigration to Western countries. Europe should try harder to harmonize the economies of the continent so there won't be an one way immigration from East to West, but a more even one.

Sorting Hungary's and Europe's economy is the solution in my opinion. When the country's economy will do better then many Hungarians will return, plus more from other EU countries will want to come and live in Hungary because the living standards there will be good.

 Hungary just wants to go it alone. And that is what baffles many and see it as "authoritarian" or a more conservative ethnocentric solution if you like this word better. Time will tell if Orban's policies will be proven wrong or right. For the moment I guess we will just have to watch..

Friday, April 19, 2013

First Croatian European Parliament elections 2013.

On the eve of  Croatia's accession in the European Union on the 1st of July 2013, the country held its first ever European elections. It will send 12 new MEPs in the European Parliament.

Turnout in the election on Sunday (14 April) was just 20.75% – the lowest ever in any election in Croatia, and one of the lowest in any member state in elections to the European Parliament. The center-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Croatia's main opposition party, emerged victorious in elections to the European Parliament, the country's first such poll. The HDZ won six of Croatia's 12 seats in the Parliament, to be occupied from 1 July, when Croatia joins the EU. The HDZ has up to now had three of the 12 observer MEPs.

The Social Democrat party, which heads the national government, will drop from six observers to five MEPs. Although it had led in opinion polls, it apparently struggled to mobilize its supporters. The Labour Party took one seat, while three smaller parties failed to convert their one observer into an MEP. Labour's Nikola Vuljanic is currently a member of the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament. (From the European Voice).

“This result is also a twofold failure for the Socialist/Liberal government because not only did it lose the election but it also ran a very poor information campaign to promote it to the Croatian citizens, which resulted in the very low turn out. The government’s sub-par performance is not the best kick-off for Croatia’s EU accession,” the President of the European People’s Party (EPP),Wilfried Martens stated.

That once again shows the tragic mistakes our governments commit that lead to the indifference of the voters.The turn out for the European Parliament elections is ever decreasing to an alarming rate all over Europe. Croatia is only the latest country that we observe that phenomenon. Other countries that recently joined the EU, also witnessed an apathetic reaction of their voters for their first European elections.

How can we expect to make the EU more democratic if the voters do not see the point of voting? How can we expect to have a successful European integration if the citizens do not want to participate in the process? Perhaps that suits our leaders for now, as they do not have to be held accountable for what is going on in Europe. But the public's indifference is a sign of mistrust, anger, ignorance or apathy for European politics and that can not be good for the long term.

Because in the future it will be harder to convince them for any further reforms that Europe must take in order to progress. And of course, it can lead to a rise of nationalism and populism. If our leaders do not want to engage the citizens with Europe, then populist groups will fill the gap and gain the public's support. If they then want to introduce any new legislation that was agreed with their European counterparts, it will prove more difficult to gain the approval of the citizens.

Unless of course they do not want to give the public a say, or listen to their opinion. In that case they are doing a great job of alienating the people from the European project, thus making the EU an elitist haven!But then please could they stop preaching other regions about democracy?

The other conclusion I have made is that there is not a coordinated and competent Leftist of Center-Left party in Europe any more. People are turning to the Right/Center-Right out of disappointment from the Socialist parties, thus turning Europe more conservative. The party that won the Croatian European elections belongs to the same group that Chancellor Angela Merkel's party belongs to, the EPP (European People's Party).

Then how can the Europeans expect not to have austerity imposed on them, since they vote for conservative parties? The EPP is the most powerful political party in Europe right now. And that is because of the decline of popularity of many Socialist/Social Democratic or Liberal parties, due to the tragic mistakes they made during their leadership.

If the Left can not coordinate itself and regain the trust of the voters, then I am afraid that Europeans will have to be prepared for less social security and benefits. Because the agenda of any conservative party in Europe is a more "Thatcherite", globalized Europe to compete with the rising economies of this world.

