Carlos Mulas, Executive Director of Fundacion IDEAS, tells the story of a new, pan-European campaign against ever more austerity.
It was just over a year ago, in Madrid, when the movement of “indignados” took to the streets and gathered the world’s attention with their calls for a more inclusive democracy and economy.
Their proposals to strengthen democracy from the “bottom up” to counterbalance unregulated market economies was welcomed across the globe. The “indignados” movement took different forms in New York, Tel Aviv and London, inspiring a summer of social activism. Fast forward a year, however, and the calls for inclusion are as great as ever.
In Europe last week, heads of state and government met in Brussels to concoct a plan to create jobs and growth. But they failed.
The election of François Hollande earlier this month sparked hopes among Europe’s progressive that an alternative to austerity politics might be possible. Speaking to his supporters at the Bastille, Hollande himself acknowledged his election was a victory for all European’s who sought this.
Yet at the G8 in Washington earlier this month, and again at the European Council dinner last week in Brussels, the new French President has been unable to shift the debate substantially. While promises of growth abound, there is no real action plan or round map.
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So, with a lack of political will or leadership at the top, it is not surprising the frustrations are growing across Europe.
It is in this context that a group of progressive institutions have decided that what is needed is a pan-European movement. While the leaders met at Camp David and in Brussels, we began to form a coalition of progressive institutions in favor of a pro-European, pro-growth agenda.
“Austerity Isn’t Working” draws its inspiration in part from the grassroots and netroots campaigns in the United States; campaigns that shifted the public debates on the economy. For now, we are in the pre-launch phase, using our social networks to gather personal stories about how austerity affects real people, and using our intellectual networks to gather evidence on the economic failings of austerity politics.
We are also sharing fresh ideas designed to shape a fiscally responsible, pro-European, pro-growth response to the crisis, and early next month, we’ll begin to promote that agenda publicly.
A year after the indignados took to the streets, we hope “Austerity Isn’t Working” will provide a platform for people across the continent and across the political spectrum to come together and unite in a common cause. Our leaders should not only understand the economic theory that explains why austerity does not work, they also need to witness the human cost.
We cannot let a generation of young Europeans, be they Greek, Portuguese, Irish, British or Spanish, live without hope and purpose.
We know our campaign is, for now, just an experiment. It’s one we are excited about. We hope you are too, and we hope that it will make a difference. Our energy needs to be channeled positively, and we will welcome everyone on board who has a positive contribution to make.