austerity

In what marks a significant shift in the balance of European politics, in the final round presidential election on May 6, Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande defeated right-wing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy of the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement by almost 52% to 48%.

Hollande is France's first president from the social democratic Socialist Party in France in 17 years. Sarkozy is the first president since 1981 not to win a second term.

Compared with a southern Europe stricken by ever-rising unemployment and government attacks on social welfare and democratic rights, Luxembourg can feel as if it is on another, much more pleasant, planet.

The richest country in Europe ― with Gross Domestic Product per capita at least 30% higher than that of the US, unemployment at 5.9% and the second-lowest public sector debt to GDP ratio ― this most important financial centre after London’s City would seem to be floating above the crisis.

“Right Greece, up against that wall over there. Here, put that blindfold on... what’s that? No you can’t have a last fucking cigarette, you are too broke. You flogged your last pack off to Goldman Sachs.”

If the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was honest, this is how its press releases would read when describing the brutal austerity the “troika” of the IMF, European Union and European Central Bank demands from Greece in return for funds to stop the country going bankrupt.

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