Europe on the Boil

With the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis intensifying, and people’s anger on the rise against austerity measures imposed by the IMF-World Bank, Europe’ ruling classes are struggling to cope. The survival of the Eurozone (the economic and monetary union of 17 EU countries that have Euro as a common currency) has fallen in crisis, with multiple countries needing bailouts. Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel described the ongoing Eurozone crisis as Europe’s “toughest hour since World War II.” Some countries like Greece and Italy, are trying the recipe of a change of guard, ushering in Governments headed by technocrats, in a desperate bid to stem the crisis. But these measures are doing little to contain or placate people’s anger, which has got a boost in the arm from the global Occupy climate.
Bankers’ Government in Italy
In Italy, the centre-right Government headed by the flamboyant and controversial media mogul Silvio Berlusconi was forced to step down in the wake of the stubborn economic crisis. Its place has been taken by a new government headed by (unelected) technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti, with a Cabinet comprising entirely of unelected ‘expert’ academic economists, military men, diplomats, and CEOs including the CEO of Italy’s biggest retail bank as Industry Minister. Monti has said that he enjoys the confidence of political leaders who assured him that ‘that the non-presence of politicians in the government would help it.’ But on the very day the Government faced a vote of confidence in Parliament (17 November), thousands of protestors hit the streets across Italy against what they called the ‘Bankers’ Government.’      
Students clashed with police in the main financial centre, Milan, as they tried to march towards Bocconi University over which PM Monti presides. Remaining unimpressed by Monti’s assurance that austerity measures would be balanced by ‘social fairness’, protestors in Rome paralysed the city centre.
Protests Continue in Greece
On 17 November every year, students hold a protest march in Athens to the US embassy to commemorate the bloody suppression of a student uprising by a military dictatorship backed by the US. This year, people’s resistance to austerity measures swelled the ranks of the protestors, with 7000 marching in defiance of tear gas attacks by police. On the same day, a new coalition government headed by technocrat PM Lucas Papademos won a confidence vote in Parliament.
For the past three years, Greece has been suffering a severe debt crisis, recession and record unemployment. Greece opted for a bailout from IMF which came with austerity measures attached. Fund-Bank institutions and European leaders are also trying to intervene with new bailouts to resolve the Greek crisis. The new government faces the challenge of passing a new austerity budget and implement the sweeping privatisation packages that Greece has pledged, in the face of immense public resentment.

The new Governments in Italy and Greece may have won confidence votes in Parliament – but it is clear that they are very far from enjoying the confidence of the public, which is determined to fight the Governments of bankers that are imposing hardships on the people.