Machiavelli and the Political Response to the Eurozone Crisis.

EUI Working Paper

Machiavelli has been influential in political science because he systematically analysed the strategies pursued by leaders to consolidate their power. In this regard it was shift away from normative to empirical political theory. This paper uses a Machiavellian framework to analyse the political response to the Eurozone crisis. It argues that political leaders today must legitimate their policy decisions to the electorate. There are two ways to do this: input or output legitimacy. Input legitimacy means that governments respond to the preference of the electorate by designing policies that satisfy their interests. In the absence of this political leaders can legitimate their policies if the outcomes lead to effective performance such as strong economic growth or full employment. The crisis of the Eurozone is a causal outcome of an absence of both input and output legitimacy. The European response has been to promote technocratic economic policies insulated from politics. The lesson to be learnt from Machiavelli is that such a response is not viable. Incumbent governments will be punished by their electorates leading to unprecedented political volatility in the Eurozone.

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