C. Bastasin: SHOULD INEQUALITY BE THE PRIMARY CONCERN FOR EUROPE’S POLITICAL ECONOMY?
During a speech in April, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble famously attacked the ECB’s expansive monetary policy, accusing it of fueling rancor among eurosceptic voters. Negative interest rates were painful for thrifty German households, who were becoming increasingly susceptible to the appeals of Alternative for Germany—the new xenophobic political formation currently scuppering the German political system. Although many interpreted his words through the lens of German nationalist overtones, Schäuble may have unconsciously captured one of the most critical factors determining political dynamics throughout the Eurozone. The sense of decline gripping the middle class is stoking radicalism and eroding the consensus for democracy and a unified Europe. It is important to acknowledge and address the implications of a destabilized middle class, reassuring voters of the long-term prospects for average individuals in a tumultuous economic and social landscape.