Monday, November 05, 2012

Prediction Time

For posterity, my state-by-state predictions for Tuesday night:

Alabama (9 EV):  The deep south never warmed up to Barack Obama.  It will enthusiastically support Mitt Romney on Tuesday.
Romney 9, Obama 0

Alaska (3 EV): Out of the spotlight after a crazy 2008 where Sarah Palin was only part of three ring circus, Alaska remains firmly Republican.
Romney 12, Obama 0

Arizona (11 EV):  There's a demographic case for Arizona being competitive in the near future.  Obama may have been able to make that happen in a stronger economy.  As it is, Romney wins comfortably.
Romney 23, Obama 0

Arkansas (6 EV):  Bill Clinton has been a huge part of Obama's late push.  He isn't spending a lot of effort on his home state of Arkansas which hasn't supported a Democrat for President since he left office.  No change here.
Romney 29, Obama 0

California (55 EV):  California has produced two Republican presidents in the last 50 years.   The polls close at 11 PM EST in California, Obama will be declared the winner there at 11:01 PM EST.
Obama 55, Romney 29

Colorado (9 EV):  Generally speaking I think the Obama ground game is going to be a huge positive for him.  The early voting in Colorado tells me that the Evangelical churches and the rest of the Romney ground forces are equal to the task.  The polls call it a toss up and we might not actually knows who wins on Tuesday but I'm giving it to Romney.
Obama 55, Romney 38

Connecticut (7 EV):  Connecticut is the first of the Sandy effected states on this list.  Barring a major poll problem, Obama wins here easily.
Obama 62, Romney 38

Delaware (3 EV):  Corporations have most of the legal rights of people.  Voting isn't among them.  Mitt Romney wishes they could so that all his corporate friends could make Delaware competitive.  Biden's state stays blue.
Obama 65, Romney 38

District of Columbia (3 EV):  The District may be central to American politics but it's also the left edge of American Politics.  Obama by some ridiculous number.
Obama 68, Romney 38

Florida (29 EV): This will be close, but then again Florida usually is.  I don't really know why I think Romney is going to win there.  I just do. Rubio's brought some of the Cubans who voted for Obama back into the Republican fold?  Jeb Bush needs to deliver to set up 2016?  The economy is horrible?  Pick a reason.
Obama 68, Romney 67

Georgia (16 EV):  Georgia may be coming into the political centre but not in this election.
Romney 83, Obama 68

Hawaii (4 EV):  Hawaii like three things politically: Democrats, incumbents and their native son, Barack Obama.  Oh also for some reason, Spam.  Although I'm not sure that's political.
Romney 83, Obama 72

Idaho (4 EV): An excuse to talk about the Mormon vote! Idaho's usually insanely large Republican majority will be made stronger by having a Mormon candidate on the ballot.
Romney 87, Obama 72

Illinois (20 EV):  There's less excitement in Chicago this year but they still love Obama.
Obama 92, Romney 87

Indiana (11 EV):  The strangest thing politically about 2008 was Obama carrying Indiana.  No repeat this year.
Romney 98, Obama 92

Iowa (6 EV):  The Hawkeye state isn't the most obvious of states to support Obama.  It's largely white and rural with no city larger than Des Moines.  Still it will continue its support of the President.
Romney 98, Obama 98

Kansas (6 EV):  Former Governor and current Obama cabinet member Kathleen Sibelius may be an unfortunate political casualty of Obamacare which is too bad because she has all of the political talent to become President.  Maybe if she's the Democratic nominee in four years Kansas is competitive.  Until then there's still something the matter with Kansas.
Romney 104, Obama 98

Kentucky (8 EV): The Democrats seemed to be on the verge of something in Kentucky when they almost knocked off Mitch McConnell.  Since then Kentucky elected Rand Paul to the senate.
Romney 112, Obama 98

Louisiana (8 EV):  Louisiana may be the first state in American history to have its political culture changed by a storm.  The African-American population never really came back in full and Louisiana is now slightly further to the political right.
Romney 120, Obama 98

Maine (4 EV): You will hear for about the first two hours of Tuesday night about the fact that Maine splits its electoral votes and the 1st Congressional District is competitive. Then around 9:00 or 9:30 all 4 electoral votes will go to Obama.  You heard it here first.
Romney 120, Obama 102

Maryland (10 EV):  The Baltimore Orioles made the playoffs this year.  It was a huge shock.  There's no huge shock here on Tuesday night politically: Obama by a wide margin.
Romney 120, Obama 112

