Voter Backlash Against Austerity

Voter Backlash Against Austerity

08 May 2012

News of a new socialist president in France and an inconclusive election in Greece has sent stock markets around the world tumbling and made life more difficult for Northern Ireland's exporters, according to the Belfast Telegraph today.

The election results in France and Greece are taken as a sign of the deep voter discord against the harsh austerity measures implemented by these governments in an effort to pay off mounting sovereign debt. As a result, the Greek stock market slumped nearly 7% yesterday while both the German and French markets were also around 1% lower, and the euro had fallen to a three-and-a-half year low against sterling. The weaker euro means our exporters have to lower their prices to compete on European markets.

Greece is in its fifth year of recession and has over half its youth out of work following big spending cuts and tax increases in return for crucial international bailout funds. Following the weekend’s election results, if no government can be formed that can command a majority in parliament, another general election may be held within the next two months.

The new French Socialist president, Francois Hollande, campaigned on the need for more growth-generating economic policies and less reliance on austerity. Final results from the presidential election showed Hollande narrowly defeating incumbent Sarkozy with 51.62 % of the vote.

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered a setback yesterday in a regional election in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. Merkel and her government have borne the brunt of the criticism over Europe's austerity drive.

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