In Portugal, fellow socialist Jose Socrates talked himself into an early election a few weeks ago by failing to win support for a new austerity drive. The country is said to be in a funk of despair over the prospects of a bailout.
Look northwards from Spain and similar public pressures are at work. From France to Finland, domestic forces make it more likely that leaders will play hard for big concessions from Ireland for lower interest on bailout loans.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy received a walloping so bad in local elections 10 days ago that some media are asking whether he might face rivals for his party’s nomination in presidential election next year.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has had a similarly bruising time in regional polls, losing the key state of Baden-Württemberg in her latest setback. At the weekend the head of her junior coalition partner and foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, called it a day as head of the liberal Free Democrats. Less than two years into her current term, the chancellor’s room for manoeuvre on the European stage seems to narrow by the week. Given the pivotal role she plays in the debt emergency, this is crucial.
But she is not the only one feeling the strain. In the Netherlands last month, liberal prime minister Mark Rutte failed to win a senate majority for his minority coalition with the centre-right. This is the first time since 1918 that a new government did not take the senate, making it difficult for Rutte to pass laws.
Finland’s centre-right government derailed plans to up the lending capacity of the single currency bailout fund because of electoral pressure from a surging eurosceptic party.
In recent weeks, each of these four countries angled in their own way against any “easy” deal for Ireland on bailout interest. The Government may feel it has the weight of moral and economic right on its side, but this is not a moral question for its sponsors.
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I did ask, how is the collective mood now?