Politicians braced for backlash as Europe turns against austerity

By Peter Beaumont in The Guardian, Sunday 29th April 2012

Voters sick of endless belt-tightening are threatening a backlash that could sweep their political leaders from power if they do not listen to the growing chorus for change…

At the end of last month, 5,000 people marched through Dublin to protest against the imposition of a €100 (£80) household tax that the Irish government was already struggling to collect from voters sick of austerity measures imposed on a stagnating economy.

It was a small demonstration by the standards of some that have taken place across Europe in recent months – in places such as Syntagma Square in Athens, or in Spanish cities during the general strike that took place just before the Dublin protest – but numbers on the streets are not everything these days.

As polls in Ireland revealed last week, support for the coalition government’s policies is collapsing, while backing for Sinn Féin – which is calling for a “no” vote in next month’s referendum on the EU fiscal compact that would bind member states other than the UK, which opted out, to budget deficits of 3% or less in perpetuity – has propelled it into the rank of Ireland’s second most popular party after Fine Gael. Whether there will still be a fiscal compact to vote on, when the Irish go to the polls, is a moot point. The likely winner of the second round of the French presidential elections next Sunday, the Socialist, François Hollande – who some polls put nine points ahead of the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy – has said he would revise the deal.

Read the full article here

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