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The Eurozone crisis and the erosion of democratic legitimacy: Lessons from the gold standard. ACES Cases No. 2013.3

Matthijs, Matthias M. (2013) The Eurozone crisis and the erosion of democratic legitimacy: Lessons from the gold standard. ACES Cases No. 2013.3. UNSPECIFIED.

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    This paper makes four propositions. First, it argues that the euro’s institutional design makes it function like the interwar gold exchange standard during periods of stress. Just like the gold exchange standard during the 1930s, the euro created a ‘core’ of surplus countries and a ‘periphery’ of deficit countries. The latter have to sacrifice their internal domestic economic equilibrium in order to restore their external equilibrium, and therefore have no choice but to respond to balance of payments crises by a series of deflationary spending, price and wage cuts. The paper’s second claim is that the euro’s institutional design and the EU’s response to its ‘sovereign debt crisis’ during 2010-13 deepened the recession in the Eurozone periphery, as EMU leaders focused almost exclusively on austerity measures and structural reforms and paid only lip service to the need to rebalance growth between North and South. As Barry Eichengreen argued in Golden Fetters, the rigidity of the gold standard contributed to the length and depth of the Great Depression during the 1930s, but also underscored the incompatibility of the system with legitimate national democratic government in places like Italy, Germany, and Spain, which is the basis for the paper’s third proposition: the euro crisis instigated a crisis of democratic government in Southern Europe underlining that democratic legitimacy still mainly resides within the borders of nation states. By adopting the euro, EMU member states gave up their ability to control major economic policy decisions, thereby damaging their domestic political legitimacy, which in turn dogged attempts to enact structural reforms. Evidence of the erosion of national democracy in the Eurozone periphery can be seen in the rise of anti-establishment parties, and the inability of traditional center-left and center-right parties to form stable governments and implement reforms. The paper’s fourth proposition is that the euro’s original design and the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis further widened the existing democratic deficit in the European Union, as manifested in rising anti-EU and anti-euro sentiment, as well as openly Eurosceptic political movements, not just in the euro periphery, but also increasingly in the euro core.

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    Item Type: Other
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > economic and financial affairs > financial crisis 2008-on/reforms/economic governance
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > legitimacy
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > American Consortium on European Union Studies > ACES Cases
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2015 13:29
    Number of Pages: 50
    Last Modified: 12 Jan 2015 13:29

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