The New Politics of Austerity: Fiscal Responses to the Economic Crisis in Ireland and Spain
This paper adopts a new analytical approach to explaining choices in fiscal politics in Ireland and Spain between 2008 and 2010, in response to international economic crisis. It adopts a comparative cross-national research design to explore why two countries with similar pre-crisis fiscal profiles adopted radically different strategies in the initial phase of the crisis: Ireland adopted an orthodox deficit-reduction strategy, while Spain implemented a ‘heterodox’ stimulus fiscal package. Yet by mid-2010, Spain’s fiscal stance had converged with Ireland’s, as the wider European crisis deepened and the scope for autonomous national policy choice narrowed. The paper tracks this shift in a second stage of the research design, examining within-country variation over time, to provide a nuanced and sophisticated analysis of strategic choices at critical moments. It argues that the shift toward a European politics of austerity is different in a number of important ways from the older politics of fiscal consolidation, and that this has far-reaching implications not only for the evolution of European integration, but also for the balance between democratic politics and transnational markets.
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