The Greek people went to the polls yesterday and the pro-austerity parties didn’t fare well. Democracy isn’t conductive to austerity. Wikipedia has the election results:
Summary of the 6 May 2012 Hellenic Parliament election result Party Leader(s) Votes % +/– Seats +/– New Democracy Antonis Samaras 1,191,989 18.85% –14.62 108 17 Coalition of the Radical Left Alexis Tsipras 1,061,158 16.78% +11.15 52 39 Panhellenic Socialist Movement Evangelos Venizelos 833.456 13.18% –30.74 41 119 Independent Greeks Panos Kammenos 670,550 10.6% New 33 33 Communist Party Aleka Papariga 536,045 8.48% +0.94 26 5 Golden Dawn Nikolaos Michaloliakos 438,910 6.97% +6.68 21 21 Democratic Left Fotis Kouvelis 386,090 6.11% New 19 19
So, the Coalition of the Radical Left gets 17% of the vote while the conservative New Democracy gets 19%, but that translates to 52 seats for the Coalition and 108 seats for the conservatives. If you keep reading the Wikipedia article, you learn that the party that gets the most votes, gets a 50 seat bonus. That’s one screwed-up electoral system. I should note that the Panhellenic Socialist Movement is socialist only in its name. It and New Democracy are the two pro-austerity parties. In the 2009 Elections they combined for 77% of the vote (44% for the Movement and 33% for the conservatives).
In the American Prospect, Vivien Labaton and Gara Lamarche call for more attention to organizing movements and less to the electoral spectacle (a theme we’ve talked about here before). They focus on three (somewhat overlapping) areas where there has been “signs of life”: labor, immigration and economic justice.
What’s notable is that each of these movements has gained momentum without significant White House leadership. In fact, Democrats are the target of many of these initiatives, as frustrated progressives press the White House for change. What this tells us is that social-justice advocates need to take their cues from the communities they purport to represent, and need to insist that elected officials do the same.
We now know all too well that even elections touted as paradigm-shifting will not bring progressive change without a passionate and engaged constituency to fight for it. We need to build that lasting movement for change.
I found this piece a useful corrective to the Meyerson piece I wrote about here. It’s also worth noting that every one of these issues could see positive policy movement from the White House without any action from Congress. Some immigration rights groups have seized on this, pushing for an end to deportations.
We interrupt the White House’s post-speechifying lovefest with a quick note about the economy: Yes, Virginia, it’s failing once again and you can’t reduce deficits without growth in jobs, wages and thusly tax revenues. Cutting spending reduces aggregate demand, which results in job losses, which results in fewer tax revenues, which results in higher deficits and more spending cuts. Ad nauseum.
One might think the Ivy League nitwits currently gulping down the refined air of the Rose Garden and it’s environs would get this. One might also ponder the possibility that even completely self-interested careerists might look at the economy as a fair guesstimation as to national sentiment down the road, if only for their own sakes. It seems one would be wrong to do so.
So here we are, with almost the entire First World’s leadership putting their respective populations on a strict diet of austerity. And lo, what do we see? Why, we see plummeting GDPs in nice countries like the UK, coupled with rising unemployment and Neo-Liberal “reforms.” Here in the US, the real budget austerity hasn’t even fully kicked in yet and we’re already heading south for the economic winter. From Calculated Risk, via the derisively pointed Decline Of The Empire:
From MarketWatch: Q1 GDP estimates slashed post-trade data (ht jb)
Morgan Stanley slashed their estimate to 1.5% from 1.9% after what they called “a very weak report.” RBS Securities cut their estimates to 1.7% from 2% …And from Catherine Rampell at Economix: G.D.P. Forecast for First Quarter Slides
Today, after an especially weak report on February’s trade deficit, the [Macroeconomic Advisers'] economists lowered their first quarter G.D.P. estimate to a sorry 1.5 percent annualized.So Macroeconomic Advisers’ forecast has gone from a “paltry” 2.3% to a “sorry” 1.5%!
The advance GDP report will be released on Thursday April 28th. Still time for more downgrades. What comes after “paltry” and “sorry”? Putrid?
Add in oil that is trading in a range of $106 – $112 or so:
Add in all the various state and local budget cuts and higher resulting unemployment from those and we have a tightly configured downward spiral ahead of us.
Simply put, all this kabuki about the deficit has nothing whatsoever to do with said deficit. By continuing to froth in bi-partisan language, Obama is effectively placing himself at the head of the Parade of Economic Destruction. The thought occurs that POTUS is merely the CEO of Operation Shock Doctrine.
With 100% of precincts reporting, the Associated Press gives Kloppenburg a lead of 204 votes out of nearly 1.5 million cast. A Kloppenburg win would shift the balance of the court, from 4-3 conservative to 4-3 liberal.
Given the political security that Wisconsin Justices usually enjoy, Prosser should have been re-elected easily as of just a few weeks ago. However, the political backlash against Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union legislation has galvanized liberal activists, who brought in a late but very energetic game for the election.
Gov. Scott Walker said this afternoon that the spring election results show there are “two very different worlds in this state.”
“You’ve got a world driven by Madison, and a world driven by everybody else out across the majority of the rest of the state of Wisconsin,” Walker said at a press conference in the Capitol.
“For those who believe it’s a referendum, while it might have a statewide impact that we may lean one way or the other, it’s largely driven by Madison, and to a lesser extent Milwaukee,” he also added. “But those Senate recall elections on both the Democrat and Republican side aren’t being held in Madison, they aren’t being held in Milwaukee.”
Damn Hippies. Only teabaggers should be allowed to vote!