Sinn Fein’s rapid rise in the polls in Ireland is a clear response to a massive austerity agenda that is backfiring on the current government there.
In an Irish Times poll last week the Sinn Fein vote vaulted into the low 20s, making them the second most popular party in Ireland after the major government party, Fine Gael.
The rapid rise in the Sinn Fein vote is due in the main to the continuing economic tsunami of bad debt and bad news that continues in Ireland.
New rates and water charges have been introduced and the average citizen, already beleaguered by the property collapse and the tight credit, is deeply feeling the effects of the crisis.
Sinn Fein, with a cadre of young front bench spokespersons and a clear attitude of deep skepticism towards Europe, is gaining heavily as a result.
The other main opposition party Fianna Fail, whose profligate policies got the country into the total mess, is understandably receiving very little uptick.
Events elsewhere in Europe will begin to impact on Ireland too. The likely outcome of the French election and the Dutch government collapse are all related to the same reality that the austerity measures enacted by the European Union are proving deeply unpopular and destructive.
Ireland has dutifully followed the German prescription that austerity and more austerity will lead it back to financial stability.
However, cutting wages and raising taxes while creating more unemployment is not the way to build out of a recession.
Deflation is a much more likely outcome of such policies as consumers have less and less to spend and economic growth is impossible to sustain.
The message from Ireland and elsewhere to German Chancellor Angela Merkel is that austerity as a long-term plan is not helping and that stimulus, not cutbacks, are the best way to address the problem.
It is a lesson Germany of all countries should certainly have learned from its own disastrous depression after the Treaty of Versailles which led them into massive debt and eventually led to the rise of Hitler.
There are many such rough beasts out there these days, even here in America, demanding deeper and deeper cuts to spending at the time when the exact opposite is needed in order to survive.
Ireland has remained remarkably calm, with none of the riots that have wracked Greece and Portugal and other countries.
That is to be welcomed, and the hope is that whatever issues arise in the next year or two will be dealt with in a physically non–confrontational way.
A major sea change may be about to take place in Europe over how the entire crisis is dealt with there. Ireland could well be at the forefront of that, a battle over the survival of the Euro and how long-term debt is paid back.
There is much at stake in the months ahead.
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