I am not preaching against the EPP, I just want to make sure that Europeans know what they are voting for and what to expect for the future. They must be mature to accept the consequences of their actions.

Finally I wish to wholeheartedly welcome Croatia in the European family! I am confident that they will be a great asset to Europe. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mrs Viviane Reding's message to Greece, in Thessaloniki.

On the 22nd of March, the EU Commission's Vice President Mrs Viviane Reding visited Thessaloniki, Greece to speak to its citizens. 

Mrs Reding is a very capable speaker and really engaged in her job and the European project. And I think it was about time that a high ranked EU official reached out to Greece and its people and converse with them directly. 

After all the citizens are going through to stabilize Greece's and Europe's economy and single currency, they surely need to have their voices heard and their questions answered. And a little encouragement and praise for all their sacrifices can go a long way.

This initiative is part of the European Year of Citizens. During this year, Commissioners and other EU officials will be meeting and talking to citizens across Europe. "There are many discussions in Europe about Greece. There are many discussions in Greece about other European countries. There must be more discussions with the Greek people – and not about them. In Europe, we should talk with each other – not about each other," stated Mrs Reding opening her speech.

And how true is that. Our media love to pretend to be experts on knowing what is happening in other countries. Competition to break a story, plus the love of drama and human misery are used just to sell a story. But somewhere in all this effort, our media forget to see the problem objectively and see where a certain country is coming from, understanding the historic and cultural elements that influence the situation.

Also our governments love to underline the problems and failures of other countries, to turn the spot-light away from the national issues their governments fail to deal. Thus using the situation in another country, to sooth the public opinion or turn their anger towards another country or the EU itself. How can we built a European society with these practices? 

Mrs Reding explained though that structural reform is unavoidable in Greece and also in a number of other countries. "The results of structural reforms take time, reforms are indispensable but they cannot produce miracles overnight," she continued. 

These structural reforms, like product and service market liberalization to business environment reforms and the fight against tax evasion, have to overcome bureaucratic delays, vested interests and longstanding policy taboos. "The reforms are for businesses and for the citizens," she stated.

I totally agree with her, reforms were long overdue in Greece and most of Europe. The problem is, that what dominates the Greek media is an absolute cacophony of opinions and ideas, that disorient the Greek public opinion. That is understandable of course. Those who will lose out of the changes, will use all means to make these reforms look unpopular to the public. 

But shouldn't the Greek Government use all democratic means, perhaps just what Mrs Reding is using, to give their people to understand what is happening, why and for how long? A dialogue and a debate is all it takes. Instead of that, we have a blame game between the Greek political elite, but also among the European one. The only victim from this situation is the confidence of the public in the euro and the EU itself.

Mrs Reding claimed that "European countries showed unprecedented solidarity with Greece. Mechanisms of support were set up in record time." She brought the example of countries like Estonia or Slovakia, that even that their minimum wages are around € 300 per month which is substantially lower than in Greece, they also participate in the solidarity effort. "This is solidarity in action," she stated.

Well the support does not come unconditionally. There is an interest on the loans that Greece will receive by its European partners, so in other words everyone will benefit from the Greek crisis. The lenders will receive their money back but with interest, so I do not see why this is used as an argument of "solidarity." The European countries had no choice but to help Greece and other countries in need, as if their economies failed, they would drag every other state with them.
And here Mrs Reding explained that Europe is built on mutual trust and agreements must be respected and complied with. "Solidarity and commitment to reform go together." In other words, the hard pressure that Europe applies on Greece, is to push for reforms that the past Greek governments failed to pass. I totally agree but why must be the people who pay a huge price and not just that, but also be humiliated and used as a scapegoat for Europe's woes? 

It was the business, political and economic elites of Greece that blocked all progress in the country, yet they are getting away from all consequences. And the European elites were doing business with them, so they have also contributed in many circumstances in Greece's difficulties. But the ordinary people are called to pay instead. I will agree with Mrs Reding that populism and shallow nationalism are not the solution to Greece’s problem. 

