The Euro crisis. Unless you have been on a simulated mission to Mars, or heard goats in a village in Africa it can hardly escaped your attention that the Euro is in difficulties.
It was always going to happen, given how it was set up. Sooner or later things would get more out of kilter and eventually something would trigger the systems falling apart.
But then that was avoided as a problem for another day by the European elite railroading the European state through over the wishes of what one suspects they see as an “unenlightened” electorate.
It is questionable if the Euro can function for any time as a currency without both political integration of the states using it and massive transfers of cash from the Northern states to the Club Med States.
But no matter. For many of the Europhile elite the Euro is a symbol of unity and it binds states and politicians more tightly into the developing European Super-state. None must be allowed to slip from the fold.
Now it seems they had seen a way to turn what for them was an unthinkable threat into an advantage… To further their goals.
When Greece began to wobble so badly the Prime Minister George Papandreou, faced with massive protests over crippling austerity measures the EU wished to impose, apparently decided the only way he could avoid massive civil unrest and maybe worse was to get the people onside.
He decided, not unreasonably, to hold a referendum on the measures. If they were accepted he had a solid mandate, if not it would be brutally clear to all, that without the banks taking, not so much a hair cut on Greek debt, but more like a hippy getting a crew cut it would be impossible for Greece to remain in the Euro and he might get a better deal from Europe.
Either that or Greece might default, re-instate the Drachma and become more competitive, at least as a tourist destination, by devaluing. It seems the Strength of the euro is harming the Greek tourist income as it haemorrhages to Turkey and other non Euro states.
The referendum might have been better for Greece and the democratic process, but it appears that those considerations are irrelevant in European politics.
The European patrician political elite have had unfortunate experiences with referenda. They can't be relied upon to produce the "right" result and have to be repeated again and again and again, with pressure applied, until they eventually do get the “right” result.
They moved speedily and effectively. One can only suppose offers were made that were simply put "impossible to refuse".
Suddenly the referendum was off the cards and Papandreou might as well have been declared taken ill at his dacha in the Crimea in time honoured fashion.
Presto-chango! The Greek PM was suddenly (blnik and you'll miss it) Lucas Papademos the entirely unelected ex head of the European Bank. His Foreign Minister? The now Ex EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas.
And the Greek parliament were all lining up behind him in a “Unity” government. No referendum, No election. No Democracy…
Turning our eyes west we find Italy. Half of it at least another Club Med Euro Economy. Their debt is becoming too expensive as markets worry and their economy is a bit too big to easily bail out. PM Silvio Berlusconi, one minute declaring he is fighting fit to lead, the next disappearing stage left with the aid of a hook on a long pole in true vaudeville stylie.
And who quietly shuffles on sideways to replace him (sans elections) hoping the average punter does not notice?
Non other than Mario Monti, Ex European Competition Commissioner (what a coincidence) and founder - president of the Bruegel European Economic think-tank. Also an arch critic of Burlusconi. Not a game character at all. :-)
So the new European solution to wobbly Club-Med economies? Let’s not bother with that old fashioned democracy stuff shall we?
“Hey! Let’s just make dem bozos an offer dey can’t refuse an put our own guys in”.
I expect it is not lost on them that if the natives cut up too rough the is always the shiny new EUROGENDFOR waiting quietly tucked out of sight, like a club with nails in held behind their back.
EUROGENDFOR or EGF standing for European Gendarmerie Force and modelled (Oh joy!) after the French Gendarmerie and the Italian Unità Specializzate Multinazionali (M.S.U.) of the Carabinieri . Staffed by nationals from (naturally) the French Gendarmerie, the Italian Carabinieri, the Spanish Civil Guard, Portuguese National Republican Guard, Romanian Gendarmerie and the Dutch Royal Marechaussee.
Mostly authentically “Napolionically European” traditions, several used to enforce the will of dictatorships in living memory.
To mix metaphors are we looking at the nativity of some sort of western “Warsaw Pact MK II” with :-) frilly covers to disguise the tanks?
Maybe more State Capitalism Technocracy “China Syndrome”?
Oh - and before anyone in the UK starts to feel too smug. Don’t forget David Cameron’s sudden volt face about a promised British referendum on Europe, or the fact that he (thuggishly in parliamentary terms) prevented a proper vote on the question recently after parliament was petitioned to debate it under a system he set up.