Could it be that Europe is facing yet another existential crisis, six years after financial meltdown threatened the eurozone’s collapse?
This week the third- and fourth-largest economies in the eurozone — Italy and Spain — experienced political earthquakes. Italy will now have a government of insurgents with little faith in the “European project.” Spain will have an odd coalition united only in ousting the unpopular conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Spanish voters likely face their third election in three years.
Back in 2012, Europe had its “PIGS” problem (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain): toxic banks, overwhelming debt and chronic budget deficits. Now it has the “PHIGS” of 2018: Poland, Hungary, Italy, Greece and Spain.
Today the challenges are more complex and diverse — but they have common roots in a growing popular disenchantment with the political mainstream. And the cast of characters is different.