This FT piece is making the Internet rounds today:
Stand by for the rise of the technocrats. Apparently, the answer to the huge problems of the eurozone is the replacement of elected premiers with economic experts – approved officials dropped from European institutions. In Greece, Lucas Papademos, a former vice-president of the European Central Bank, has been pushed hard for the job; in Italy, Mario Monti, another economist and a former EU Commissioner, is much mentioned. They may lack a democratic mandate but they’re fantastically well regarded in Frankfurt. It remains to be seen if either will clinch the role. But what exactly is the great attraction of technocrats?
If ever modern Europe needed brave, charismatic leaders to carry their nation through turbulent times, it would seem to be now. Instead, it is as if the crew of the Starship Enterprise had concluded that Captain Jean-Luc Picard is no longer the man for the job and that it is time to send for the Borg. Efficient, calculating machines driving through unpopular measures across the eurozone with the battle cry “resistance is futile” are apparently the order of the day. Faced with a deep crisis, once-proud European nations are essentially preparing to hand over power to Ernst & Young.
Good point, though as Matthew Yglesias points out, Picard being replaced by Data would actually be the more appropriate Star Trek analogy.
Papademos' appointment, which has now been confirmed, seems odder than the Italian case given that his predecessor George Papandreou -- a professorial, trilingual Minnesotan with degrees from LSE and Harvard -- was hardly some kind of fire-breathing Greek nationalist. Will an even more eurocentric figure be more effective at selling the Greek public on the notion that their way of life, as they knew it, is now over?
This past year's exposure of the flaws in the common currency model, combined with the fact that -- in the eyes of many -- Brussels now seems to be essentially appointing heads of state for sovereign nations, would seem to what were once seen as the most paranoid nightmares of euroskeptics. Did all those people freaking out about bendy cucumbers have a point after all?