Massachusetts (11 EV):  Everyone made a huge deal about Al Gore losing Tennessee in 2000.  No one is talking about how badly Romney is losing his home state this year.  Down ballot, a great microcosm of the political debate in the United States is happening between Tea Party darling Sen. Scott Brown and liberal darling Elizabeth Warren.  It may also decide the balance in the Senate.
Obama 123, Romney 120

Michigan (16 EV): Can't anyone just be from one state anymore?  Seriously though, I think the Obama campaign get the African-American vote out in Detroit and if they do that they win.  Plus, you have to be of a certain age to remember the days of George Romney in Michigan.
Obama 139, Romney 120

Minnesota (10 EV): There are whispers in Minnesota that Michelle Bachmann may be in trouble.  Late outside money coming in to her re-election campaign. That's probably more intriguing than how this state votes for President.  It will be closer than '08 but still comfortable for Obama.
Obama 149, Romney 120

Mississippi (6 EV):  There are fewer states more conservative than Mississippi.  Expect a Romney landslide.
Obama 149, Romney 126

Missouri (10 EV):  I'm not really sure why Missouri stopped being a bell-weather and started voting reliably Republican.  I do know that Obama lost narrowly here in '08 with a stronger wind at his back.  Romney wins.  Missouri may prove to be a disappointment for the GOP if Todd Aikin fails to unseat Claire McCaskill.  Take comfort Mr. Aikin, if you lose on Tuesday it's just part of God's plan.
Obama 149, Romney 136

Montana (3 EV):  There's this sneaky Democratic streak to Montana.  It's not sneaky enough to give Obama a win here though. If you want a deep dark horse for 2016 look at Gov Brian Schweitzer (D).
Obama 149, Romney 139

Nebraska (5 EV): Nebraska was so aghast about giving an electoral vote to Barack Obama 4 years ago, they tried to amend the rules.  As far as I can tell, they didn't actually manage to do that.  Or at least CNN doesn't think they did.  Omaha won't give Obama anything this time out.
Obama 149, Romney 144

Nevada (6 EV): The early turnout in Nevada has been excellent for the Democrats.  Huge turnout in Clark and Washoe county where the Democrats need the votes to come in.  Early voting has completely changed American presidential politics but no one talks about it.  70% of the vote in Nevada is already in and people still talk about it like it's completely up for grabs.
Obama 155, Romney 144

New Hampshire (4 EV):  There's a political philosophy argument that makes a ton of sense about Romney being a perfect fit politically in New Hampshire.  Unfortunately for Romney elections aren't just about political philosophy.
Obama 159, Romney 144

New Jersey (14 EV):  All of America's (and the world's) hearts are with the people of New Jersey and New York.  All of New Jersey's electoral votes are with Barack Obama.
Obama 173, Romney 144

New Mexico (5 EV):  New Mexico is the canary in the coal mine for the Republican party and Hispanics.  Unfortunately for the future of the GOP, the canary's been dead for a few years now and nobody seems to notice.
Obama 178, Romney 144

New York (29 EV): Staten Island is traditionally a Republican bastion in Democratic New York.  If the devastation depresses turnout there, expect a larger margin for Obama statewide.
Obama 207, Romney 144

North Carolina (15 EV):  Call it a huge hunch.  The late polls seem to be trending the President's way.  The early vote is up from 2008 levels.  Picking Colorado and Florida for Romney and North Carolina for Obama may make some statisticians heads explode but that's what I keep thinking so I'm going with it.  I'm probably dead wrong.
Obama 222, Romney 144

North Dakota (3 EV): North Dakota probably upset about the NHL lockout.  They're also not thrilled with the President.  Obama might beat Bettman here, not Romney.
Obama 222, Romney 147

Ohio (18 EV):  I know the Governor is guaranteeing victory for Romney.  The governor is wrong.  Too many votes already cast in Cleveland and Columbus for Romney to pull this out.
Obama 240, Romney 147

Oklahoma (7 EV): Remember when I said Mississippi was the most conservative state in the union?  Here's the number 1 contender.
Obama 240, Romney 154

Oregon (7 EV): Oregonians are focused on whether or not the Oregon Ducks can finally get to a National Championship football game. They know their state is voting for Obama.
Obama 247, Romney 154

Pennsylvania (20 EV): I think the late push by Romney into Pennsylvania will be remembered as the moment the Romney campaign realized they'd lost.  Too little, too late here.  Obama holds on.
Obama 267, Romney 154

