Discontent has different names: occupy, indignados, Arab spring, Brazilian summer. The common thread is a crisis of confidence in which voters are fed up with political systems that have so far failed to deliver in a five-year old financial and economic crisis. Unemployment has topped 12 percent in Europe, double that among youth. And, with European Parliament elections a year away, the time is ripe for a throw-the-rascals out approach by voters.
Turnout in European parliament elections has steadily declined in recent years to about 40 percent. A much lower figure next year could throw the parliament into an existential crisis. In this edition of The Network we ask how to address the discontent and disenfranchisement that is driving so many to resort to internet-driven movements: flash mob rebellions that have shaken both democracies and autocracies to their foundations.
Sol Trumbo, project coordinator at the Transnational Institute (TNI) has been involved in the Indignados and Occupy movements. He denounces the crisis management by governments, claiming that “there is a disbelief in the political structures that are in place because they don’t represent the real needs of the population.”
Robert Manchin, managing director of Gallup organisation Europe believes that “people can survive all kinds of crisis” however he says that European citizens are struggling to see how the future will evolve: “…I see at least in Europe that’s a main point, that people are losing hope, that in five years from now it will be better.”
Finally, Pierre Winicki, general director of Institut Confiances thinks today’s issues are the result of a long-term distrust culture that has evolved around the years. He asks: “how would you expect to create a climate of trust and hope in European countries and among European citizens, when inside institutions themselves there is no culture of trust at all, or too limited, as a matter of fact?”
You can watch The Network and see our three guests’ comments in full.