José Sócrates, an obnoxiously politically correct leader of Portugal with a somewhat arrogant surname, has changed his mind. His country needs a bailout, after all.
The European Union, led by an equally Portuguese José Manuel Barroso and similar chaps, is reacting in a typical way: do you want EUR 70 billion? No problem at all! You will get whatever you ask for - seventy billion euros is pretty much nothing for us. More precisely, if we tell them, and we don't even have to tell them, the European taxpayers won't hesitate to pay you billions, trillions, or quadrillions - choose any word you want.
Despite the large numbers, almost no one is panicking today. People got used to such things. In fact, they love certainty, so the euro has climbed to USD 1.43. It will be so clean and nice when Portugal gets "its" money and avoids debt problems, most traders seem to think.
Meanwhile, the opinions in the countries that actually have to pay or could be asked to pay - such as the Czech Republic - may be a bit different but no politically correct journalist would care about such things, would she? Czechia may pay to Portugal up to USD 60 per person, including infants - that's like a new digital camera for everyone.
Czech poll on Europe
According to a new poll (March 20th, covered about 10,000 respondents), the Czech Republic would probably reject an EU entry if the referendum were taking place today: 42 percent would vote "join" while 45 percent would vote "stay away". Quite a different result from 77-23 which was the result of the 2003 "Yes" referendum.
74 percent of the respondents disagree with our entry to the eurozone - with the adoption of the euro as the currency. 62 percent of the people oppose Turkey's membership in the EU, largely because of different cultures and security threats. On the contrary, 66 percent would approve Iceland as a new EU member. 73 percent of the people disagree with EU's bailouts for countries such as Greece or Ireland - Portugal wasn't mentioned in the poll yet.
58 percent of the Czechs consider the European institutions to be ineffective and untrustworthy. A very negative image of the EU bureaucracy added a lot to this outcome. As you can see, the pan-European political institutions don't have too much credibility in our country. However, I have to add that the credibility of the national institutions is not much higher - quite on the contrary. ;-)
The approval rate of the Czech government and the Czech Parliament is almost systematically well below 50 percent as well. The Czech President is the only visible political institution in the country whose approval rate oscillates around 70 percent.