Rhode Island (4 EV):  Tiny Rhode Island pushes Obama past 270 and into a 2nd term on this alphabetical list.  It will be called very early on election night.
Obama 271, Romney 154

South Carolina (9 EV): South Carolina will vote Democratic when Strom Thurmond come back from the dead and tells them to.
Obama 271, Romney 163

South Dakota (3 EV):  Is it me or would all 4 presidents on Mt. Rushmore vote for Obama?  I know Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln were Republicans but I can't see them voting for the current incarnation of the GOP.  South Dakotans will vote happily for Mitt Romney.
Obama 271, Romney 166

Tennessee (11 EV):  The Volunteer state is surprisingly cold to Obama's ideas of public service.
Obama 271, Romney 177

Texas (38 EV): I firmly believe that within the next 20 years the Democrats will carry Texas in a Presidential election.  Maybe then Republicans will realize that they have to do outreach to Latinos.
Obama 271, Romney 215

Utah (6 EV):  It really is significant that a Mormon is the Republican candidate for President of the United States.  The largely Mormon people of Utah will enthusiastically endorse him.
Obama 271, Romney 221

Vermont (3 EV): There are Romney ads talking about Obama as a socialist.  Vermont actually elected a socialist to the Senate.
Obama 274, Romney 221

Virginia (13 EV): There were some big pre-storm early voting returns in Northern Virginia.  Early voting isn't as important in Virginia but it does tell me that the Democratic party is hard at work on the ground.  There's a tight senate race here too so turnout should be high.  I'm giving the edge to Obama.
Obama 287, Romney 221

Washington (12 EV):  The pacific northwest may be the most politically ignored part of the country this year.  At least people go to fundraisers in California, New York and Texas.  Washington is being ignored because it will vote for Obama and do so by a decent margin.
Obama 299, Romney 221

West Virgina (5 EV): Obama never did figure out coal country. No matter.
Obama 299, Romney 226

Wisconsin (10 EV): To Paul Ryan's credit, he made Wisconsin somewhat competitive.  To his discredit, Romney's gong to lose Wisconsin.
Obama 309, Romney 226

Wyoming (3 EV): Dick Cheney apparently doesn't need to be on the ballot for Wyoming to go overwhelmingly Republican.  Huh.  I guess Bush didn't pick him for his charm.
Obama 309, Romney 229

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Canada: Where The World Learns

I'm absolutely thrilled to see the government of Canada moving on the issue of opening Canadian universities and colleges to the world.  I mean what a novel idea.  I mean it's not like I was talking about this 18 months ago or anything.  Seriously though, this is the kind of thinking we need to be seeing out of our government.  I'm not afraid to give a government, even a Conservative one, its due when they do something right.  Now, we just need them to follow through.  Hey, Liberals, do what opposition parties are supposed to do: hold their feet to the fire and make sure they follow through.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

For Less Than A Dollar a Day...

Don't worry.  I'm not trying to sell you insurance.  I'm trying to sell you on Karen Stintz's super-awesome new transit plan.  Yes for just $180 a year or $15 a month, Toronto could actually have a transit system worthy of the name.  Okay, I'd like more subways because no one ever gets on the subway and thinks, "Damn, wish this was an LRV!"  I also don't get the Scarborough subway that doesn't go through Scarborough Town Centre but rather just a little east of it.  But there's no point in quibbling with minor details.  There are new subways on this map including a very necessary downtown relief line and the extension of the Sheppard Abortion Subway out to Downsview.  There's also the re-insertion of the very necessary Lakeshore LRT and the extension of the Yonge line up to Steeles.  A whole lot of good. For 360 easy payments of $14.99, you too could have a transit system that works.  Ms. Stintz, I know you keep saying you aren't running for Mayor, but this is one hell of a platform.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Housing Market Hypocrisy

Yesterday brought new house price numbers showing that the Canadian housing market has not, as yet, fallen off a cliff.  Prices are down a little in Vancouver while still rising in Toronto.  The coverage was accompanied by the standard doom and gloom about a catastrophic housing bubble.  The Globe ran an interview with a blogger on the front page of their Focus section on the weekend promising fire and brimstone for Canadian homes.  Maclean's used one of its sensationalist cover stories to warn of impending catastrophe in house prices.  Leading the fire and brimstone brigade is the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney and the Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty.  Whether or not there is a bubble in the Canadian housing market is a discussion which, while I could discuss at length, I won't.  My personal view is that prices may be a little high but there's a lot of non-bubble contributing factors.  One of the more bubble-like factors, however, is the ridiculously low interest rates we are currently enjoying in Canada.  This is where the hypocrisy comes in.  The Governor of the Bank of Canada and his political master (albeit at a fairly long arm's length) the Minister of Finance, have decided that it is in the country's national interest to have interest rates at this level.  They have absolutely no business criticizing Canadians for taking advantage of the low rates.