"The position of Greece as a member of the euro area has been confirmed and reinforced thanks to determination at national and European level," the Commissioner continued.  Doomsayers were proven wrong and those who have bet against Greece have lost. "Greece is and remains an integral part of the euro area family."

I wish I could see the same confidence and excitement that the Commissioner showed, among the ordinary citizens. Most of the people I speak with in Greece and Ireland, are either fed up with the euro or indifferent. Only the business class is still strongly for the euro. And it is not just those two countries. Portugal, Spain, Italy and now Cyprus are witnessing a rising skepticism on the euro. If the crisis continues and most likely it will, as Slovenia is duped to be the next Cyprus, how much longer can we keep the euro enthusiasm?  

"The EU did not cause the crisis," the Commissioner stated. Decades of trade deficits, loss of competitiveness, unsustainable public deficits, debts and instabilities within the financial system were ignored for too long in the Member States before the crisis. The EU provides collective strength to address them together. "The EU is part of the solution.," Mrs Reding said. 

It is absolutely true that the EU, or the euro did not created the crisis. Our national governments did, so they are part of the problem. But now they got to be part of the solution. How can we get to a solution while Europe is being governed by intergovernmentalism, meaning that our governments are the ones who in the end, agree between them the future of our continent. The same governments who allowed all the terrible mistakes to happen and neglected to see the problems.

Mrs Reding claimed that growth and employment will come through reforms. A vast program of structural reform is under way and Greece is making progress, but further progress is required. Deep changes have to occur in a short period of time."I am aware that it is a painful process. The courageous efforts of today will create the growth and jobs of tomorrow," she stated.

The reforms will make citizens’ and companies' lives easier. Drastic reforms in the business environment and how businesses are run or set up in the country. The promotion of mediation as part of the judicial reforms needed by Greece will help parties to settle their dispute without clogging up the court system. 

Part of this is the reform of the judiciary and of the tax system and making sure that it is fair, transparent and efficient and that people pay their taxes. In this context, the completion of the land registry, to which the European Commission gives support, is essential to allow fair tax collection. 

The EU helps Greece to deploy the Structural Funds: Regional policy is an investment policy. EU funds are currently Greece’s main instrument for public investment. Cohesion policy and other EU instruments should be used to unlock SME financing: jobs and growth will be created by the Greek private sector, in particular by innovative SMEs.

Europe is making every effort to ensure that Greece can deploy its Structural Funds quickly and effectively where the have the best impact. EU cohesion funding for 2007-2013 is € 20 billion. The Commission has drawn a list of 181 strategic priority projects with the Greek authorities totalling € 11,5 billion in key areas, from energy pipelines to restoring monuments.

The EU is helping to address youth unemployment: 60% of young Greeks are out of work. The EU is contributing by more than € 500 million to the action plan of the Greek government to strengthen youth employment and entrepreneurship. 

The EU is helping people to get primary health care services: EU funds will co-finance free access to doctors, medical examinations, pharmaceutical treatment and hospital treatment for unemployed and uninsured citizens. This will include free vaccinations for children.

Efforts are bearing first fruits: Greece is now at a turning point. Recovery is expected in the course of 2014. Foreign investors from Europe and outside Europe start to show interest in Greece. But reforms need to continue. Today the EU Commission released a statement saying the Greece will return to growth in 2014. Has Greece made it through the storm and what does the future hold for the country and the EU?

I really look forward to see all the above work come into fruition, but for the moment every time I speak with friends and family in Greece, they are totally unaware of these reforms taking place. The Greek Government and media are just happy to divide the Greek public opinion, in order to be easier for them to proceed with the harsh austerity that Europe is imposing on Greece. 

