One of the main borderlines differentiating the dominant interpretation of the current crisis from the one shared by the social and political Left as well as heterodox economists, is the insistence of the latter that we are dealing with a serious systemic crisis of capitalism, rather than an “animal-spirit” type deviation of the economic modus operandi as proclaimed by the former. Approaching the crisis from a systemic vantage point, permits us to capture the interdependent nature of its various facets and thus to better understand reality and more effectively contest it.
During the last years, austerity policies followed in many European countries – and most rigorously in the countries of the European South – as a result of the management of the crisis by the European political and economic elites, led to a dismantlement of crystallised political cleavages in these countries, which in turn “defrosted” the respective party systems and brought about what we can legitimately call “a crisis of political representation”.
In which way do austerity policy measures in three of the countries of the European South (Greece, Portugal and Spain) dissolve the link between the incumbent political forces and their respective social strata? How does the crisis shift incumbent political cleavages? What are the strategic challenges for the Left, in face of the societal shift of its social milieu due to austerity measures?
These are the questions tackled in the research programme financed by transform! europe under the title: “Austerity Policies and the Crisis of Political Representation – Greece, Spain, Portugal”. The project will be carried out by the three respective political foundations – Nicos Poulantzas Institute, Foundation for Marxist Studies (FIM) and Cultra – participating in the network, and is expected to be completed by March 2013.
In the course of their work, the researchers intend to publish reports on the more concrete questions that will be specified in their first meeting at the end of this month.