Tag Archives: elections

Why do we (Europeans) vote in Euro elections?

nikos_konstandarasMr. Nikos Konstandaras is managing editor and a columnist of Kathimerini, the leading Greek morning daily.
He is also a contributor to The BusinessThinker.com

This editorial has appeared in elathimerini.com as well-

On last Thursday the British and Dutch voted. The next day voters went to the polls in Ireland and the Czech Republic, yesterday, Saturday, Saturday in Latvia,
Malta and Slovakia. Today, Sunday, the rest of the EU will vote. In the 28 member states, 400 million citizens are eligible to vote for 751 members of the European
Parliament, who will, in turn, elect the new president of the European Commission. This is the eighth such vote since 1979. But this time there is a sense that the
Union is in decline that it is losing in economic and strategic significance. Even so, the electoral debate in each country focused on domestic issues. Very often
those issues stemmed from EU membership, but the elections remained stuck on local problems, not on EU-wide solutions.

Throughout the EU people worry about where the EU is headed. The years of crisis showed up weaknesses in the bloc’s construction. This created
the need and the opportunity for solutions through the adoption of new mechanisms and institutions. Precious time was lost, as was the even more
precious sense that Europe was the home in which we could all feel safe. However much the Greeks may have been to blame for their problems, they
were not the only culprits in the EU. For the good of all, Europe should have shown that its grand construction was not in danger because one of its
rooms had caught fire. “Personifying” the crisis, presenting Greece as a scapegoat and a “unique case,” renewed old enmities and ethnic stereotypes.
It sowed division. In the markets, Europe appeared as weak as its weakest member. It abdicated the power and the responsibility that it would have
had if it functioned as a single force, with the world’s largest economy (with a combined GDP of 13 trillion euros in 2012), with 500 million citizens
constituting the wealthiest and best-educated group of people the world has known. Instead, the EU found itself on the brink of losing its common
currency. Many people felt threatened by strangers – either immigrants or citizens of other countries who needed their support. Some were angered
because they were asked to help, others because they lost benefits and security.

The debt crisis is one of many important issues. How can developed countries continue to provide their citizens with everything to which they are
accustomed when the global economy has made them uncompetitive? How can each country gain the most from being in the EU when the EU does
not project its power because each member acts according to its own narrow interests? When voters reject austerity and reforms because they consider
them unjust, how do economies become more competitive? Is the solution to be found in reducing social security in Europe or should we demand that
competitor countries take equal care of their own citizens?

The problems remain unsolved and can be dealt with only at the EU level. Europe will be saved only if the serious debate begins within the next
European Parliament – the one that will represent powerful centrifugal forces

 

President Obama and the November Presidential Election

Dr. John Psarouthakis, Executive Editor of www.BusinessThinker.com, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Founder and former CEO, JPIndusries, Inc., a Fortune 500 industrial corporation

President Obama is going into history as the first African American elected to the presidency of USA. However, he might also go into history as a one term president because of the economy travails, and lack of leadership to bring the country together as he so eloquently stated of his belief of this country in his 2004 DNC keynote speech. Instead he has, in my opinion, become a polarizing force in the political spectrum of the country. He has missed the opportunity to be a Statesman. He has remained a traditional politician when the country needed a leader to unify the people and bring us out of a collapsing economy and two wars.

He has developed an atmosphere of uncertainty with his approach of decision making. Even the most important legislation of his administration to date, Health Care Law, he delegated the initiative to former Speaker Pelosi until it looked doubtful it will pass. He then got involved in what many called “Chicago politics” to pass the bill.

The voters in 2008 were “hungry” for a change. They did not demand of the candidates to spell out the change they promised. Here we are four years later and we continue to deal with old style politics.

Jobs

Pres. Obama seems unable to get a firm grip on the tough issue-the economy. His ideological bent for ever bigger government has blocked his thinking on how this country’s economy has grown and how jobs are created in the private sector. When the 25 million people who are unemployed or cannot find full time work will they find a full time job? Does our president understand what is going on? Blaming others here or overseas does not really define the problem and therefore improvement of the economic situation is not anywhere near!

