The Corner

In European Parliamentary Elections, Capitalism Triumphs in Europe

At least in “its mushy European form,” Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post writes:

In France, Germany, Italy and Poland — four of Europe’s six largest countries — center-right governments got unexpectedly enthusiastic endorsements. In the two other large countries, Britain and Spain, left-wing ruling parties got hammered, as did socialists in Hungary, Austria and elsewhere. In some places the results were stark indeed: In London last weekend, I could hardly walk down the street without being assaulted by screaming newspaper headlines, all declaring the Labor government of Gordon Brown weak, corrupt, tired, arrogant and, yes, very unpopular. In some constituencies, European candidates of the ruling Labor Party finished behind fringe parties that normally don’t get noticed at all. So rapidly are British ministers resigning from the cabinet that it’s hard to keep track of them (four in the past week — I think).

She asks: Why is the European Right doing so well, better than its American counterpart, during what is described as a crisis of global capitalism?

“The theoretical version of this Euro-American policy gap is the recent public spat between the economic historian Niall Ferguson and the economist Paul Krugman, both of whom are at least as well known for their newspaper polemics as for their academic writing. Very crudely, Ferguson and the German government think massive deficits and government borrowing will lead to inflation and ultimately the collapse of the currency. Equally crudely, Krugman and the American administration think he’s wrong.

For the record, Ferguson is, at least by origin, a British Tory. For the record, there aren’t any American Republican polemicists making the same arguments in quite as public a way. With a few exceptions, the American center-right’s loudest and most articulate voices have been focused almost exclusively on national security for the better part of the past decade. Lip service was paid to “small government” and “reduced spending” while successive Republican-led Congresses, hand in hand with a Republican White House, enlarged government and spent like crazy. How can they now criticize Obama’s possibly lethal budget deficits when their own were so vast, so recently?”

Of course, the vast deficits under Bush look like, well, small compared to the ones we are facing today. Nevertheless, she has a point. For more, read here.

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