That is not the way to proceed with reforms. I believe that if the Greek public was made aware of all that Mrs Reding mentioned in her speech, they would have more patience and courage to go through this painful period. But all they witness are more scandals and corruption, inequality and injustice. Plus all the slander coming from other European nations. How can anyone expect them to accept everything that their government is making them go through? 

"Greece and the Greek people have enormous qualities: a cultural richness which is the envy of the world, a capacity for dynamism and creativity that has been demonstrated through the ages, the most beautiful country in Europe. The Greek people have to be confident about their future and work hard collectively to ensure a good future for the future generations," Mrs Reding concluded. 

You may read the full report on Mrs. Reding's speech here:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Celtic Tiger for some, but a kitten for most?

Ireland is in recent years engulfed by the crisis in the euro-zone that affects many other European countries. The country went from being one of the shining examples in the EU, to receiving an EU/IMF bail-out loan to avoid bankruptcy.

Many new EU states from Eastern Europe aspired to become “new little Irelands,” but perhaps all was not what it seemed during the Celtic Tiger booming years. Not everyone benefited equally and the surge of wealth revealed the fragmentation of the Irish society. This era also revealed the reality and constant changes of the Irish political life, ideology and mentality.

With the Irish economy booming during the past decade, it seems incredible that just twenty years ago the country was in a state of economic collapse. (1) That did not happen overnight. Ireland had to go through a series of transformations and reforms, in order to reap the benefits of its economic “Tiger”. But some of them eventually lead to alteration of its social structure and even contributed to its economy’s eventual demise.

During the ‘40s Ireland introduced control by professional management through the County Management Act. So County managers had the incentive to build on the strengths of local communities and probably had better prospects in encouraging local development. (2)

Once professional management was introduced into local government, it was reasonable to assume that this structure would be used to make the administration more responsive to local needs. Instead, the central government progressively reduced the powers of local government over the succeeding years. (2)

The local role was diminished and the whole drift of policy was towards centralization. There it developed a political system, welfare oriented, centralized, bureaucratic and controlled by competition among highly organized elites. For the ordinary citizen, they were remote, distant and impersonal. (3)

So the politics of this democratic system are above all the politics of compromise, adjustment, negotiation and bargaining. Carried out by professional and quasi-professional leaders who constitute only a small part of the total citizen body. Politics that is un-ideological and even “anti-ideologic.” (3)

This system and its ethos, marginalizes small, rural and local communities. If we look at the uneven spread of wealth among Ireland’s counties and also its social groups, then we see clearly that the country is being governed by a form of elitism.

County Donegal for example never saw the development that Dublin had and now is one of the worse hit regions in Ireland by the crisis. Unemployment there is far higher than many other counties and emigration is very common.

So having first failed to use local administration as a means of bringing democracy down to grassroots level, the centralization of the Irish government led in fact to a style of decision making that became removed from democratic control. (3)

In turn, this has led to a decline in the parliament’s ability to be an effective critic of policy. The British style Cabinet government belittles the role of the elected representative. Policy is made and public affairs are decided by ministers and their civil service advisers. Always after consultation with the spokespersons of organized groups, appropriate to the matter under review.  (3)

All of this is a long way from the people’s elected representative or from the representative assembly. Clearly, Ireland’s politicians do not appear to believe in the participation of the people in the making or influencing of decisions that affect their lives. For them, community empowerment is a very delicate matter.  (3)

But Ireland is not a sovereign nation anymore. Since it joined the EU, it has willingly given up some of its sovereignty to be part of this club. And with the help of Europe and foreign investments from the USA, its multinational companies and policies that favored the global capitalist system, Ireland became one of the most globalized economies in the world.

How have this contributed to the country’s transformation? Globalization means that many economic and cultural activities are increasingly played out in the world as a single place, rather than within national borders. While the nation state is still a very viable entity, power is increasingly placed in the hands of unelected policy-makers. (4)

In other words, all decisions in Ireland are not taken always according to the Irish people’s wishes or needs. Some are taken with the cooperation or compromise of the Irish elites with the European or global ones. The purpose of course is to maintain the current economic, corporatism and economic system that has been ruling our planet progressively since WW2.

