Destinations Magazine

The End of Fudge

By Stizzard
The end of fudge

ANDREAS PAPANDREOU, a proud Greek socialist who stood up to his country’s coup-mongering generals in the 1960s, won an election in October 1981 by fulminating against the European Economic Community (as it was then known) and vowing to lead Greece out of NATO. But in office he executed a graceful kolotoumba (somersault), discovering a taste for European subsidies that could be used to expand his crony state and turning himself into an engaged, if awkward, NATO partner. Greece’s interests, Papandreou determined, were best served by exploiting the rules of the clubs it belonged to, not by tearing them up.

The ties that bind Europe’s political elites have often turned out to be extraordinarily strong. Sometimes they oblige weak leaders to jettison election pledges. Take François Hollande, who took office in 2012 promising to end European austerity but instead finds himself battling to please Germany by reforming France’s sclerotic economy. When referendums go the “wrong” way, as with Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon treaty in 2009, leaders tweak the text and ask citizens to vote again. The serial bail-outs of the past five…

The Economist: Europe

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