There has been plenty on the agenda at the Forum Libération at Lyon in France – everything from the Arab Spring, the euro crisis, social upheavals and technological advances.
The debates, exchanges and arguments have centred on designing, or rather re-designing, the new frontiers of tomorrow.
The Managing Director of Libération newspaper, Nicolas Demorand said: “The title appeared from the early stages of the Arab revolutions. We saw extremely strong geo-political movements at the beginning of the year, and they showed us that certain geo-political situations we thought were going to be around forever moved, in fact, extremely quickly. It was a wake-up call from a kind of comfortable democratic torpor, and a little cynicism too.”
Tunisian cyber-activists, Libyan fighters, Egyptian artists – those at the centre of the Arab revolutions came to express what they want to see now – more hope and more dignity.
But one graffiti artist, whose work has become a powerful visual symbol of the Egyptian uprising believes there’s still a long road ahead. Ganzeer said: “I don’t think that it is possible for any democratic reforms to take place unless the military council is pushed out of its current position and is actually prosecuted not only for the crimes is has done during these few months, but also during its time with the Mubarak regime.”
It is a view shared by Mahmoud Hussein, a pseudonym used by two Egyptian intellectuals Bahgat el-Nadi and Adel Rifaat. They want a transfer of power from the military to a civilian authority to guarantee free elections.
Rifaat told euronews: “Democracy will produce what it will produce. We know well that millions of people will vote, let’s talk about the silent majority who could give such and such figure to the Muslim Brotherhood, that’s less serious because as soon as we enter a process that people trust, we must also have confidence in that democratic process.”
It is a feeling already shared by at least one cyber-activist in Tunisia, where post-revolution elections in October gave victory to the islamist party Ennahda. Amira Yahyaoui said: “Strangely I’m very confident because my view is that these are very good results in the sense that they are very representative of Tunisians. It’s the first time Tunisia has ever had real statistics, not distorting the will of Tunisians, their hopes, their thoughts. I am really confident about the constitution which will be written at the end of the year by the constitutional assembly and at the same time I’m happy to see an Arab Muslim country where the winning Islamist party has understood that it cannot ‘reign’ without applying a real democracy or without thinking about human rights.”
The Arab revolutions have not been the only subject at Forum Liberation. Also on the agenda: the euro-crisis and how to stop the european single currency from exploding.
And for some in France the solution lies with the European Central Bank and euro-bonds.
The Socialist candidate in next year’s French presidential race says it is hard to convince Germany’s Angela Merkel.
François Hollande told euronews: “I would tell her simply that if we want growth as well as controlling public debt and containing expenditure, Europe itself must be a growth factor through the value of eurobonds.”
Pooling the debt is not a popular idea in Germany, but it is an idea put forward by the former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin.
“The euro zone needs more federal integration with new instruments, new policies from the European Central Bank which could act as a guarantor of last resort with the creation of euro-bonds,” he said. “Only a very strong signal like that, of financial solidarity among the euro zone countries, is likely to avoid the dictatorship of the markets.”
At least one economist at the forum believed it was possible to govern properly in a world of global finance, but there needs to be some housekeeping first.
Jean Hervé Lorenzi said: “Financial regulation has still not fulfilled the role it had been given, and it must attack these Over-the-Counter markets to finally make them transparent. “
The 56 debates between politicians, intellectuals, artists and those who drove the Arab Spring brought together close to 20,000 visitors to the forum.