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The politics of hate

The politics of hate is all around us. In the United States, the Tea Party’s hatred for Obama and everything he stands for, equating the introduction of (privately operated) healthcare insurance to an existential threat to the American way of life, has brought the administration to a standstill and the country close to economic collapse. In Russia the Putin regime, which normally focuses its rhetoric on the jihadist threat and US unilateralism, is stirring up hatred against gays, prohibiting what it calls “homosexual propaganda.” In Britain the extremists of the UK Independence Party are calling for the deportation not only of non-European immigrants, but of citizens of the countries whose EU membership London has always supported. And in the rest of Europe - Hungary, Greece, Finland, France and, needless to say, Spain - those who specialize in hate are regrouping with a view to

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Germany votes: what does Spain think?

In the last of an ECFR blog series looking at how the German elections are being seen around Europe, we turn to Spain. 

Back in 2012, Rajoy's conservative government felt that it was often let down and cornered by Germany. Tensions flared in the first semester of 2012, as Spain’s risk premium exploded and the country was placed on the verge of full intervention by the Troika due to its collapsing savings bank sector. Fearing that the comfortable absolute majority which the conservatives had taken 8 years to build would be wiped away in just one semester, the dominant feeling about Germany was bitterness and criticism over what Spanish elites perceived as sheer intransigence. As Spain missed deficit targets one after another, and social tensions exploded due to austerity induced cuts in health, education, pensions, and labour markets, Rajoy went against his conservative instincts

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Madrid view: I’m back

At the turn of the millennium, it was trendy to talk of the decline of the West and the rise of Asia and the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China). The word was that the 21st was to be the century of Asia, and that the West just had to grin and bear it, the real anomaly of the last 200 years having been the boom of the West. The new century would restore the balance that had existed for at least a millennium.

The financial crisis that began in 2008 only confirmed these projections. In a replay of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, the United States seemed to have been laid low by the same virus of economic and financial liberalism with which it had inoculated the rest of the world. Not for nothing Warren Buffet, the American billionaire, defined subprime mortgages and financial derivatives as the real weapons of mass destruction of our time.

Across the Atlantic, the rest of the

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Madrid view: The internet and democracy

Is the internet a tool of liberation or oppression? Until Edward Snowden came along we seem to have lived in the happy illusion that the internet and the social networks gave us an unlimited capacity for organization and action. The social networks, we were told, not only empowered us socially but also provided us with a potent political tool. Twitter and Facebook, together with Google’s capacity for disseminating an incredible volume of information in real time, had become a new weapon for citizen supervision of the government, and of resistance to tyranny. Like the press, radio and television before it, the internet now offered the citizen a way out from authoritarian monopolies on information. This is what we might call the horizontal or libertarian view of technology. And though sometimes exaggerated, as in the supposed revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt (which were far from such),

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Madrid view: Now, Eurunemployed

The European economy now lies under a shadow - the severe situation of unemployment, stagnation and cutbacks in the welfare state, bringing hardship to millions of Europeans. The magnitudes are impressive. If the 26 million unemployed people in the EU declared their independence, they would be the sixth-largest state in terms of population.

To illustrate this, what country would be better than Spain? There are now more unemployed Spaniards than there are people in Denmark (5.5 million), not to mention less populous states such as Slovakia, Finland and several others. If the 6.2 million unemployed Spaniards decided to secede from Spain and set up their own state, there would be no less than 11 states dwarfed by this hypothetical "Republic of the Dole". Of course, while all these jobless Spaniards lack a political voice of their own, those 11 states of the EU each have a commissioner

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