Mario Monti has provoked the wrath of the Valkyries. In an interview with Der Spiegel, he told the Germans that he thinks the euro crisis could be solved if only governments would show some healthy independence from their legislatures--an unsurprising thought for the technocrat that Monti is. But to many this sounded like a clarion call for an anti-democratic Europe and brought immediate denunciations.
And France, meanwhile? To my astonishment, Le Monde online breathes not a word of this whole controversy. Indeed, since Hollande's election, France has become the most nombriliste country in Europe. Despite being at the heart of the eurozone, it seems remarkably insouciant about the unfolding crisis. The troubles in the south have sent a lot of capital seeking safe haven to France; France's immediate borrowing worries are alleviated; and the French attitude seems to be Alfred E. Neuman's, "What, me worry?" It's baffling, really. To be sure, Hollande's low-key approach to governance seems to have been taken by many as the key to the success of his first three months--if success is measured as the passage of a number of measures without major opposition. But where is the French government on the euro? Far from leading the anti-austerity coalition, as he was expected to do, Hollande has ceded that role to Monti, who lacks the legitimacy that Hollande has. Is it any wonder that anti-austerity has taken an anti-democratic direction? This is worrisome.