July 30, 2012

Europe Not About to Abandon Democracy

Dan O'Brien, Irish Times

AP Photo

In understanding what is happening now, it is not the 1930s but the 1990s that provides the most relevant historical parallel. In the early part of that decade post-communist democracies in central and eastern Europe suffered massive shocks as they moved from state-run economies to market-based ones. Many industries that had been propped up during the communist experiment collapsed. Living standards collapsed and as a consequence unemployment soared.

The most significant political reaction was not a 1930s-style surge in support for the extremes, but a powerful, almost universal anti-incumbency swing. In dozens of elections in the transition countries throughout the 1990s almost no government won re-election.

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TAGGED: Netherlands, Finland, Greece, Germany, Spain, France, Portugal, Eurozone, Europe

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