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31 Dec, 2011 16:47

The year of dissent: Battling Europe

The European community bids farewell to the worst year for the eurozone, which saw the toughest economic crisis in decades. The battle to save the single currency left boardrooms and flooded European streets - most commonly and violently in Athens.

For Greece, the country most severely affected by the financial disaster, 2011 was a year of despair and discontent. Greek debt became the centerpiece of the euro crisis. Protests in the country have become a common occurrence against desperate austerity cuts to qualify for IMF bailouts and unemployment crippling record high.The financial crisis in Greece has migrated to other European countries, including Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Italy. Autumn in Europe brought about the fall of several leaders across the EU – Italy, Greece and Spain – all of these countries saw governments change within a two-week period. Spaniards gave the center-right People's Party an absolute majority in parliament after the Socialist government was toppled by the debt crisis.While Greece and Italy are now led by unelected Brussels-backed technocrat leaders who are trying to curb the crisis coming into the New Year.But who these new faces at the helm of Europe’s most troubled nations are remains unclear. And will they really make things better for the people?The year 2012 will bring mostly bad news for the eurozone – a crushing recession, likely string of defaults and the probable collapse of the euro itself, predicts Investment Advisor Patrick Young.“We have a lost generation in western Europe. Something like 40 per cent of all Spaniards in their 20s are unemployed. That’s a travesty! It’s an absolute failure of government! And it’s appalling. One really sympathizes, but the difficulty is that you can’t keep the government simply spending money in order to manage and things make work. And the hangover we have is effectively 50 years of state-controlled socialism in western Europe that ultimately has proved to be unaffordable in many countries,” he told RT.

Panagiotis Sotiris, a sociology lecturer at the University of the Aegean, believes that the end of the year brings little hope for Greece or the eurozone. “We’re in a very deep vicious circle of austerity, debt and recession”, he told RT. “There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. What we are experiencing and we have been told we are going to experience next year, which means another year of social devastation, is exactly the proof of the failure of these policies”. He also said that the population of Greece was effectively left out of the decision-making process. “The natural course of things would have been either a new election or a referendum. In both cases back in November we could have had a strong rejection of all these policies. So, the Papademos government was in a way dictated to by the European Union and the IMF who said ‘No, you cannot have a referendum, no you cannot have an election. You are going to have a European Central Banker as prime minister whether you like it or not. We are going to first vote for all these measures that the people on the streets have rejected and then you can have an election. But this is a mockery of democracy.”