Yves here. Some of you found a London Review of Books article that I flagged over the weekend, on corruption in Europe and how the US and IMF had succeeded in influencing Italian politics far more widely than is widely recognized, to be a bit of a slog. Ilargi covers some of this terrain in his latest post.
By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor-in-chief of The Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth
There are two elections coming up this week that have the potential to shake up a lot of things, not least of all the global financial markets, both in their own way and for their own reasons. First of all, the May 22-25 European parliament elections, which as far as I’m concerned should simply be declared illegal in at least a few of the 28 EU member countries they’re held in. I find it unbelievable, and I even tend to find it scary, that not one respected member of the respected press has paid any attention to the story that emerged during the course of last week and that I described this way on Friday:
First, there was a passage from Tim Geithner’s new book. Then, there was a 3-part series ‘How The Euro Was Saved’ by Peter Spiegel for the Financial Times. Together, they deliver the following storyline: EU leaders refused to let Greece have a referendum on its bail-out, and toppled PM Papandreou to kill it. Then, afraid that Italian PM Berlusconi would make good on his threat to return to the lira if they stuck to their bail-out conditions, they toppled him. What this means to Europeans is that if they elect a government for their country, and it subsequently falls out of favor with Brussels, they can expect to see it overthrown, and likely have it replaced by a technocrat handpicked by the EU leadership (as happened in Greece and Italy). Ergo: Europe is not a democracy, and pretending otherwise is foolish. Democratic elections in member states are merely empty lip service exercises, because on important topics governments of member states have no say.
In fact, the only journalist who did pick up on it was Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, also on Friday, and while I understand people’s reservations concerning Ambrose, please don’t forget this: as it became known that the EU leadership has no scruples when it comes to bringing down elected governments of member states, AEP was the only one writing for the mainstream media who brought this ultimate betrayal of European democracy, and hence of all European voters, to light.
The revelations about EMU skulduggery are coming thick and fast. Tim Geithner recounts in his book Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises just how far the EU elites are willing to go to save the euro, even if it means toppling elected leaders and eviscerating Europe’s sovereign parliaments. The former US Treasury Secretary says that EU officials approached him in the white heat of the EMU crisis in November 2011 with a plan to overthrow Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s elected leader. “They wanted us to refuse to back IMF loans to Italy as long as he refused to go,” he writes. Geithner told them this was unthinkable. The US could not misuse the machinery of the IMF to settle political disputes in this way. “We can’t have his blood on our hands”.
This concurs with what we knew at the time about the backroom manoeuvres, and the action in the bond markets. It is a constitutional scandal of the first order. These officials decided for themselves that the sanctity of monetary union entitled them to overrule the parliamentary process, that means justify the end. It is the definition of a monetary dictatorship. Mr Berlusconi has demanded a parliamentary inquiry. “It’s a clear violation of democratic rules and an assault on the sovereignty of our country. The plot is an extremely serious news which confirms what I’ve been saying for a long time,” he said.
This is no trifling matter, even though one may get that idea because of the deafening silence we’ve been blinded with so far on this topic. As I write, it scares me anew. In three days, elections begin for a region that holds 500 million people. But there is a tiny group, largely unelected, in Europe’s capital Brussels, that find they have the moral right to handpick their favorites and topple non-favorites who were elected in democratic elections. If it reminds me of one thing, it’s how Salvador Allende lost the power his people voted him into, and lost his life, in Chile in 1972, because the CIA and Milton Friedman’s Chicago Schoolboys wanted someone else, who would serve THEIR purpose, not that of the people. That is what happened in both Greece and Italy, and we can now prove it.