Technology is eliminating jobs

Tellers, phone operators, stock-brokers, stock-traders: These jobs are nearly extinct. Since 2007, the New York Stock Exchange has eliminated 1,000 jobs. And when was the last time you spoke to a travel agent? Nearly all of them have been displaced by technology and the Web. Librarians can’t find 36,000 results in 0.14 seconds, as Google can.

Doctors are under fire as well, from computer imaging that looks inside of us and from Computer Aided Diagnosis, which looks for patterns in X-rays to identify breast cancer and other diseases more cheaply and effectively than radiologists do. Other than barbers, no jobs are safe.

But be warned the USA economy is incredibly dynamic, and there is no quick fix for job creation when so much technology-driven job destruction is taking place. Fortunately, history shows that labor-saving machines haven’t decreased overall employment even when they have made certain jobs obsolete. Ultimately the economic growth created by new jobs always overwhelms the drag from jobs destroyed—if policy makers let it happen.

Politics

The inexperienced officials around the President have managed the crisis as an exercise in political maneuvering to position the President for the election in November.

Some believed that President Obama’s personality and intelligence alone would be enough to convince and appease the voters. Some claim that the administration has won society’s silent consent. However, the government’s problem is not so much the frustration or the reactions from the various sections of our society but the uncertainty that is now eroding our confidence in investing in our economy. It appears we are moving an ever bigger government and more of a well-fare state
The Obama administration seems ineffective, but that should hardly come as a surprise since President Obama had no prior executive experience of any kind! He has lost touch with a great part of the society and he looks more and more as a spent political force. But in politics surprises are the norm!

This brilliant person with extensive academic education – a graduate of Harvard Law School and editor of the School’s Law Review – and an unusually powerful speaker has shrunk and turned into an ordinary politician.

The fact is that Obama inherited a deep financial crisis; the worse since the Great Depression. However, it is also a fact that instead of focusing his attention on handling the crisis – and primarily focusing to create an environment for entrepreneurial investments in the private sector of our economy–forming new jobs – he lost valuable time and wasted many political resources on his health care reform bill, and trying to convince us all that the previous administration continues to be at fault. Well if the previous administration had done a better job most likely senator McCain would have been elected. President Obama was elected because he promised to change things for the better people believed and trusted him to do so. He has not succeeded yet.

For me, the most essential of Obama’s problems is that after almost four years as president, there are still few people who know what he is thinking, what he represents, and what he believes. Polls show that most Americans like him and trust him. But they don’t think that he is capable of fixing the economy.

The keys to this election are the economic issues, and primarily the unemployment figures, but also personal likeability is turning out to be a factor.

(The recent) elections: Democracy and the fiscal compact

Professor Francesco Daveri is a Professor of Economics at the University of Parma. He also teaches Macroeconomics in the MBA Program of Bocconi University in Milan, where he also taught Applied Growth in the Master in Economics and the PhD programme.

This article is republished from and in accordance with the policy of  “VoxEU.org

Voters in France, Greece, Italy, and Germany rewarded politicians who opposed austerity. This column argues that attempts to fulfill campaign promises will run up against a hard constraint. The countries whose voters are calling for looser fiscal policies are those where public spending rose fastest since the birth of the euro. The only way out of today’s difficulties is to use the flexibility already in the fiscal compact and continue with bold implementation of the economic reforms that are under way.

Sunday 6 May 2012 was Europe’s “Super Sunday” of elections:

  • The French presidential election gave the victory to Francois Hollande.
  • Parliamentary elections have left Greece without a coalition capable of governing.
  • There were local elections in Germany and Italy.

All these showed similar results.

With Europe in recession, voters rewarded those who oppose budget cuts. But the turnaround of budgetary policies advocated by the majority of voters runs up against an important constraint. The nations where voters demand lower taxes are those in which public spending has risen more in the last ten years. The only way out of today’s difficulties is the bold implementation of economic reforms. This has started in many countries, but it must continue.

Continue reading (The recent) elections: Democracy and the fiscal compact