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The direct sale of goods from the producer to the consumer shows Greeks’ return to politics

03 April 2013 / 22:04:34  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

22 years ago, when the Iron Curtain in Europe fell all citizens of the continent and especially of the countries of the former Eastern Bloc sighed with relief. With the dawn of democracy, they said that they would reject the authoritarian regimes, which had been ruling them for decades, and that they were willing to follow the example of Western democracies.

But contrary to some expectations, the involvement of citizens in political life has been decreasing, which is seriously drawing the attention of political scientists. In her today's lecture before students at the Faculty of Political Sciences at Panteion University, the political scientist at the University of Hagen, Dorothée de Nève, presented data on the decreasing involvement of citizens in politics and its causes.

According to her, the principle that the citizens are the source of power is not confirmed by the way this is happening. In recent years, their involvement in politics has declined, which is clearly shown by the figures for their participation in elections, involvement in political parties and signing of petitions. "In Germany, for example, there has been a significant withdrawal from memberships of political parties; in Serbia, they had to repeat the elections because of the extremely low participation in them," said the political scientist.

Experts such as British sociologist and political researcher Colin Crouch believe this is due to the transition of societies to post-democracy. Here is how the parties function in it:

"In post-democracy, elections are held and governments change, but a group of experts, which creates its own elite, follows the public dialogue. It is separated from the electoral masses and is closely associated with polling and consulting firms and receives in return the positive attitude of the party when it takes power."

The first reaction of the citizens in these conditions is apathy towards politics. Of course, they later realize that it has deprived them of the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process concerning their future.

According to Crouch’s theory, democracy was at its peak in Western democracies from the 1950s to the 1970s when the people were actively involved in politics and the economy was progressing. Then, he reports a shift of the burden of the decision-making process from politics to economics and from political to non-political institutions.

Dorothée de Nève pointed out that we must find new and apply old conventional and unconventional methods to enhance the involvement in politics. According to her, social networks do not provide this opportunity, as politicians often use them as a tool for one-sided access to citizens. "A politician’s meeting with selected voters does not provide them with any involvement in politics. These people simply have the opportunity to listen to the politician rather than to participate in a dialogue to determine a policy."

In her opinion, the vote is not always a political act whereas many active or passive reactions have a political meaning. She gave the example of the so-called "movement of potatoes" in Greece (i.e. the sale of agricultural products directly from the producer to the consumer – author’s note), wearing certain clothes, buying products made in certain countries and avoiding others.

The political analyst stresses that young people need to seek new ways of involvement in politics because "the decisions that are being taken now will affect them in the future and they are being adopted in their absence."

The means may be legitimate or not, the line between the two is very thin. "For example, the radical protests of the feminist organization FEMEN. Although they provoke police intervention, they certainly are involved in politics."

"Post-democracy is often referred to as a "disease" and even "schizophrenia". Furthermore, Crouch did not specify the economic circles and corporations that have become centres of political decision-making.

However, despite the criticism against Crouch’s book and against post-democracy in general, which he failed to precisely define in practice, political scientists have observed a trend towards citizens’ return to involvement in politics.


Tags: PoliticsPost-democracyInvolvement in politicsDorothee de Neve
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