Of democracy and protest

27.11.2005Osebno

Since yesterday was supposedly the biggest rally in the history of the democratic republic of Slovenia, let`s dedicate a few words to this phenomenon.

In my memory, there were three major occasions when people went to the streets and protested. The students protesting in the year 2002, the NATO protesters in 2003 and now the unions are protesting against the social reform plan the government is proposing to implement.

Now, putting the whole issue whether or not these reforms are a just cause for a protest, I would like to focus on the mechanism of protesting in a democracy and the effect it has on the matters.

You see, it is my opinion that these sorts of political participation simply does not work. They are futile and pointless. Political will is measured on the election day. People go and cast their votes for the person/party they think is the least crooked. When the results come in, the person/party with the highest vote count wins. For four years. Or until the next elections.

The protests in the middle of a mandate are sort of funny. It shows that the people are not agreeing with the current leadership. Of course, there are always some who do not agree (it`s called the opposition) but I am really curious just how many people voted for the current government and came to protest against it.

Nevertheless, why should the powers that be take the protests into their account? Why should they bother? They are sitting in the throne of power. People put them there. What`s the fucking problem?

I agree that opinions need to be expressed and stated. I agree that people should speak their mind. And I agree that to every action there is a reaction. But seriously…standing in the snow, chanting “JJ, go home!” is hardly an appropriate way to tackle these matters. And to do so on saturday of all days when the parliament was closed and all of the politicans were probably miles away from the scene.

Is it political illiteracy or foolishes that drives people to first vote for someone only so that they can boo him a couple of months later? And will people remember this in three years time? Will people remember that they had to stand in the snow because JJ&co. decided they are going to change the world?

People think that they can do anything anytime and it will work. Just because they did it. It does not matter that these things have to go through proper channels and that these channels are mostyl those which are being ignored by the masses. Elections, public debates… are usually left unattended just because people claim a) they do not understand them or b) that everything is being set up. While on the other hand they expect wonders from a) standing in the snow b) chanting and c) getting drunk in the process.

Go figure.

 

4 komentarjev na “Of democracy and protest

  1. ill-advised

    I agree that people will probably forget about all this by the time the next elections take place three years from now. Indeed in my opinion the main problem of the current system is that the politicians are basically allowed to do whatever they please once they are elected, and the people cannot do much about it until the next elections. The system needs to be changed so that it would be clearer that the politicians must do what the people want them to do, rather than to think with their own heads and pursue their own policies. I suggest that elections should take place every year, or even two or three times a year. That would give the politicians fewer chances to rely on the voters’ forgetfulness or to carry out unpopular measures.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “public debates”. Massive protests are one form of public debate. I’m not sure what other forms there are, or to what extent they are accessible to impoverished and poorly educated workers. Anyway, I don’t see why the politicians should be obliged (in the current system) to take public debates into account any more than they are obliged to take mass protests into account.

    As for people first voting for someone and then booing him a few months later, partly it may be foolishness, but partly it may be the fact that the politician promised one thing before elections and then proceeds to do something quite different once he is in power. I certainly don’t remember that the current prime minister had ever said before the elections that he would dismantle the welfare state if he gets elected…

     
  2. cookie

    True. But until that system gets change, people should be aware of their political power at the voting box and their political inability to do anything of that magnitude once the elections are over. I think that people do not take the elections seriously and then try to compensate for the loss by forms of public protests.

    I am not saying that protests should be banned, all I am implying is that people should be more aware of the political role and public protests should be their last line of defense. That they should in fact have a better memory.

     
  3. Michael M.

    I’m with cookie on this. I mean, it’s hard to think of a lot of examples where public protests changed the minds of government leaders. The largest public protests in British history (pre-Iraq Attaq) not only failed to prevent the UK from entering the war — they also failed to unseat Blair and company when elections rolled around shortly thereafter.

    For me, it’s amazing that people actually believe that politicians give a shit about them outside of election season. For me, it’s kind of like thinking that the CEO of McDonald’s cares whether you were happy with your Big Mac or not.

    And the last paragraph of cookie’s post should be engraved somewhere. Brilliant.

     

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