And no, there were no bombs and machine gun heli’s involved this time around, but that’s not where we should put the dividing line. A coup is a coup. And any coup in an ostensibly democratic nation is a crime that the perpetrators need to be dragged in front of a judge and jury for, if not court-martialed. Yeah, well, that sounds lovely, but not a word was said or written. I looked earlier today, and there was only one reference I could find, in the English edition of Greek paper Ekathimerini in which Evangelos Venizelos, finance minister under Papandreou, the Greek PM who was ousted under EU auspices because he wanted the Greek people to decide in a referendum whether they wanted Troika austerity or not, an event in which Venizelos did not play a clean role at all, that same Venizelos who is now leader of PASOK, the party that held power for decades but is presently scraping the voters barrel in polls for this week elections, said:
“Mr Barroso did not have the main role in the discussion and the process,” said the PASOK chief. “Whoever says this does not have an understanding of the international balance of power and of the roles that EU figures have.” Venizelos also said that Papademos had not been first choice to become interim prime minister. Before he was sworn in on November 11, Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos and PASOK veteran Apostolos Kaklamanis had been suggested for the role, Venizelos claimed. However, Venizelos defended the decision not to proceed with a referendum, which eurozone leaders insisted should only be on whether Greece should remain in the euro. The PASOK leader suggested that proceeding with the vote would have led to a flight of deposits. “Did anyone want the banks to collapse the next day and the country to default?” he said.
Hmm, Evangelos. That’s how we decide these matters, is it? Maybe the question should be: did anyone want democracy? Because if they did, that was no longer an option, was it? How on earth can someone who’s the leader of a party that’s part of a democratic system, and who apparently hopes to be elected as the leader of a democratic nation, defend the toppling of his former boss in such a way? What the f**k is wrong with you? And what the f**k is wrong with all the journalists who have undoubtedly read the accounts of both the Berlusconi and the Papandreou coups, and decided not to write one single word about them while there are elections in just 3 days in which voters are fooled into thinking their vote counts for something?
Parties that are critical of the EU, if not downright against it, may win large victories in France, Holland, the UK, Finland, Norway, Italy and perhaps more countries. We’ll know by Sunday. But what will that mean? The entire mainstream storyline is HOW are we going to do Europe, not IF we’re going to do it. How fast are we going to hand over ever more powers to a cabal of career “civil servants” who have shown they are more than willing to sweep aside any actually elected politician from any of the 28 EU nations who dare stand in their way, and in the way of their dreams of what Europe should be, damn the people, and damn the democratic process?! Maybe this will give everyone a pause for thought:
Bondholders in Europe just got a wakeup call. After a four-month rally in euro-region debt, yields on Italian and Spanish bonds had their biggest one-day jump in almost a year last week as a selloff that started in Greece spread. With bids evaporating and prices sliding, traders poured into derivatives as they rushed to protect against losses. Italy’s and Spain’s bonds extended that slump today. [..]
The risk is that speculative traders, who bought debt on the assumption the European Central Bank would support the market, may try to flee at the same time if the outlook darkens. “You only know how wide the door to the exit is when there are a few of you trying to push through at the same time,” Michael Riddell, fund manager at M&G Group, which oversees $417 billion, said on May 16. “I don’t think liquidity has been that great in peripherals at any stage.”
Prices plunged in the wake of opinion polls suggesting the nation’s governing coalition was losing support before local-government votes and European Parliament elections on May 25. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s coalition partner Pasok, which dominated Greece’s politics for three decades, was ranked sixth in a poll with 5.5% as voters blamed the party for the country’s economic meltdown. The first round of local and regional elections in Greece ended yesterday with no single party winning enough support to declare a decisive victory. In Italy, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s party is facing its first elections since coming to power three months ago, risking a voter backlash amid a sluggish economy and a corruption scandal in Milan.
How much irony is there in thinking that the financial markets are the only hope left for European voters? Democracy is Europe is roadkill until those responsible for toppling Papandreou and Berlusconi have been thrown out, the system has been restructured to ensure no such things can happen again, and the appropriate courts have passed judgment on the guilty parties. None of those things are going to happen, the same old clique that executed the coups will start divvying up the cushy jobs come Sunday night if they haven’t already, and that can only mean one thing: the old continent is morally going going gone. And it’s not just the politicians, or whatever the proper term is for Brussels career wankers, it’s just as much an indictment of the entire world press.
I was going to cover the Ukraine elections this weekend too, but I’ll do that later in the week, Europe’s “monetary dictators” got me riled up plenty for now. And that goes for the entire press corps too. What a bunch of useless parakeets.