An Italian MP’s wage in 2009 was a staggering £126,000 a year. Nearly twice as much as a UK MP’s (£64k). Even more incredibly, the next highest wage in Europe was in little ol’ Ireland where MP’s there earned (I use the word ‘earned’ in the loosest possible sense of course) a colossal £97,000 a year. Curiously, this was £15,000 a year more than German MP’s, even though Ireland has a population of only 4.5 million and Germany a population of 82 million. The Irish government in 2009 had £10bn in tax receipts. They spent £21 million of that paying their own wages.
Figures for 2012 show that politicians over the last few years have shown no interest in practising what they preach and making sacrifices of their own in order for their own institutions to move towards some kind of fiscal sanity, especially in Italy. The wages of MP’s there have risen to £160,000 a year. In the UK MP’s have seen their wages rise a little to £65,700, which although might not seem like much, is at a time when most other people’s salaries in the UK have either frozen or dropped. Wages for MP’s in France and Germany have risen quite significantly too since 2009. One of the highest paid members of parliament in 2009 were in Greece where they received annual salaries of around £71,000. In 2012 Greek MP’s actually earn less at £63,500 (€79,000). Although, given that the average wage in Greece is €21,000, life is still very nice indeed for them relative to their hapless constituents.
What can we learn from this? Well, I think it shows us that it is entirely unrealistic to expect people whom have the power pay themselves lots of money not to do so, even in an economic depression. In fact, it’s probably even more likely to happen at such times. The only reason Greek MP’s have agreed to a pay cut is because they know their institution has arrived at the point of no return, and there’s really no hiding it anymore. Also, it would have been one of the stipulations of the ‘bailout package’ offered by the ECB, IMF and those nations not quite as advanced in their march towards insolvency. Nations like Germany, who are more than happy to take the opportunity to wag their finger at Greece as if what its government is doing is somehow different to what Germany’s is. Such is the hypocrisy and lack of integrity of politicians.
We can reasonably expect the wages of MP’s in Europe to continue to rise or not decrease at all or significantly over the coming years until all governments hit the financial point of no return. The same can be expected of government borrowing, and that means no end in sight for the economic depression.