Mr. Carney doesn't set interest rates for fun, he does it to try to keep the economy growing in a nice low-inflation environment.  That's his job.  Interest rates are a great way to manage an economy's growth because they have profound on how actors within the economy act.  The reason that you lower interest rates to absurdly low levels, and the reason that you keep interest rates at absurdly low levels is because you want people to borrow.  In fact, you want people to borrow in a way that they wouldn't if interest rates were higher.  That's the whole point of having low interest rates.  Now, admittedly, Mr. Carney really wants businesses to borrow money to spend on equipment more than he wants Joe and Jill Canuck to buy a house but you can't get one without the other.  If you sustain a low interest rate environment, more and more people will take you up on the offer of cheap money and yes, this may cause home prices to go higher than they would in normal circumstances.  This is basic economics.  Mark Carney is a very smart man and a pretty darn good economist.  He knows that reasons 1, 2 and 3 that there may be a bubble in the Canadian housing market is the ridiculously low interest rates that he sets.  It's absolute hypocrisy for him and Mr. Flaherty (who has to be on board with Mr. Carney's plan) to criticize Canadians for doing exactly what they told Canadians to do by lowering interest rates.  If Mr. Carney and Mr. Flaherty were really worried about the housing bubble, they'd raise interest rates.  If they aren't worried enough to do that, they need to stop preaching doom and gloom.  It won't make them less responsible if the doom and gloom actually comes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fit the Narrative or Die Trying

The still mandatory part of the 2011 census is coming out.  We start with the basics: how many people are there in Canada and where do they live.  The media has decided that the take away from Wednesday's Statscan data dump is that the West is Best and poor Ontario is in decline.  This is a narrative that we've been hearing for a while and there are those in the media who like to take times like this to keep telling their little story.  Yes, if you believe the papers the centre of power is moving West.  Unless the centre of power was Windsor, ON, I'm not sure I'm buying what they're selling.

The story in Ontario overall is that yes, it grew at a slightly slower pace than the national average.  However, all this talk about percentages ignores the raw numbers.  High flying Alberta grew by about 350,000 people in the last 5 years.  Declining Ontario grew by about 700,000 people.  If there is a decline in Ontario, it is highly localized.  Southwestern Ontario is a problem.  Factory towns like Windsor and St. Catharines either declined or showed anemic growth.  Northern Ontario is similarly stagnant.  These aren't particularly new developments, especially in the north.  Ignored by the media is the fact that the Greater Toronto Area is still booming. 

If the centre of power is anywhere, it's Toronto and the GTA is doing just fine, thank you.  Almost 470,000 more people called the GTA home in 2011 than did in 2006.  To put that in perspective that almost equals the entire population of booming Saskatoon and Regina, combined.  The GTA added more people during this period than the entire province of Alberta.   Admittedly, most of that growth is in the suburbs as people search for space and affordability but not exclusively.  The condo explosion led the very downtown riding of Trinity-Spadina to grow by 25.5%, ranking 7th in the country (5 of the top 7 fastest growing ridings in the country were in the GTA).  Overall, the population of the city of Toronto grew by a larger number than any other city in the country, bar none.  The media can keep telling themselves that Alberta is the new centre of power.  The numbers, however, are telling a completely different story.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Mitt Romney's Very Bad Day

It is no great revelation that Mitt Romney had a bad night on Tuesday.  He showed poorly in Colorado and Minnesota.  However, I think the results on Tuesday are more than a mere flesh wound for Romney.  Let's be clear, I still believe there's about a 75% chance Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee.  However, before Tuesday I would have put those chances at around 90%.  Let's deal with what Tuesday means for the rest of the nomination fight first.  As far as I can tell, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul all have the same goal: get to the convention without Romney having a majority of delegates.  Gingrich wants to be a close second to Romney in delegates with hopefully a couple of big state wins under his belt (watch for Gingrich to spend a lot of time in Texas).  He then hopes to be seen as the only alternative to Romney and win after Santorum endorses him.  Santorum has a similar strategy. However, I don't think Santorum would be devastated to be third after a first ballot.  I think of Santorum as the Stephane Dion of this race (Romney's Iggy in this weird analogy; Gingrich is Rae).  He may not be the most popular guy at the convention, but he may be the least objectionable and that may be enough.  Ron Paul, with all due respect, has no delusions of being the nominee.  He wants to be the kingmaker and extract some promises out of the nominee.  He needs a brokered convention for that.  Given, that his opponents need to keep Romney at 50%-1, we start to see the problem with losing races in states like Colorado and Minnesota.

