As Popular Opposition Grows: Austerity Budgets imposed across Europe
By Alex Lantier
September 29, 2012
The French, Spanish and Greek governments all announced multibillion-euro austerity plans yesterday in the face of massive popular opposition.
The French budget presented by the Socialist Party (PS) government of President François Hollande is the harshest since the austerity budgets of the early 1980s under PS President François Mitterrand. It calls for €30 billion (US$38.6 billion) in deficit cuts, including €20 billion in tax increases and €10 billion in spending cuts.
The Spanish budget calls for €13.4 billion in spending cuts in the fourth major package of austerity measures passed this year following the election of the conservative Popular Party (PP) last November. The ministries whose budgets will be most severely cut include Agriculture, Industry and Education.
Greece’s coalition government — which includes the right-wing New Democracy (ND), the social democratic PASOK, and the Democratic Left (DIMAR) — announced that it will unveil a plan Monday for €11.5 billion in spending cuts. Plans for these cuts were first announced in July, but the government initially failed to reach an agreement on how to distribute them.
In each country, the new austerity measures are being pushed through in defiance of public opinion. On Wednesday, millions of workers throughout Greece walked off the job and hundreds of thousands protested in a one-day national strike. On Tuesday, tens of thousands of protesters opposed to the cuts marched to the parliament in Madrid and were brutally attacked by riot police.
In France, Hollande’s popularity ratings have fallen to 43 percent as job losses and austerity measures antagonize voters who elected him in May.
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