The politics of fiscal effort in Spain and Ireland: Market credibility versus political legitimacy
Austerity measures in response to Eurozone crisis have tended to be conceived, debated, and implemented as if only the technical parameters of budget management mattered. But policies that impose budgetary hardships on citizens, whether in the form of increased taxes or cuts to public spending go right to the heart of voter expectations about what it is both appropriate and acceptable for governments to do. Pro-cyclical measures that worsen an already difficult situation in a recession run counter to deep-seated norms and expectations in European countries, built up over decades of democratic governance, whereby governments are expected to provide offsetting protection for their citizens against the vicissitudes of the market. If austerity measures are held to be unavoidable in response to market turbulence, and especially if this view is underwritten by international authorities, new challenges of political legitimation are likely to arise. These issues are explored through the experiences of Spain and Ireland.
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