Nate Silver has an excellent piece up over at fivethirtyeight in which he wonders out loud about why Romney didn't spend more money in these two states.  I have a theory.  I think Romney's campaign assumed that the fight they had to worry about was the fight against Newt Gingrich and Gingrich was going to be a non-factor in these states.  They underestimated Santorum and it cost them.  It presents a real problem for Romney.  Without directly coordinating, Santorum and Gingrich are playing quite well off each other.  Santorum prefers to fight in caucus states where he can get on the ground and make a difference.  Gingrich wants to fight his battles in big primary battles where he can be his own messenger.  I think one of the reason Gingrich is showing so poorly in retail states is that no one can quite sell Newt Gingrich like Newt Gingrich.  Righteous indignation is not an easy quality to impart in a surrogate.  That leaves Romney fighting two candidates who are a) not going to spend money against each other and b) aren't going to leave a lot of freebies like Nevada (and possibly Maine, we'll see how Paul does there) for him to collect.  I firmly believe that neither Gingrich nor Santorum can win more delegates than Romney by themselves.  However, if they pick their battles and let Ron Paul siphon off a couple hundred himself, they may be able to keep Romney down below 50%.   That's the challenge that faces Romney after Tuesday.  He has to fight everywhere, spend money everywhere, and pray that he can wrap up the nomination when California votes in early June.  Let's say he wins California in June and secures the nomination.  Roll that forward.  What does it mean for the general election?

The talking heads are starting to compare this race to the Obama-Clinton nomination fight in 2008 but the analogy is weak at best.  Yes, Clinton went after Obama hard.  In fact, she went after him harder than John McCain did.  The difference was that Obama built an army for the general election everywhere he went.  Romney received about 23,000 votes last night in Colorado.  Obama got 80,000 in 2008.  The results are fairly typical.  The Democratic contests in 2008 featured record turnout, the Republican contests this year are getting average to below average turnout.  Caucuses in particular are a great way to get contacts for a general election campaign.  If someone is willing to sit through a caucus meeting for you, they are probably willing to go out and knock on some doors or at least write you a cheque.  Romney will not have the resources in Colorado and Minnesota that he could have had he contested the caucuses more aggressively and started identifying his volunteers and donors in these key states now. 

Colorado isn't just any state, it is crucial for Republican hopes in November.  If Obama is able to match his 2008 victories in Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, the Republican road to the White House gets a lot narrower.  The Republican party is clearly struggling in that part of the country.  Even in the landslide in 2010, tea party candidates failed to beat vulnerable Democrats in Colorado and Nevada senate races.  Assuming Romney is the nominee, he needs to be able to overturn this recent history if he is to become President.  He failed to lay the groundwork in Colorado on Tuesday.  In Minnesota, Tuesday night exposes a different problem.  Obama is going to have more money than he frankly needs to get re-elected.  The billion dollar number is not unreasonable as a war chest(and that doesn't include a Super PAC that will be flooded with union money).  Having said that, it is crucial for whoever the Republican nominee is to get the President to spend a little bit of his war chest playing defense.  Romney may be able to do that in Michigan (where his father was Governor) or maybe even in New Hampshire but there is no evidence Minnesota will be on that list.  If Romney can't scare Obama in states like Minnesota, he may not be able to keep up with him in swing states like Ohio and Florida.  If this is going to be a long nomination and Romney doesn't at least take advantage and start building reasonable campaign infrastructures in key states, he will be even further behind when he finally secures the nomination.  That's the threat to Romney.  A long nomination fight isn't necessarily a bad thing as Obama proved in 2008, but you need to be able to come out of the race with a general election infrastructure in place.  Romney's infrastructure is looking a little patchy at the moment.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hungary and the Death of Democracy in Europe

