Inside the mind of Monti

by niamh on September 20, 2012

Would you be surprised to hear that Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti recently said this:

political scientists need to re-think the type of democratic structures that are required to govern in a post-Eurozone crisis world. The EU needs institutional renewal.

Monti also provides tips on how best to influence Angela Merkel’s thinking (go silent on a topic. It spooks her). This and more, from a fascinating blog by Aidan Regan, a Max Weber Fellow at the EUI in Florence. But don’t get too excited about democratizing Europe just yet. What Monti actually meant was this:

The European parliament, he argued, needs to be empowered to take collectively sanctioned decisions for Europe as a whole. Furthermore, the technical decisions required to solve the crisis (in his opinion) have to be somewhat removed from the immediate interest of national electorates. In fact he went as far as saying that citizens (and their respective governments) need to be faced with the threat of an exit from the European Union so as to empower European policymakers to take new and bold decisions.

In other words, democratic accountability as normally understood is expendable in the interests of administrative efficiency. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he; and understandably, perhaps, in the Italian context, since Monti is certainly a contrast gainer relative to Berlusconi. But it’s an unusually candid and ‘realist’ statement of the default trend in European integration. It is precisely this that makes many people wary of deeper integration, that drives up Euroscepticism in defence of national prerogatives, and indeed that tends to fuel right-wing populism. It is equally a world removed from, for example, Habermas‘s vision of the EU as a radically democratized, market-restraining constitutional order, trans-national and cosmopolitan in character, and governed by humane values.

 

47 per cent true

by John Quiggin on September 20, 2012

As Chris says in comments here, Romney’s main hope of getting away with his claim that 47 per cent of the US population are non-taxpaying moochers is the expectation that very few people will actually regard themselves as part of that 47 per cent. The same calculation is made by those who have pushed this talking point for years such as well-known plagiarist Ben Domenech and general lowlife Erick Erickson. It’s unsurprising that they should think this. After all, they’ve been making this claim, in one form or another for years, going back to the WSJ’s attack on “lucky duckies” in 2002. The claim has been refuted time and again with the points that most of the 47 per cent are workers subject to payroll tax, or retired people, but this refutation hasn’t reached the Fox News audience, many of whom don’t realise they are the moochers being attacked here.

But I don’t think this will help Romney, and the reasons why reflect some important developments in relation to post-truth political discourse in the US.

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