Attac rejoices at what could be the first political defeat of those who support austerity measures inEurope. Sarkozy’s defeat means the downfall of an arrogant president who only tried serve the interests of a greedy oligarchy. It reflects the people’s resistance against austerity measures that led to massive demonstrations against the pension reform programme in 2010. It raises hope among Southern European countries that have to face the terrible havoc caused by policies enforced by the Troika (European Commission, ECB and IMF). Especially since on the same Sunday in Greece a genuine left-wing party made an historic breakthrough in the general elections, with the two government parties associated with austerity plans and the collapse of the country.
Yet while we feel a huge relief, we know how tenuous hope is. The pressure of financial markets will increase in the coming weeks to force François Hollande to ratify the Fiscal Pact imposed by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, with some vague statements and puny measures about growth as compensation. This new treaty that prohibits public deficits and enforces boundless austerity combined with wild productivism that destroys nature and workers, can only doom Europe to a worse recession.
The French and European social-democracy has not yet reached a correct assessment of the ruptures that are necessary in order to change tack. Yet progressive forces cannot make mistakes. If it fails in France, the right and the far right, that chillingly converge on xenophobic and authoritarian positions, will swipe the bid of disillusion and despair.
There is only one way for citizens to prevent this, through social mobilization, direct intervention in public affairs. As in 1936, with a united front of the left but in a European context, we can enforce our demands to meet social, environmental and democratic urgent needs. Let us support our trade unions, our associations, our progressive parties; let’s occupy the squares, the streets, all public spaces; let us demand a democratic debate on economic and social policies, particularly at a European level, with referenda on the Fiscal Pact.
On May 18 and 19, there will be thousands of us in the streets of Frankfurt-am-Main responding to the call from German social movements, to tell the European Central Bank: no to austerity, yes to solidarity!
AttacFrance, 8 May 2012