The Political Economy of Change at a Time of Structural Crisis
The political outlook for the Western world has become increasingly uncertain following the 2008 ¿nancial crash. Two political trends at the national level are particularly prominent. The ¿rst is the response to the crash and its aftermath, which has seen the emergence of a politics of austerity and a questioning both of big government and of supranational government, against a background of high unemployment and big falls in output, and the prospect of continuing stagnation, low growth and squeezed incomes stretching ahead for a long period into the future. The second, which intersects with the ¿rst, is a changing pattern of political participation, characterised by citizen disengagement and disaffection. This takes many forms, including a decline in voting, a decline in membership of political parties and other voluntary associations in civil society, and a loss of interest in the established political and governing process even among those who are well-informed. This second trend pre-dates the ¿nancial crisis, but while
Introduction 303 Part 1: Political Transformations in Uncertain Times – ‘EU-Break-up’ and ‘Towards Federal Europe’ 307 1) Context and Analysis 307 2) EU Break-Up 312 3) Towards Federal Europe 321 4) Conclusion 328 Part 2: A Political Economy Perspective of AUGUR’s Scenarios 329 1) Issues on the Political Economy of the Future 329 2) Reduced Role for Government or the ‘Struggling On’ Scenario 341 3) EU Break-Up and The Bipolar ‘Chimerica’ Scenario 342 4) The Complexity of Multi-Speed Europe 344 5) Conclusion: Political Obstacles to Deepening Democracy 344
its impact could be discounted in more prosperous times, its impact in a period of austerity is greater, magnifying the impact of small protest parties outside the mainstream.