Europe´s political culture maze

UNITED KINGDOM - CIRCA 1900:  Labyrinth of Hever castle in Edenbridge, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Xavier TESTELIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

How could Europe build confidence and growth based on fear to changes clung to political views on ineffective economic models? In times of prosperity this lack of stimulus is hardly noticed, but in long stagnation periods as now, is more than evident and press to make changes on the political pattern.

Some European influential leaders have subscribed to this particular political behavior despite their obvious unsuccessful results. The following quotes shows how distant of the people are, and how their lack of vision and leadership makes economies moves towards stagnation, absence of empathy with citizen’s needs: Their political and economic in-depth mistakes are leading to Europe´s fracture and an important diminished solidarity in the region.

Mariano Rajoy: “There are things to change, but not in political-economic[1]

Angela Merkel: “I will not let anyone tell me we must spend more money. This crisis did not come about because we issued too little money, but because we created economic growth with too much money and it was not sustainable growth” “They lead us into a debt union, not a stability union. Each country has to take its own steps to reduce its debt”.

David Cameron: “You do not have to be an economist to know that putting up the cost of employing someone is a pretty barking thing to do when you’re trying to get out of a recession”.

These 3 influential leaders represents the current clash of communication between citizens and politicians and shows that the needs and wishes of the citizens are not collected among their policies. This burden have created important losses of confidence and a general feeling of not being represented, even if there have been democratically elected and have developed their policies under also, democratic procedures. Three different aspects of the same problem: wrong political-economic approach, a break on legitimacy and loss of confidence. Movements like 15M in Spain shows that this is not the approach and what is worse, it does not represent voter´s choices; making voters behave as at the service of the governments when it´s the round way. More and more (because of economic –financial interests) governments are behaving as elites that do not have to respond to citizens needs, even if there are consistent failures on their approaches. Data leaves these aspects enough clear: high levels of unemployment, high rates of public debt, weak economic growth forecast, low investment, lower-level innovation and general stagnation.

Political parties have a responsibility that goes beyond administration issues that is to keep the faith and confidence of the citizenship in the political system. Crisis times always suppose a break on enthusiasm and hope, but a good recovery also means renew the votes on the system, and makes this process transitorily. Actually this is not happening and the society has rebelled against without waiting to this 5-years-auditory that citizenship does with their politicians in a democratic but sometimes demagogic elections.

Another element that has contributed widely to the feeling of not being part of the system and what´s more, being permanently marginalized by it, is a growing corruption culture that should demand a permanent state of comptroller and accountability. If we add political economic approaches without success we get an impossible “cocktail” in which there is no rapport with the citizenship and do not help on the process to build confidence.

It is said that the rise of extremist political groups is in reaction of immigration movements, high levels on unemployment and corruption, but it ´s also a matter of loss of total confidence on the political system. A system that is unable to attend their needs. That feeling of disempowerment, feeding by the idea of a huge breach of their responsibilities and direct approach with the people -in which media highly contributes- cause an important clash among different philosophies. Recent results in Spanish´s elections show it clearly and create a transitional stage that would lead to new and revolutionary scenarios political and culturally. History has shown that revolution movements are good in art, cultural and political as well, in fact it what it makes the world moves towards highest levels of wisdom and knowledge, but it should not be as a consequence of the pain and despair of so many people, through injustice situations like poverty or inequality.

New challenges need new political cultural patterns. Currently extreme parties from left and right wind are taking the lead in reshaping an age-worn model of doing politics biased by corruption, financial private interests and wrong practices. In there hands are the responsibility of renews the balance between politicians and society and of old and new models of political behavior. But is only through balance and moderation that we could make sustainable structural reforms, economic, political and on political cultural patterns. These rebel reactions like UK and their will to be a low- EU member, or Spain with the rise of left wing parties, need to give way to new forms of doing politics and being catalyst for bigger changes, not just punishment actions against the system.

Is the loss of confidence and legitimation on political systems that creates negative attitudes, not just with national politicians but also against the European Union as a system. Integration is not the problem but the wrong unsuccessful political decisions that matters. Don´t blame the system but the lack of leadership and capacity of searching for effective solutions to boost economy.

“…The other element of the good life is flourishing: the delight in imagining, creating, and venturing; the fascination of voyaging into the unknown; and the thrill of succeeding. For most people, flourishing appears to be necessary for the good life — prospering is not enough. And for most people, the only career paths apt to lead to flourishing are those in a good economy…” .“…They were ready to leap into the unknown in order to pursue the development of their ideas. Europeans will not be willing to remake the economy as long as they are unwilling to remake themselves…”.[2]

Is under this fascinating mystery of taking challenges and enters into the disturbing dimension of the unknown that Europe´s political culture should move forward as another driver of change, so needed in those critical economic-financial times. Is in this sense that new political-cultural models should be placed, in which the search of a flexible and fluid relationship politicians-citizens become the basis for a balance of power and accountability.

 [2] Edmund Phelps “Europe, remake thyself”.

 *Picture: Garden Maze in Hever, England

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