Skip to content

Category archive for: Austerity

Just a reminder that Spain still doesn’t have a government

Written by Paul Kennedy.

There appears to be little chance of Spain’s political stalemate being broken any time soon. Just listen to the divisive tone of parliamentary debates held in the first week of March – two-and-a-half-months after a national election failed to deliver a government.

Pedro Sánchez, leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) had sought to form a coalition government with the centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) Party. He secured the backing of his own party and his proposed coalition partner but failed to get enough support from other MPs following heated debate in the chamber. Continue reading Just a reminder that Spain still doesn’t have a government

Is Portugal a poster child for austerity?

Written by Jamie Jordan.

Austerity works. That’s the message of Pedro Passos Coelho, the Portuguese prime minister, to voters. After three years of recession, Portugal registered a return to growth of 0.9% in 2014, exited its three-year bailout and the economy is projected to expand a further 1.6% in 2015 and 1.8% in 2016.

Portugal’s growth figures have led to the country being labelled a “star pupil” of the eurozone crisis. Advocates say the country demonstrates how the formula of “expansionary austerity” can work if prescriptions are followed closely. And the current coalition argues that their successful implementation of austerity policies and structural reforms have moved the Portuguese economy from an import-led to an export-led model. Economic growth registered recently is considered a direct product of this. Continue reading Is Portugal a poster child for austerity?

Austerity: Portugal is on a different path to Greece and Spain – here’s why

Written by Jamie Jordan.

There is an air of calm in Portugal. Like Greece and Spain, Portugal was bailed out by international creditors and underwent austerity measures that included tax hikes and salary cuts across the public sector. But the political effect of this has been starkly different.

Greece has had five general elections in the past six years and seen the rise of the left-wing, anti-austerity Syriza party. Spain too has seen a surge in popularity of the ideologically-similar Podemos. Portugal, meanwhile, has enjoyed significant continuity.

As the country’s October 4 general election approaches, the centre-right ruling coalition of the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats, which has overseen the implementation of austerity and structural reform, has begun to stretch out ahead in opinion polls over the main opposition centre-left Socialist Party. This has been a huge turnaround since January when the Socialist Party had a significant lead. Continue reading Austerity: Portugal is on a different path to Greece and Spain – here’s why

Alternatives to privatising public services

Written by Andreas Bieler.

‘What we are for is equally important as what we are against’, declared Dexter Whitfield in his presentation ‘Capitalist dynamics reconfiguring the state: alternatives to privatising public services’ to a packed audience at Nottingham University on Wednesday, 16 September. Hence, when contesting privatisation of public services, it is not enough simply to resist these processes. It is also necessary to put forward concrete alternatives of how to organise and deliver these services differently from within the public sector. In this post, I will summarise some of the key points of the presentation, which was jointly organised by the Bertrand Russel Peace Foundation, the local University and College Union association and the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice. Continue reading Alternatives to privatising public services

Life under austerity shows why Syriza are fighting it so hard

by Jamie Jordan.

Greece has been a key talking point at the G7 summit of economic powers. The current impasse in negotiations between the Syriza-led government and the country’s creditors comes down to some significant differences in opinion over austerity. While Angela Merkel says time is running out for Greece to accept the reforms required for its bailout funds, Syriza continue to question conditions that require cuts to the country’s pensions, civil service and VAT reform.

Alexis Tsipras’s firm stance against austerity has led to the Greek government being labelled as intransigent throughout negotiations. The analogy that has become common is that Greece is a patient that refuses to take its medicine. But the irony of this is that the country’s healthcare system has borne the brunt of austerity measures – the extent of which has become evident to me while carrying out my PhD fieldwork, focusing on the restructuring taking place to Greece’s political economy and welfare state.

Continue reading Life under austerity shows why Syriza are fighting it so hard

Austerity and Resistance: Greece in the Eurozone crisis

By Andreas Bieler and Jamie Jordan.

Concerns over Greece’s ability to pay back its debt continue unabated, with one crisis meeting taking place in Brussels after another. While the media focuses on Greece’s ability to meet the conditions by the European Union, in this post we will have another look at some of the key underlying dynamics of the crisis.

It is often argued in the media that citizens of richer countries would now have to pay for the ‘profligacy’ of citizens from indebted countries. Cultural arguments of apparently ‘lazy Greek’ workers as the cause of the crisis are put forward despite the fact that Greek workers are amongst those who work the most hours in Europe (McDonald 2012). Rather than the result of Greeks living above their means, however, the crisis is a reflection of the highly uneven European political economy. While Germany and other countries of the European core have pursued a growth strategy based on exports, countries in the European periphery including Greece followed a strategy of demand-led growth often financed with loans from abroad. Nevertheless, it would be wrong simply to blame the Greeks for this situation. The super profits resulting from German export success needed new points of investment to generate more profits and state bonds of peripheral countries seemed to be the ideal investment opportunity with guaranteed profits, backed by sovereign states. In a way, Germany has recycled its profits in the form of lending to peripheral countries. In turn, these credits to the periphery were used to purchase more goods in the core ensuring a continuation of the German export success. Hence, the recurrent distinction between credit- and export-led economies is misleading. Firms in core countries would not have been able to pursue export-led growth strategies, if global aggregate demand had not been supported by the real estate and stock market bubbles that occurred in the periphery as a result of lending. German export success, in other words, depended on Greece’s increasing indebtedness.

Continue reading Austerity and Resistance: Greece in the Eurozone crisis

Analysing exploitation and resistance: the centrality of class struggle.

By Andreas Bieler 

In my recent article ‘Transnational Labour Solidarity in (the) Crisis’, published in the Global Labour Journal and freely downloadable here, I assert three key claims: (1) the importance of a historical materialist approach to analyse exploitation and resistance; (2) the significance of understanding the structuring conditions of global capitalism; and (3) the centrality of class struggle defined broadly. In this post, I will provide an overview of the main claims.

Continue reading Analysing exploitation and resistance: the centrality of class struggle.