The Maltese and Italian Prime Ministers are two of a kind. Joseph Muscat and Matteo Renzi have so much in common that they seem political twins:
- Both are leaders of socialist political parties
- They are roughly of the same age
- They are both having their first experience as Prime Ministers
- They were both elected to lead their party when it was practically non- electable
- Both worked miracles in turning round the fortunes of their party in a big way
- They accept a challenge and go head on to win it
- They communicate exceptionally well to deliver unity of purpose
- Both command an appeal beyond the traditional boundaries of the party they lead.
- Both are strong pro-Europeans
- They both believe that growth not austerity is the solution to Europe's problems
- Both want Martin Schultz to be the next Commission President
- They both fight excessive bureaucracy and let nothing stand in the way of getting things done
- They are both election winners
- They lead the only two EU governments that have been roundly endorsed by their electorates in the weekend MEP elections.
Pity that the other main socialist Prime Minister in Europe seems cut form a different cloth. President Hollande has again suffered a huge electoral defeat and he would do well to make Muscat's and Renzi's good fortunes as a case study to learn what he is doing wrong in France.
It is indeed worrying that in an important country like France the main political force turned up by yesterday's election is the far right Front National of Le Pen whose policies are ultra-nationalistic bent on dismantling all that true Europeans built over the last six decades where the continent enjoyed unprecedented period of peace and economic development.
Why is the French electorate behaving so differently from the Italian and Maltese electorates?
Simply because President Hollande is failing to deliver on his main campaign promise to be a valuable counter-weight to the power of Chancellor Merkel in the Council of Ministers of the EU. Where it matters Merkel is still calling the shots and preaching the merits of austerity and expecting all EU countries to become perfect images of the motherland. This does not work. The EU is a union of nation states with their own individual identities but wishing to share their economic fortunes in a spirit of social solidarity.
Following yesterday's result France would do well to team up with Italy and Malta and seek support from other states whose economic growth is being restricted by misplaced austerity measures, to build pressure on Germany to accept flexibility and social solidarity as the fairest and most practical way out of this never ending recession following the financial crisis.
More than anything they should join forces to press Germany and other core Euro countries to let the ECB operate autonomously according to its mandate and lift the pressure for the ECB to fight inexisting inflation; to let the ECB to do whatever it takes to save the Euro and repair the transmission mechanism which is blocking the delivery of its monetary accommodation measures to the places where it is most needed.
Renzi and Muscat should join hands and show the way to Hollande et al. Yesterday's election results give them the political credentials to take the lead as the only two governments that have been endorsed by their electorates.