A similar thing happened in Italy. Observing the EU's reaction to the Greek crisis, Silvio Berlusconi calculated that Eurocrats would do anything to prevent the break-up of the euro: if his austerity measures were insufficient, Brussels would come up with the extra cash. Accordingly, he let it be known that he was relaxed about whether or not Italy should remain in the euro. If the Brussels elites wanted to preserve their continental currency, he implied, they would have to pay for it. "Since the euro was adopted", he breezily told his countrymen, "most Italians have become poorer." Once those words were spoken, he, too, was doomed. An EU official at the Cannes summit was quoted as saying: "We're on our way to moving out Berlusconi." Five days later, il Cavaliere had been forced to announce his resignation.
The funny thing is that neither of the ousted premiers was a eurosceptic. Papandreou, indeed, was a federalist. Their crime, rather, was to pay too much attention to their electorates. Leninists had a term for people who, while committed Bolsheviks, none the less behaved in a way which endangered the movement. They were known as "objectively counter-revolutionary". The supreme counter-revolutionary act, in the EU, is to ask voters what they want.
If you think I'm exaggerating, consider the way the EU deals with referendum results when they go the "wrong" way. Ponder how Brussels swatted aside the verdicts of the ballot box in France, the Netherlands and Ireland. As José Manuel Barroso put it last year: "Governments are not always right. If governments were always right we would not have the situation that we have today. Decisions taken by the most democratic institutions in the world are very often wrong."
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