Look behind you, Lucas and Mario

The arrival of technocratic governments in Greece and Italy may well calm jittery markets, but could also help boost populist political parties who point to the democratic deficit at the heart of the EU, argues Gideon Rachman.

Published on 15 November 2011 at 15:07
A hard task awaits Greek PM Lucas Papademos, Italy's Prime Minister designate Mario Monti and ECB governor Mario Draghi.

The arrival of technocratic prime ministers in Greece and Italy has not been greeted with universal applause. Some complain that because Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti have not been elected, their appointments will simply confirm the elitist and undemocratic nature of the European project.

Perhaps so. But technocrats have something to be said for them in the middle of a financial crisis. They are perfectly at home in the world of yield curves and collateralised debt obligations. They understand foreign countries, as well as the markets. If you enter their offices they are unlikely to ask for a bribe or to pinch your bum. Since they are assumed not to want a long-term career in politics, they may be able to take difficult decisions.

European technocrats tend to have strikingly similar credentials. Compare the CVs of Mr Monti, Mr Papademos and Mario Draghi, the newly arrived head of the European Central Bank. All three men are economists who trained in the US. All three have had top jobs in the bureaucracy of the European Union. Both Mr Monti and Mr Draghi have worked for Goldman Sachs.

These qualifications will please the markets and upset anti-globalists. But Europe, and the world at large, has every reason to hope that Messrs Monti and Papademos can work miracles. For if the technocrats fail to do so, the extremists are waiting in the wings. [Read full article in Financial Times - registered users](http:// http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/6913807e-0ebb-11e1-b83c-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1dlJo7y7e) - or in Presseurop's nine other languages...


The ideology of technocrats is austerity

“The only thing on which everyone agrees is that we have entered the political phase of the economic crisis, and that the technocrats have moved in,” writes El País columnist Joaquín Estefanía following the appointment of former European Commissioner Mario Monti and former central banker Lucas Papademos as the respective heads of the Italian and Greek governments.

Technocrats are not pure spirits, but like the politicians whose seats they take over, and like their fellow citizens, they have their ideology, and they come to power to push through a specific policy: the one laid down by Mrs. Merkel, with the uncritical support of Sarkozy, and which consists of high doses of austerity for the southern countries in exchange for the rescue of the eurozone.... The message of the crisis to losers: “We’re very sorry for what’s happened to you, but the laws of economics are pitiless and you must adapt to them by cutting back on the protections that you have. If you want to grow wealthy, you must first accept greater deprivation; that is the path that will take you into the future."

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