In October 2006, I took a trip to Budapest for a vacation.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, October 2006 was an interesting time to be in the Hungarian capital.  In May 2006, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's MSZP party had been re-elected under the shadow of a collapsing economy and ballooning budget deficit.  In September, an audio tape was discovered which featured the Gyurcsany bragging to confidantes how he was lying about the size of the deficit.  This sparked outrage in the country and in Budapest in the fall of 2006 large protests filled the area around the Hungarian parliament, including during the time I was in Hungary.  At the time, I remember thinking how amazing it was to see people so engaged in their politics.  I thought about how Hungarians who had fought for so long and so hard to have a voice, would not stand for corrupt politicians.  I am increasingly worried that I was wrong.  In 2010, Gyurcsany's party was defeated handily (he had already resigned) in the wake of not only that scandal but the full force of an economic crisis that his Hungary about as hard as it hit anyone.  The current Prime Minister, Viktor Orban an his Fidesz Party took over.  Fidesz holds a huge majority and has used it to pass laws which border on undemocratic.  Orban learned from the scandal of his predecessor not that he should be honest but that the media, who leaked the scandal, were dangerous and should be control.  The new media laws in Hungary are effectively censorship (newspapers published blank front pages in protest when the law passed).  Now, Orban is updating the Soviet era constitution and using his super-majority to instill his right-wing political values upon the constitution itself.

Orban's less than democratic tendencies have been roundly criticized by his European neighbours.  Their is increasing talk in Europe of Hungary verging on dictatorship.  I don't necessarily disagree, I do it find it somewhat hypocritical considering the massive democratic deficit being exposed by the European financial crisis.  Take Italy.  Please someone take Italy.  Italy has had a democratic deficit for a while.  Any country being run by a man who is both the richest man in the country and the owner of the largest media empire in the country as Italy was under Silvio Berlusconi is not exactly a paragon of democratic virtue.  Now, Italy faces a new democratic deficit.  The Prime Minister Mario Monti is described as a technocrat.  He has appointed a cabinet without including a single parliamentarian contrary to Italian tradition (this isn't the US).  Monti's austerity agenda is being pushed through parliament at the point of a gun.  Any time the Italian parliament questions Monti's plan he threatens economic doom and gloom and the markets back him up by raising Italy's lending costs.  The parliament has been effectively neutered.  The question here is not whether or not Mario Monti is doing the right thing for Italy.  Frankly, there aren't a lot of good options right now and his plans look about as good as anything else.  The question is how exactly can we call this democracy.  Yes, technically Monti is democratically legitimate.  He holds the confidence of the Italian parliament and the parliament was duly elected.  However, when the parliament's confidence seems to be built solely on fear it becomes murkier as to how democratically legitimate that confidence is.

This is how democracy is fading away all over Europe.  It isn't that there aren't free and fair elections; there are.  However, big decisions are increasingly being made either at the less than democratic European level or being pushed through less than enthusiastic parliaments under a cloud of fear.  The EU which has brought peace to Europe, increasingly threatens its democracy.  In Greece, George Papandreou's attempts to bring austerity measures to a referendum were snuffed out by furious fellow EU leaders.  The most recent treaty updating the EU's structure was quickly pushed through parliaments after it failed miserably in referenda.  I'm no fan of direct democracy but if you do go to the people and they say no, you better damn well listen.   European governments are increasingly unable to act in the best of interest of their own people because of restraints imposed by Brussels.  To be clear I'm talking about the only government that seems to function in Brussels.  That would be the European one not the Belgian government which was finally formed last month a mere 589 days after the last election in June of 2010.  As the economic imposes more and more upon European governments, one wonders whether or not when this crisis clears, whether those governments will be able to regain their democratic legitimacy.

This threat to democracy is far more dangerous than an IMF Structural Adjustment Program or similar program like the kind imposed on Argentina after its economic collapse.  The IMF has no real place in a functioning economy.  Once the economy is back on its feet and the loans are being repaid, the country can do as it pleases.  The IMF has no power to stop a government from making decisions it disagrees with in good economic times.  The EU is a far more integrated institution that seems to build itself on mission creep.  The European Union's natural growth seems to stem from moments of crisis when governments decide to let the EU handle a problem.  This wouldn't be an issue if the EU was viewed as even vaguely being a democratic institution.  It is responsive to its member governments to a certain extent, but its connections to the people, mostly through the joke that is the European Parliament, are weak on a good day.  If people believe that decisions are being made by a government over which they have no control, there is no point in protesting like Hungarians did back in 2006.  There's not even much point in voting.  Democracy will die a slow death.

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