The events of 2015 taught us a lot about the potential ( and the limits) of left wing populism. Syriza in Greece had started the year as the harbinger of change – offering a genuine alternative to the politics of austerity and to a European Union that had been created and managed solely in Germany’s self-interest. Unfortunately, Syriza has now ended up as the battered local agent of those same oppressive forces.
Inevitably, the demise of Syriza cast a long shadow over the mid-December elections in Spain, and it checked the advance of its former Spanish ally, Podemos. The outcome could have been far worse. A Spanish electorate that had gone through terrible austerity measures – and an unemployment rate that peaked at 27% – could be forgiven for thinking that even the country’s current tepid economic recovery was better than the risk of change. New Zealand voters will probably be fed a similar election message of caution by the Key government in 2017. Read the rest of this entry »