Monday, November 22, 2010

The attention span of an FT journalist

According to Josh Chaffin at the FT the Dutch government are bigging up the pain about to be inflicted on the Irish to quell their own populations rumbling,
Jan Kees de Jager, the Dutch finance minister, put it more bluntly in his own statement. “Ireland will have to cut fast and deep,” Mr De Jager said. As if that were not unpleasant enough, he ominously added that “The IMF will have a prominent role in drawing up the aid package.”

Those remarks seem to be a more accurate reflection of the awful pain that lies ahead for Irish citizens in exchange for European assistance. Mr De Jager opted for greater candour possibly because he is Dutch, and surely because his statement was tuned less to hedge fund managers and bond traders than his own voters.

They happen to be enduring their own deep budget cuts just now, and may not be so eager to shell out for someone else’s rescue. For Dutch public opinion, whose enthusiasm for the EU appears to be waning, it is essential that voters understand the sacrifice the Irish are making.
The Dutch electorate's "enthusiasm for the EU appears to be waning" does it?
Given the succes of Geert Wilders PVV in the recent Dutch elections we might acept this at face value. But hold on, I think we might say that the Dutch electorate's enthusiasm has been waning for a while. After all, Mr Chaffin seems to have forgotten that only 5 short years ago the Dutch voted pretty conclusively against the European Constitution. By a margin of 61.6% to 38.4%. They were ignored of course.

I suspect that it will take more than the sight of Irish pain to assuage the Dutch voters when they have to dig into their pockets to bail out the Irish (following the amount they have already spent on the Greeks).

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