Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Democracy is at stake, not just the euro

Prof. Sen argues  rightly that it is not just the euro but Europe's democracy which is at stake ("The Guardian" (June 22, 2011). He writes : "Europe has led the world in the practice of democracy. It is therefore worrying that the dangers to democratic governance today, coming through the back door of financial priority, are not receiving the attention they should. There are profound issues to be faced about how Europe's democratic governance could be undermined by the hugely heightened role of financial institutions and rating agencies, which now lord it freely over parts of Europe's political terrain." 
His comment is highly pertinent.  We know from the Greek experience, the rating agencies act like a 'deus ex machina'- of course, they don't hold the truth but they behave as if they were right; they just act to make things happen as they want. This is an aggression against democratically elected governments and their people; if we cannot regulate them, they should be prosecuted, given their record of economic disasters !
In the same vein, G.Amato and Guy Verhofstadt  (FT 3 July) point out that 'Europe is losing a war between its elected governments and unelected rating agencies. Governments are trying to govern, but the rating agencies still rule". The issue is how to govern rather than let the rating agencies rule. This is why Europe needs an ambitious plan to tackle the debt crisis by strengthening existing institutions and creating solidarity among its members.  
In 1941, while they were prisoners on the Italian island of Ventotene, Altiero Spinelli, Eugenio Colorni and Ernesto Rossi wrote the famous Ventotene Manifesto where they called for a 'free and unite Europe'.  The Milan Declaration which followed in 1943, was the  founding act of the European Federalist Movement .  The Manifesto encouraged a federation of European states, which was meant to keep the countries of Europe close, thus preventing war. We should not forget that people gave their lives for freedom and justice. This is why we should fight and resist against the  financial and economic powers which are undermining the bases of our democracies.  We know historically what this meant for Europe!

See Sen's article : It isn't just the euro. Europe's democracy itself is at stake

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