‘You can vote but you cannot choose’: Democracy and the Sovereign Debt Crisis in the Eurozone

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Instituto Carlos III - Juan March de Ciencias Sociales (IC3JM)
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The objective of this paper is to analyze the alleged unfolding of ‘democracy without choices’ in Europe and its consequences for the quality of national democracies, particularly those of the Eurozone periphery (GIIPS – Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain). The argument is, in a nutshell, that the lack of responsiveness of GIIPS national Governments to their respective national constituencies is the reverse of the medal of an excess of responsiveness in core Euro countries, particularly Germany. Governments are trapped between the pressure to be responsive at home and the need to be responsible to their European partners and the European project. If the trade-off of all democratic politics is between responsiveness and responsibility, Euro core countries have clearly opted for responsiveness (to domestic constituencies) and Eurozone peripheral countries have been forced to be responsible (towards their EU partners and the EU as a whole). As a result, the 2008 financial crisis has led to a three-fold breach inside the EU between core and periphery concerning the pace of economic recovery, the degrees of governmental autonomy and, most important of all, democratic legitimacy. Eurozone peripheral countries are at the losing side of this three-fold breach.
Eurozone, GIIPS, Euro periphery, Euro core, Responsiveness, Responsibility, Unión Europea
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