Can Europe Make It?

Portugal’s left-leaning economic recovery

Portugal is making the news for all the right reasons. Español Português

José Luis Malaquias
19 September 2017
costa.jpg

Antonio Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal. CC.

Portugal has been getting noticed for its remarkable recovery in the last two years, defying the doomsayers who predicted the devil was coming the moment that the Troika-prescribed policies were reversed and an expansionary policy was adopted instead.

The left-wing government that came to power in 2015, ridiculed by the media as a “contraption”, reversed many of the cuts imposed by the previous austerity government, which had tried to go “beyond the Troika” with disastrous consequences. Under Troika policies the deficit limit was always exceeded, public debt rose from 90% to 120% of GDP, and unemployment went through the roof.

Oddly enough, this left-wing alternative, by reducing austerity, and returning income to the middle-class, managed to make the economy grow, increase the tax revenue, reduce the burden of unemployment benefits, and achieve the lowest deficit in the 43-year old democracy. Public debt is also decreasing for the first time in many years.

Was this an unexpected outcome? Not so, say most economists who had always claimed countercyclical policies were the way to fight an economic depression, and had dismissed the notion of “expansionary austerity” as absurd. It seems Keynes was right, after all.

Meanwhile, though, the structural flaws of the Eurozone, that contributed heavily to Portugal’s financial crisis, persist. For concrete proposals on how DiEM25 would resolve them, see our European New Deal.

Can there be a green populist project on the Left?

Many on the Left want to return to a politics based on class, not populism. They point to Left populist parties not reaching their goals. But Chantal Mouffe argues that as the COVID-19 pandemic has put the need for protection from harm at the top of the agenda, a Left populist strategy is now more relevant than ever.

Is this an opportunity for a realignment around a green democratic transformation?

Join us for a free live discussion on Thursday 22 October, 5pm UK time/12pm EDT.

Hear from:

Paolo Gerbaudo Sociologist and political theorist, director of the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College London and author of ‘The Mask and the Flag: Populism and Global Protest’ and ‘The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy’, and of the forthcoming ‘The Great Recoil: Politics After Populism and Pandemic’.

Chantal Mouffe Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at the University of Westminster in London. Her most recent books are ‘Agonistics. Thinking the World Politically’, ‘Podemos. In the Name of the People’ and ‘For a Left Populism’.

Spyros A. Sofos Researcher and research coordinator at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University and author of ‘Nation and Identity in Contemporary Europe’, ‘Tormented by History’ and ‘Islam in Europe: Public Spaces and Civic Networks'.

Chair: Walid el Houri Researcher, journalist and filmmaker based between Berlin and Beirut. He is partnerships editor at openDemocracy and lead editor of its North Africa, West Asia project.

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