After the war, we have seen the development of an international order, initially under US hegemony. Firstly the creation of an international monetary system based upon the dollar, enabled the movement and profits and funds to a greater frequency than direct investment. (5)

Secondly the post-war settlement in Europe, a politically imposed one based on Marshall Aid and NATO, tied Western Europe to the USA. (5) Ireland, in order to get access to financial aid through the Marshall plan, had to reform and open its economy to foreign investment.

But inviting foreign investment is problematic, because it removes a crucial component of national ideology, namely that the people control their economy. (5) Ireland’s open economy and reforms, lead to the industrialization of the former conservative and farming country. Its supporters utilize the frameworks of such transformation from a “modernization “or “development” theory. (6)

However, from analyses produced by Marxists and radicals, there is a danger that the banalities of the bourgeois thought will be replaced with an equal problematic form of Marxist left-wing nationalism. That treats Ireland as an extension of the world capitalist system and the Irish state as the instrument of a “comparador” bourgeoisie, in direct alliance with foreign capital. (6)  

And that has happened with the dominion of the Fianna Fail party in the Irish politics for the past decades. They are a traditionally “leftist” populist party, which was the main actor in Ireland’s rise to prominence, but also its decline.

With policies that helped the perpetuation of their dominance in Irish politics, they have contributed to the creation of a “bubble” economy. They have overspent on social security policies to maintain the status quo of the various Irish classes. But their dependence on foreign investment to fund their spending left the country also vulnerable, to the global economy, the markets and their volatility.

To achieve foreign investment they had to end national protectionism. By cutting the state-workers link and with external dependent industrialization, they cold fragment the workers from one another. (7) Thus Ireland had never a strong Union organization and presence, especially on the private sector.

According to Nicos Poulantzas, a Greek Marxist political sociologist, the growth of direct foreign investment in the dependent areas of Europe, such as Greece and Spain, has been to stimulate the development of what he terms “an internal bourgeoisie.” (8)

In his work Poulantzas presumes that the state is constantly involved in the negotiation of compromise with secondary class elements, and in the forging of hegemonic strategies, through which the rule of capital may be retained. The state realizes this mission through its capacity to organize and unify the dominant power bloc, by permanently dividing the dominated classes. (9)

That is evident in the Irish political reality. The State is constantly negotiating certain agreements with the unions, like in the case of the Croke Park Agreement. It is an agreement between the Irish Government and various public sector unions. Against a background of layoffs and pay cuts in the private sector, the government agreed not to impose public sector layoffs or further public sector pay cuts. (10)

In return the public sector unions agreed to call no industrial action, and to cooperate on wide scale reforms of the public sector aimed at increasing efficiency. The Irish government is now looking to amend what has been agreed, as it is looking to cut the salaries of the public servants. (10)

For the elitists, real decision making power will always be concentrated in the hands of a small number of political decision makers. And they will be directing the actions of a large scale bureaucracy to achieve that. (11)

Elitism, which was revived around the turn of the 20th century by mainly European critics, has challenged the optimistic expectations about a participatory democracy, which has been expressed by socialists and liberal thinkers in during the previous century.  (12)

The German theorist Robert Michels wrote of an “iron law of oligarchy.” Under which effective decision-making power in any large scale organization would always come to rest with a small elite group, to the expense of all rank-and-file members. (12)

In Ireland that is evident. A small group of rich people made a fortune out of the Celtic Tiger years. Bankers, property developers and various social partners were the ones who benefited the most, when immigrants, the poorer classes of the Irish society, the workers, the disabled and pensioners were the losers.

