Anne Applebaum finds evidence for a new “mood swing” towards austerity and government cuts in Europe:
Europeans are starting to realize that their governments are too big. Will Americans catch on next?
Throw your Euro stereotypes out the window: Last weekend, a Greek government that has cut public-sector pay and lowered pensions won a clear victory in local elections. Despite strikes and violence, despite the fact that Greece’s debt is still growing and more cuts are coming, there will be a Socialist mayor of Athens for the first time in 24 years. (And, yes, in Greece, the Socialists favor budget cuts, and the conservatives oppose them.)
Nor are the Greeks alone. Last month, voters re-elected a Latvian government that cut public-sector workers’ pay by 50 percent. The British government coalition, which is also trying to eliminate benefits and cut spending, remains strangely popular, too. Although—contrary to my previous observation—London witnessed its first Continental-style, anti-austerity riot last week, there wasn’t much general enthusiasm for the protesters. Some of their leaders wound up denouncing the riots, and they haven’t hurt the government’s poll numbers yet, either.