Political scandals and austerity, an explosive mix in Europe

France 24 -

A wave of corrosive political scandals at a time of economic woe is exacerbating the outrage of European citizens, who are channelling resentment into street protests or at the polls.

Italy, Spain and Greece have all been hit by fraud or graft cases allegedly involving the top brass. France joined the ranks of scandal-hit nations this week after its former budget minister was charged with tax fraud.

“Everything is coming together to reinforce populist theories — the theory that ‘they’re all rotten’,” said Eddy Fougier, a researcher at the Paris-based IRIS think tank, which analyses international issues.

In France, outrage over the budget minister scandal has yet to erupt into popular protests.

But in some countries of southern Europe, which for several years have been hit by austerity measures more severe than in France, fury has coiled into potent blowback.

Italy, for instance, is currently in the midst a major political impasse triggered in part by voter discontent over a string of scandals.

Ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is involved in tax fraud, sex-for-money and other cases.

Fed-up Italians registered their anger en masse in February general elections, giving former comedian Beppe Grillo’s new anti-corruption, anti-austerity party — the Five Star Movement — 25 percent of the votes.

Read More: france24.com



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