The Irish method

The passion for Ireland and its European «model» has suddenly returned to Greek politics. But unfortunately the insistence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis upon the value of the Irish experience seems as inappropriate as the criticism leveled against it two years ago by former premier Costas Simitis. There is no question that Ireland’s progress within Europe has been impressive. Over the past 30 years it has overturned the widespread preconception of «the poor Irish.» Indeed, its per capita gross domestic product has increased 28-fold and is today the second highest in the union – virtually twice the size of Greece’s. Where Simitis went wrong was in his haste in identifying the Irish method with neoliberalism and not social democracy. The governments of Ireland systematically avoided a choice between either of these models. Irish politicians will not commit themselves, neither to US neoliberalism nor to the European social democratic model, believing that the two approaches are not mutually exclusive. The Irish people, however, did choose and have committed themselves to their choice. And this is where Karamanlis has a point when he says, «Ireland implemented policies which created a fecund environment for business and creativity.» How optimistic our PM must be to believe that we can do the same here! Has he realized how many difficult obstacles must be overcome for such an achievement?

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