It is clear that the discourse in Irish politics rarely acknowledges its neo-liberal ideological content. It is also obvious that social partnerships were not about democracy. The institutional arrangements to deepen democracy, did not work for it. (13)

When the Fianna Fail government introduced social partnership in 1987, it was not long to realize that it was giving business virtually anything it asked for. Like low corporation and capital taxes, low social insurance contributions and a virtually unregulated labor market. (13)

Community and the voluntary sector became a tool of welfare provision, rather than developmental active citizenship. The ability and voice of the civil society to criticize policy and lobby for social change were muted. (13)

So while the Marxists believe that the state is displaced expression of a society divided by class and exploitation, the neo-liberal thinkers see the modern state as an increasingly domineering and malign influence, imposing itself upon society. (14)

They echo the fear that has been voiced by Hobbes, that the modern state would come to be so powerful and so authoritative that it would crush all freedom and autonomy in civil society. The rise of the neo-liberalism was the consequence of the pursuit by parties of all persuasions of a broadly social democratic agenda. (14)

In this agenda the state intervened ever more extensively in society, to seek to increase levels of economic activity, to redistribute economic growth and to underwrite the welfare status of its citizens. States extended their policies into more areas of social life, including the “intimate” sphere of the family. The more they intervened, the greater the resources it had to extract from the society. (14)

And so after the accumulation of failed government interventions and the raising of the resources to fund them triggered a process of government overload. States were extracting more and more resources from society, as to impose their unsuccessful agenda of reforms upon it. (15)

Ireland has a passive citizenry with relatively a low voter turnout and low levels of political party membership. There is a dominance of multinational capital over the weakened trade union movement, whose base of support was more and more restricted to public sector workers. On the contrary, there is an increasing rising of the international capitalist class. (13)

The Irish political elite allowed the country’s economy to inflate and behaved selfishly. The government, following the global trend of absolute freedom and independence of the banks, did not intervened in the country’s financial system. The Central Bank of Ireland acted irresponsibly and did not make any effort in regulating the banks, thus not doing the job they were appointed to do.

The Irish government was then forced to make the tax payers to pay for their mistakes and those of the bankers. But this model is not confined in Ireland only. It benefits transnational economic and financial elites and in fact, empowered by them. What will the future of the country be and can any real reform take place, when the inequality is promoted and institutionalized by the Irish government itself?

1)      Why Ireland’s economic boom is no miracle. By Brian Beary. The Globalist. (
2)      Ask not for whom the Tiger roars. Fintan Tallon. Oak Tree Press, Dublin.2000. Page No 18.
3)      Ask not for whom the Tiger roars. Fintan Tallon. Oak Tree Press, Dublin.2000. Page No 19.
4)      What did we do right? Michael J. O’Sullivan and Rory Miller. Blackhall Publications. 2010. Page 8-9.
5)      Ireland: divided nation, divided class. Austen Morgan and Bob Purdie. Ink Links. 1979. Page 55.
6)      Ireland: divided nation, divided class. Austen Morgan and Bob Purdie. Ink Links. 1979. Page 59.
7)      Ireland: divided nation, divided class. Austen Morgan and Bob Purdie. Ink Links. 1979. Page 66.
8)      Ireland: divided nation, divided class. Austen Morgan and Bob Purdie. Ink Links. 1979. Page 67.
9)      The Modern State. Christopher Pierson. 2nd edition. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. 2000. Page 62.
10)  Croke Park Agreement. The Wikipedia. (
11)  The Modern State. Christopher Pierson. 2nd edition. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. 2000. Page 68.
12)  The Modern State. Christopher Pierson. 2nd edition. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. 2000. Page 67.
13)  Dr. Heikki A. O. Laiho, 2013 notes, on Exploring Political issues. DBS. Based on Kirby and Murphy.
14)  The Modern State. Christopher Pierson. 2nd edition. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. 2000. Page 63.
15)  The Modern State. Christopher Pierson. 2nd edition. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. 2000. Page 64.