It's been a hectic week since the Greek left wing coalition Syriza took power. Promises to double the minimum wage took off to a good start when the new president announced an increase from 586 to 751 euros. Not quite double, but a start one could say.
Of course, winning 2 seats short of an overall majority would inevitably mean compromise. The pact with the centre right party raised more than one activists eyebrow. But hey, this is politics. Who really expects change? Particularly if we have voted for it. (Read more...)
The Demise of Demis
Postures are by their very nature, temporary. Try standing on one leg - a particular favourite posture of mine - for more than a minute or two and you'll see what I mean. Postures adopted at election times though are different. They should come with health warnings - as should the shiny coated apples in supermarkets, or the day-glow sweets administered from street kiosks. Postures, yes, we understand are transitory starting points. So why concede your argument before even starting to talk ?
"Pressure from the banks", it is said. "To restore confidence in an sinking economy since Syriza took office." Hang on though! Hasn't Greece and almost the whole of Europe been failing precisely under these very same policies for the last 8 years. Surely, voting for a continuation of the same should be more worrying for the banks, not change!
Anyhow, as if things could get worse, the demise of Demis Roussos came just as news leaked that the new Greek cabinet was to be composed entirely of men. #sinmujeresnohaydemocracia
Likewise, no women in the cabinets of Hungry and Eslovenia, Chipre and Malta (1). Whilst France and Holland have parity, only Switzerland and Finland have more women cabinet ministers than men. 4 from 28 countries is a sad reflection that #sinmujeresnohaydemocracia
Globally, there are 10 heads of state that are women, 15 heads of government, 21% of the elected members of parliament. #sinmujeresnohaydemocracia
Well, the Greece story gives cause for concern. Of course parties that do not obtain an overall majority, have to pact. Of course they compromise. This, under the right circumstances can be a good thing.
But no, it is not this, that causes my salmorejo to curdle. It's that the people of Greece gave Syriza their confidence, and they gave them their voice. President Alexis returned that confidence with a series of promises. Promises so far not only unfulfilled, but betrayed.
And so the collective European heads turn to Spain, where the salivating troika nod in unison, point to Greece and excitedly exclaim: "See! This is all that comes of your electoral sloganeering. This is what will come to Spain too if you mistakenly vote for the populists!
But will the fate of Podemos, be the same as Syriza?
Podemos claims it is different: It has a different agenda, and a different power structure, a different history and it is not a coalition of left wing groups, as is Syriza. Yet, already the Podemos leadership is toning down its language, muddling issues and interviews to woo the worried middle classes.
These are worrying signs, for they show a weakness in resistance and commitment - particularly when polls indicate that the more authentic your voice, the more you can rely on people to listen to your message, and ultimately to support you.
If Podemos does not heed these early lessons from Greece, then we may end up with the sort of insipid social democratic regurgitated nonsense that has beleaguered Europe this last decade.
I'm hoping not. But then again, I'm a hopeful sort of mOnk.
Podemos has promised true representative democracy to the people of Spain. This means that the party itself has to be answerable to the electorate - not just once every 4 years - but throughout its administration. And for it to be truly democratic it must be answerable to an informed, energised, engaged, and collectivised electorate. This will only come about by participation and fundamental structural change. Not from slogans that are easily tradable in the dusty halls of the political elite.
Is this representative form of democracy likely in Spain? I'd like to think so, but I'd hoped for the same in Greece.
Perhaps it is all just early days. Perhaps, Podemos will stay true and it will win an overall majority. Perhaps it will introduce true representative democracy for the first time in history and perhaps, piglet really does wear a scarf.