Quite simply, democracy is having its say. The French soon may elect a left-wing candidate who, in essence, wants to exempt France from fiscal rules and place more fiscal risk on Germany. The Dutch can no longer form a governmental consensus on the budget. The Irish will be putting the fiscal compact up for a referendum, and the Greeks are holding an election in May. Even in Germany there could be problems holding together the ruling coalition.
In general, voters are unwilling to give up their say over policy, or to regard the European Union or euro zone as necessarily superior to national interests. When it comes to the specifics, it appears increasingly likely that at least one national electorate will pull the plug on the entire set of bailouts and austerity programs.
I’m a little surprised that Greece and Spain have put up with the pain the eurozone is dishing out. But the voters haven’t had their say — indeed, eurocrats are doing what they can to keep the electorate out of things — and it’s not a stable situation.
I am not optimistic about the euro, or the effects it will have on the European Union. Still, it is very difficult to see what’s ahead of us.